Pavement in Siena Cathedral

Pavement in Siena Cathedral

The Cathedral of Siena contains numerous masterpieces from every epoch. A work that in many respects is exceptional, is the floor, “the most beautiful … largest and most magnificent … that ever was made” in the words of Giorgio Vasari, the fruit of a plan that took on concrete form through the centuries, from the XIV century up to the XVIII century. The preparatory cartoons for the fifty-six panels were done by important artists, all from Siena, except for the Umbrian painter Bernardino di Betto, known as Pinturicchio who in 1505 authored the panel with the Hill of Wisdom. The techniques employed to transfer the ideas of the various artists onto the floor are marble intarsia and graffito: the procedure was initially quite simple but gradually attained a surprising degree of perfection: the first depictions were scratched onto slabs of white marble using a chisel and a drill, and the signs then filled with black stucco. This technique is known as “graffito”. Then, coloured marble was employed in much the same manner as wood inlaying. This technique is called “marble intarsia”.

Opera della Metropolitana

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Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life – Anna Akhmatova

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