Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Frescoes with Attitude

Headed over to the quiet side of Tuscany last Friday - just north of Arezzo - for a friend's house-warming. The house is located near the village of Caprese Michelangelo - the great man's birthplace. The village itself isn't up to much - a few restaurants and a modest museum to its illustrious son. However, it's perched on the side of great wooded hills (alive with deer and wild boar) with glorious views across to Lake ?? and the town of Anghiari (scene of the great battle - the theme for Leonardo's great lost fresco) . Not far away is Sansepolcro, the birthplace of Piero Della Francesca. The Museo Civico contains his "Resurrection" fresco - a magnificent risen Christ with a don't-fuck-with-me demeanour. The colour is a little faded, as frescoes do, and one of the sleeping guards seems to be defying gravity, but there's no denying its majestic presence. It's a shame you can't view these frescoes in their original settings but thanks to the Reformation, the Counter-Reformation and the Second World War these settings have been looted and destroyed and we have to be grateful the work still exists. After this we moved on to Monterchi (about 20 minutes drive away) to check out the "Pregnant Madonna" - one of Piero Della Francesca's greatest works. This is located in a dedicated building at the outskirts of the village. The madonna is very earthed and unromanticised - belly extended and hand on hip supporting her weight. The expression is one of benign resignation. There is something going on with the curtains and the pattern on the front of her dress that suggests country matters. But surely Piero wouldn't be that bold.