Nov 232009

We have recently completed a DVD about one of the all time greats in sculpture. You are unlikely to have ever heard of him. He started his great work as architect and sculptor on Orvieto Cathedral in 1303 and some of the sculpture was in place by 1307 that is some years before Giotto’s Arena Chapel or Duccio’s Maesta. He is so original and advanced technically that he does not fit the mould of art history’s development, so it is easier to leave him out all together!

Technically his work in relief is the missing link between the Pisani (Nicola & Giovanni) and Ghiberti’s “The Gates of Paradise” on The Baptistry in Florence. More importantly he speaks to us through a common humanity more immediately and comprehensively than any of his contemporaries. His observations of humankind are truly delightful. He retells the Bible stories with gravity, humour and even one feels with a touch of criticism for God’s pre-feminist attitude to the fair sex.

How could such a master be neglected? It was in answering this question that I believe I have stumbled upon the great hole in art criticism today. See “A Manifesto for New Humanism” below.

The sculptor’s name is Lorenzo Maitani. You can find splendid photos of his work in “La Facciata del Duomo di Orvieto” (SilvanaEditoiale 2002) or in our DVD see below. If you go to Orvieto take binocculars, the reliefs start at eye-level but go up about 10m, there are 112sq.m of them!

DVD will soon be available through the Orvieto Tourist Board.