Friday, March 7, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Duomo di Orvieto Frescoes (Luca Signorelli)

Yesterday I talked about Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel frescoes, and today I thought I would write a bit about a somewhat hidden treasure, but what I think is the closest rival to the Sistine Chapel, and that is Luca Signorelli's frescoes in the Duomo di Orvieto.
Signorelli was commissioned to do the ceiling frescoes inside the Chapel of San Brizio in the Orvieto Cathedral in April 1499, and then later on in 1500, he signed to do the side walls.  I have not personally seen these paintings, but I know that they are vast, and it is impossible to capture it all in a single picture.  Nearly every inch of wall space is covered by Signorelli's work.  One could probably sit inside this chapel for days at a time contemplating each painting.  The main theme of the frescoes is the Last Judgement, including the separation of the elect and the damned and the resurrection of the flesh.
One of the things that amazes me about Signorelli's work in the Orvieto is the effeciency of it.  From the time of his first commission of the ceiling to the finishing touch of the last wall, Signorelli completed the work in only 3 years.
What is interesting is that Signorelli is one of what I would call the "overlooked" artists that contributed frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.  I always pitied those artists (which also included Botticelli and Perugino) because obviously Michelangelo's work completely overshadows theirs.  But as it turns out, Signorelli has work not only in the Sistine Chapel, but he also has an astonishing chapel of his own, which I believe inspired Michelangelo in his frescoes to begin with.

Chapel of San Brizio interior and ceiling

Sermon and Deeds of the Antichrist

The Damned

The Elect

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