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Current time:0:00Total duration:3:22

Video transcript

we're on the second floor of our San Michaela and we're looking at one of the most famous sculptures that used to be on one of the exterior niches but has been brought inside to keep it safe this is Nana de bancos the four crowned martyrs these are four ancient Roman sculptors who are asked by the Roman Emperor Diocletian to create a sculpture of a pagan god and they refused and were put to death but the moment that nada de Banco has chosen to depict is the moment when they're coming to the realization that this will be their fate this was commissioned by the stonemasons guild each guild had a niche on the outside of the chorus and Micaela and chose a sculptor to represent their patron saints this is unusual in that we have four figures instead of a single figure and the niche figures who are human in their interactions almost as if there's a negotiation going on between them and it's as if they're thinking deeply about the consequences of the decision that they're in the process of making then it is a deeply human experience so instead of having these single thoughtful figures like Donatello Saint Mark we have figures who are looking at each other gesturing look at the vividness of the interaction as the man on the right is speaking his mouth is open there's that wonderful dark shadow and that really deep carving and all of them are paying attention not necessarily focused on him visually we can see them listen in the most engaged way this is an extraordinary expression of what stone can do and this was of course for the stonemasons themselves this guild is showing the nobility of their profession that stone can get to the heart of what it means to be human and in a noble way to live up to one's belief and being a sculptor in the early 15th century in Florence meant looking back at the ancient Greek and Roman sculptures it's in sculpture that we see the revival take place artists like Donatello and nonny dubenko and then later on soon with masaccio we'll see that looking back to ancient Greek and Roman culture but this looks so ancient Roman to me the faces look like figures from ancient Roman Republicans statues they're wearing these Roman togas several of them stand in contrapposto especially this one second from the left where we can really see his knee pressing through the drapery and a sense of his hips and really a body there's a kind of empathy that I feel for these figures that is intensified because it is these four men think about Florence in the 15th century which was really thinking about its sense of community they took decisions together or whether or not they were going to acquiesce to the Milanese for example this notion of doing things together and doing things for the group was absolutely central to the specific nature of this city with Donatello Saint Mark you have the dignity of the individual which was a very important part of humanism and here you have the importance of the relationships the importance of the group in 90 divan goes for crowded scenes you