Sacraments (reliefs from the north side of the Campanile, Florence Cathedral)

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Andrea Pisano and workshop
Keyword
Baptism , Confirmation , Eucharist , Extreme Unction , Matrimony , Reconciliation , Sacraments
Abstract
When Giotto died in 1337, Andrea Pisano became capomaestro for the unfinished Campanile (bell tower) beside the Florence Cathedral. Andrea and his workshop produced a comprehensive program of over fifty marble relief sculptures divided into two registers around the building's four exterior walls. Hexagon-shaped panels carved from marble decorated the lower register, while the upper register displayed diamond-shaped marble panels complete with a blue maiolica background, some of which are shown here. These reliefs come from the north wall and depict six of the seven sacraments: Baptism, Reconciliation, Matrimony, Confirmation, Eucharist, and Extreme Unction/ Anointing of the Sick. The missing sacrament, Holy Orders, has survived as only a small fragment. Each scene merges traditional Gothic elements (geometric shapes, stiff drapery) with classicism (naturalistic bodies and postures), similar to the panels originally placed below depicting scenes of the liberal arts. Scholars believe that Andrea's use of ceramic and blue and white colour scheme was a source of inspiration for Luca della Robbia, who used this aesthetic with his pioneering technique of glazed terracotta in the fifteenth century. However, unlike the della Robbia's, who used a cobalt-oxide based blue to achieve a multitude of tones, Andrea probably used here a copper-sulfate to achieve a single saturated blue. Today, Andrea's reliefs are displayed at the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo and arranged in the order in which they were once displayed. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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