A Printed Icon in Early Modern Italy by Lisa Pon

By Lisa Pon

In 1428, a devastating hearth destroyed a schoolhouse within the northern Italian urban of Forlì, leaving just a woodcut of the Madonna and baby that were tacked to the school room wall. the folks of Forlì carried that print - referred to now because the Madonna of the hearth - into their cathedral, the place centuries later a brand new chapel used to be equipped to enshrine it. during this publication, Lisa Pon considers a cascade of moments within the Madonna of the Fire's cultural biography: whilst ink used to be inspired onto paper at a now-unknown date; while that sheet used to be well-known by way of Forlì's humans as excellent; while it used to be enshrined in a variety of tabernacles and chapels within the cathedral; whilst it or one in all its copies was once - and nonetheless is - carried in procession. In doing so, Pon bargains an scan in artwork ancient inquiry that spans greater than 3 centuries of creating, remaking, and renewal.

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Photo: Cameraphoto Arte, Venice / Art Resource, NY impost blocks at the tops of the framing colonnettes, so that the Man of Sorrows is fully enclosed within the trefoil of the pointed arch. The rose-colored sarcophagus stretches from one impost block to the other, there completely interrupting the gold ground that is otherwise continuous between the two scenes, shining behind both the large figures of the Madonna and Child as well as the small Man of Sorrows. His head tilts at the same angle as the Mary depicted below; her halo, indicated by a double arc of punched dots, intersects a similar doubled line of punchwork just below the pink edge of the sarcophagus above.

This pronounced simplification of forms is absent in other parts of the picture. For example, the small saints depicted on either side of the central Madonna and Child are quite exquisitely detailed, with, for instance, pointed peaks of fur depicted on John the Baptist’s shirt, and curving waves of water, partially obscured by the thick strokes of blue hand coloring, that swirl around St Christopher’s legs. Similarly, despite their reduced scale and ruined state, what can be seen of the saints at the bottom of the picture show more Iconography: Madonna and Child 13.

16), was regularly carried in procession in Rome. The communal ritual of procession (discussed further in Chapters 6 and 7) is a fundamental act in the veneration of any icon, and especially so for this Roman image, one of the most important Marian icons on the Italian peninsula. Its retrospective title refers to a medieval legend that, while bearing it in procession around Rome during the plague of 590, Pope Gregory the Great saw the Archangel Michael sheathing his sword over Hadrian’s Mausoleum.

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