August 28, 2007

The Jewel of Monterchi

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:02 am by classicalmusic

Set in a little town in Tuscany, Italy, is one of the greatest masterpieces of
Renaissance art.

Piero’s Pregnant Madonna

In the upper Tiber Valley, not far from the townships of Arezzo and
Sansepulcro, lies the tiny village of Monterchi.  Monterchi is one of those
Tuscan midieval towns with its Centro Historico (historic center) built on a
hill for protection against encroaching enemies.  It looks like an island in the
center of the valley.  There is nothing terribly unusual or mind-boggling about
this charming town.  However, it is home to one of the greatest masterpieces of
Renaissance art:  The Madonna del Parto (the pregnant Madonna) by Piero della
Francesca. 

So, we are not really talking about a museum here.  This fresco by Piero was
originally found in the Monterchi cemetary chapel.  But in 1992-1993 it was
given a thorough restoration and then placed in a small building, formerly a
school building.  The school building has two rooms.  The first, on entering,
contains information about the fresco and about the artist.  The second and
larger room holds the fresco.  It stands in the center, protected by glass and a
low railing.  And upon first seeing it, my reaction was a soft “ahh”.

The Madonna is standing, dressed in a vibrant blue dress.  (I later read that
Piero used lapis lazuli for this blue color.)  She has one delicate hand resting
on her swollen belly.  Her head is slightly tilted to one side, and she has a
very pensive expression on her face.  The painting emanates quiet and calm.  You
just want to stand there, look at it, and breathe in the calm atmosphere.  What
is she thinking, this lovely, pensive Madonna?  The answer is open to the
interpretation of the observer.

If you are traveling in Tuscany, don’t miss the jewel of Monterchi.  It is
worth a detour.

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