February 1, 2009

The Cathedral of Orvieto

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:55 am by classicalmusic

The Duomo of Orvieto
The charming hilltown of Orvieto in Umbria, Italy, contains a duomo (cathedral) which is a magnificent example of the Romanesque-Gothic style of architecture. It was begun in the year 1290 and more than 100 architects, sculptors, painters and mosaicists took part in its construction which was only completed in the year 1600. The facade is a glittering and sumptuous splendor of sculptures, multi-colored marbles and golden mosaics. Seen in bright sunlight it is absolutely dazzling.

But the facade is not all. Inside in its chapel, called the Cappella della Madonna di San Brizio, are a series of frescoes portraying the Apocalypse. They were begun in 1447 by the painter Fra Angelico and then given over to the great Luca Signorelli in 1499 who completed them in 1504 accoding to Fra Angelico’s plans. The human figure was Signorelli’s main interest, and, with his careful portrayal of the human anatomy, he composed figures of such dramatic dimensions and powerful emotion that it is said that Michelangelo was inspired by these frescoes in some of his paintings of the Sistine Chapel.

If you are fortunate enough to visit the chapel when there is a guide to explain the frescoes, you will find it a most rewarding experience.

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