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Current time:0:00Total duration:5:59

Andrea Pisano's reliefs on the Campanile in Florence

Video transcript

here we have you Florence where we can see the bell tower the company they and in the center and then on the left the just a little corner of the baptistry and on the back and the Cathedral of Florence with Vern Liske is down at the top right the baptistry is a medieval building from the 10th century probably and the cathedral the Duomo they began building almost around 1300 and the bell tower starts going up a little bit after that and then the dome is built from the early 1400s and finished in the 14 70s so what are we looking at with the bell tower the bell tower right now we're going to concentrate on the very bottom around 13 40 even though the tower wasn't complete yet they decided the town and the guilds of Florence specifically the wool guild that was in charge of decorating the cathedral decided that they wanted to decorate the bottom of the tower because even though it was incomplete it was embarrassing having just this bare undecorated surface where everyone's walking around as you can see all the time and so the two very bottom layers are decorated with many reliefs and these are in stone marble rather than the bronze that's on the baptistry the reliefs cover a lot of subjects there are biblical scenes there are signs of the zodiac and there are also scenes of local art and Industry some of these things may sound unusual of course the biblical scenes make sense on a church building I mean those are a little bit unusual we'll see why they might want to include those we should also say that the zodiac signs are not unusual because the medieval Christians were very able are very comfortably blended their belief in Christianity and their Christian devotion with interest in the horse and we see that a lot of medieval churches that's right let's look at some of these reliefs here's one of the religious scenes this is the Creation of Adam the artist is Andrea Pisano who around the same time is working on the bronze reliefs just across the street on the south doors of the baptistry those scenes are about John the Baptist and here's one of the biblical scene on the belltower and again this is typical of his style as we've described it it's very very simplified with mostly a blank background just a few things to give you a sense of the setting here a few stylized trees and we have God leaning over and creating a demand yeah literally out of the dust of the earth is it a clear takes form right and this is another good example of how Andrea Pisano combines a kind of Gothic style is a ssin with a naturalistic classicism where do you see the Gothic style ization well the figure of God the Father in some ways the way the robes are rendered without a great sense of the body underneath the kind of rhythmic folds all of this is pretty traditional so we have a sense of the body but there's not an entire sense of a real physical anatomically correct body underneath it that's right we like there will be later with Donatello mm-hmm and instead the figure of Adam is a nude athletic male even though it's a mess here it's it's classicizing and it's naturalistic he's in a contrapposto stance even though he's lying down that doesn't make any sense contrapposto is usually something for standing up right but that the fact that he's done that anyway shows how interested he was in giving it a classical appearance and then we can see his ribs is that the muscles they are - that's right so this is very typical for his style here now we're looking at one of the scenes of local industry well this is looks a lot like the one of God creating Adam well it's interesting that you say that because the industry that's represented here is sculpture and this is an interesting way for an artist and Verrazano to suggest that the work of the sculptor the work of the artist is in some ways like the work of God both our creators in fact we also see again the Creator here the artists leaning over a bearded man and rather stylized robes leaning over a nude not more naturalistic more classicizing figure now of course he's not going to get in trouble there's a sense of modesty here because look again and compare this to the way God creates Adam God is in nature he uses a gesture of his hand and Adam is clearly supposed to be a real living person when we look at the sculptor in the studio he's in the studio he's using tools use of the tools is really conspicuous it can create simply by its word or some kind of spiritual action that's right and also what he's creating is not going to be mistaken for a real person it's stiff and it's much smaller in scale but still it seems to be almost a sign of the desire to elevate the status of the artist it absolutely is a sign of that and it's also definitely a sign of the pride that the Florentines taken their arts I mean this is a very important location bell tower of the Cathedral and they're displaying in a way what makes them proud and prosperous as Florentines in one part it's the arts and and so this could be described as part of that civic pride that I always think of is so important in terms of commissioning so much art in the Renaissance that's right here's another scene of local industry this is weaving which is one of the main reasons why Florence is so very prosperous around 1340 when these reliefs are being made you could talk about it in terms of the style being typical friend Reposado the boiling down to the essential ingredients but really what this stands out is the way it celebrates industry manual labor and the things they make the city where it is building it's amazing yeah and so the gills are really powerful and enriching the city and and decorating the city with beautiful sculptures and reliefs and at the same time wanted to see their own image in a way that's right you