Okay okay okay… so I know I said I was going to write about the doors of the Baptistry…
I lied. But not on purpose! I accidentally just had a multitude of life-changing experiences that I can’t just NOT tell the world about!! Can you really blame a girl? I promise it’s worth it. Strap in, because we have a few topics to cover.
Now that we got that over with-let me tell you about the week I’ve had. This week I had the amazing opportunity to visit not only The Church of Ognissanti and stand in the presence of artwork by the masters (such as the bringer of The Renaissance, my man Giotto), but also take a day trip to Pisa and Lucca. Amazing cities, both of them, but Pisa stole my little art historian heart, so that’s what I’m gonna talk about. For the sake of trying not to jump back and forth, I’ll go chronologically. On Wednesday, my art history class took our field trip to Ognissanti, and from the moment I walked in I was truly in tears.
The perspective work of the ceiling was so absolutely incredible, looking up truly felt like looking into another world—into heaven itself.
Now, I’ll be completely honest, I’ve never been a largely religious person. It just was never a large part of my life. I always used to have a bit of disconnect in understanding how people in ages like the Renaissance could devote their entire day to sitting in a church and not getting bored out of their mind. But in that church, I understood immediately. Standing there, placing myself in the shoes of the people that had worshiped there, I almost couldn’t understand how someone couldn’t see God. How they couldn’t spend day after day, hour after hour, entranced by devotion. Not one square inch of that place wasn’t covered in oil paint, gold foil, sculpture, architectural detail, or fresco. The perspective work of the ceiling was so absolutely incredible, looking up truly felt like looking into another world—into heaven itself. In my research of the ceiling, in particular, I learned a new term, Trompe-l’œil. It’s french and directly translates to “deceive the eye”, and is typically used to describe the technique we often see artists use in architectural frescos (like the kind that we associate with Italian Renaissance church ceilings). This particular one was painted by Giuseppe Romei around 1770. Unfortunately, from what I understand, there were frescos there before the church was partially destroyed and then rebuilt. There are remnants of these, painted by a DIFFERENT Giuseppe, Giuseppe Benucci, but I didn’t get quite a chance to look at them. The original sketches of this ceiling are actually housed in The National Gallery but are unfortunately not on display.
Overall, a truly life-changing experience. I took so many photos, cried on the walk home, and proceeded to call my mom directly after.
If you’re still with me I’d like to get into Pisa. (I told you this was going to be a long one). Not only was the tower incredible, I mean who wouldn’t want to see the most famous architectural failure in history, but the Baptistery and Cathedral were almost more worth the trip. Along with that, we took a trip to a cook cemetery, which was eerie for sure, but also incredible. I couldn’t possibly pick one part to focus on, so I hope my photos will do it justice as I gloss over the contents of my day in Pisa. Of course, the tower was a must see-some of my friends got the honorary “holding up the tower” picture and we all had a laugh, but what we’re all really here for is the artwork in the baptistry and the cathedral. The baptistry was lined with beautiful stained glass and had marvelous acoustics and echoes. The whole world outside felt like it disappeared with how carefully quiet it was in there. We had the pleasure of listening to one of the employees sing, and angels really graced us at that moment. They graced us again in the cathedral, but in a totally different way. The walls were lined with incredible baroque art–my personal favorite, of course, was a depiction of The Judgement Day where archangel Michael was looking especially judgmental. It was completely immersive, and I had a grand old time talking to my friends about distinguishing Renaissance versus Baroque, and the significance of the appearance of each dog. The sculpture was incredible, but at heart, I’m a painting gal. I didn’t ever want to leave. I hope these pictures can portray the experience better than my words can. Included are also some of my favorite sculptures from the cemetery… The one particular one with the star on her head was so beautiful; these are definitely some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken.