|Ideal View of an Imaginary City|
Francesco di Giorgio Martini, observed yesterday functioning as architect, was also the maker of many paintings. These paintings (not surprisingly) seem most often to exist mainly as pretexts for exploring perspective and space. Their storytelling function is hieratic, passionless. Their eloquence is formal.
|God the Father|
|Coronation of the Virgin|
|Birth of the Virgin|
In the Nativity (above) from the early 1490s, the architectural fantasy-object in the background (something between a tirumphal arch and a garden folly) makes a more successful claim for attention than the human and divine figures in the foreground. Instead of a gradual ruin with worn edges, this one looks new, as if damaged not by time but by artillery. As narrative, the arch is Francesco di Giorgio Martini's version of the Bethlehem stable. Holy personages recline upon its widely scattered fragments. The suggestion seems to be that Christianity was the bomb that blasted a breach in the unified structure of Paganism.
Additional architectural features wait their turn to be noticed in the remote background of this painting, beyond the mysterious body of water. The detail below makes the foremost waterside temple more visible in its front-on hexagonal symmetry. Farther up the mountain other structures are partially visible with their own colonnades and towers. Will the Baby Jesus and his angles blast these apart too?
|Disrobing of Christ|
|Disrobing of Christ (detail)|
Finally, a building – a single photographic view of one small surviving Renaissance church built by Francesco di Giorgio Martini – looking even today as if it had only just emerged from a painted background and blossomed under its own power into three dimensions.
|Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie|