TUSCANY - Florence
FILE : Cathedral 18
TITLE : St. Bartholomew and two Saints

LOCATION: Firenze, Cattedrale di S. Maria del Fiore. Northern tribune, window n II, St. Bartholomew chapel (two-lancet w.).

PROVENANCE: original location.

DIMENSIONS: cm. 700 x 190.

CHRONOLOGY: 1442 (recorded: commission 28/8/1442).

AUTHOR: Domenico di Piero of Pisa on a decorative plan by Lorenzo Ghiberti.

ASSIGNEMENT: Opera del Duomo.

SUBJECT: a 1-4 Saint; b 1-4 Saint; ab 5-10 St. Bartholomew enthroned in a canopy. Inscription S(an)C(tu)S BARTOLO.

CRITICAL NOTES: The stained glass window is by Domenico di Piero di Pisa. It’s part of a group of 15 celebrating Christ’s genealogy (together with the 15 of the Tribunes) (Acidini Luchinat) and planned by Lorenzo Ghiberti for the Cathedral chapels. Domenico di Piero is also the author of the South Tribune windows with the Virgin and Child and St. Matthew’s in the North one, between 1442-43.

The whole work was concluded in the years 1435-1443 by various master glaziers supervised by the same Ghiberti that had sketched some cartoons himself for some stained glass windows. In spite of the many authors that realized that, the series of the chapels windows is homogeneous and it follows Ghiberti’s plan and his style.

For instance, the layout of St. Bartholomew’s figure, reveals a linear tension that seems to run through the body diagonally from the left knee to the right arm –not only enriching the figure with elegant lines on the surface but also "building" the image plastically - is similar both in the figure of St. Matthew, by Domenico di Piero and in St. Thomas’ , in the southern tribune, even though it was executed by Guido di Niccolò and his workshop in 1443.

Further confirmation that follow Ghiberti’s instructions even comes from the single details, as for ex. The unnatural length of the Saint’s right arm, holding the attribute: such a "deformation" in fact can be also found, more stressed, in the stained glass windows with St. Barnabas, St. Andrew, St. Stephen (even though much has been inserted), St. Jacopo, St. Matthew and St. Paul, made in different times by Bernardo di Francesco, Guido di Niccolò, Domenico di Piero and Lorenzo di Antonio. The same detail appears also in the ocula on the cathedral façade, representing St. Laurence and St. Stephen, made between 1412 and 1415 by Niccolò di Pietro Tedesco, as to confirm Ghiberti’s autography in representing the supporting figures, beyond the individual technical contribution of the masters Ghiberti collaborated with in the tima.

To Ghiberti’s original idea refers also the way the space is organized in the work, generally classified in the iconic typology with architectonic organization with canopies, a very common typology in central Italy since the very start of its introduction in the last decades of the XIII century (Assisi, Upper Basilica) coming to the beginning of the Quattrocento with the unrivalled work by Mariotto di Nardo in Perugia (S. Domenico, 1411) (V Perugia C. di S. Domenico 1)– through a long reworking, in a more and more realistic key all through the Trecento, as can be singled out in S. Croce and S. Maria Novella in Firenze, at Certosa of Galluzzo and in the same naves of the Florentine cathedral

Indeed, that example seems referring to Ghiberti, that maybe knew Mariotto di Nardo since the first years of the century (Boskovits assumes that the two worked at the eye on the Duomo façade with the Assumption, in 1405), yet denoting his position of a man in the borderline between the late Gothic and the Humanism. In fact, there isn’t the traditional scheme anymore in the lower part of the window, as the two figures are contained in a space perfectly singled out by the linear perspective and presented with plain and essential lines. Moreover Ghiberti had already proposed what will be the future development in the typology that, halfway through the XV century the structures of the classical tradition replaced the gothic ones.

As far as the iconography is concerned, the two Saints of the lower register has not been identified yet, also because the Legenda Aurea does not help out with the details. Generally they may be two personages among those converted by St. Bartholomew (Acidini Luchinat).

CONDITIONS: All the Cathedral stained glass windows have undergone a through restoration and integration work, of which considerable is the latest, executed by U. de Matteis of Bruschi’s glasswork (end XI – beginning XIX century) and by Studio Tolleri in Florence (1946-1957).

The most recent intervention was led by Prof. S. Papucci, A. Beccatini and R. Cappelletti of Studio Polloni in Florence, concluded in May 1989.

The dissembling was made with great care as the stained glass was without frame. On the outer side of the glasses deposits has been found, at times biotic elements as well that, together with dampness, is the cause of the present corrosion of the glass. The deposits have been washed off with distilled water, compresses of E.D.T.A., ammonium carbonate and scalpel for the cavities. To protect the glass, a blend of heated linseed oil and beeswax was spread on the surfaces .On the inner sides the black smog deposits have been cleaned up with compresses of ammonium carbonate in solution. Then, the polishing of the lead frames – they turned out to be not the originals but made in the restorations of the XIX-XX century – and the soldering of the parts broken.

The crevices in the tesseras have been glued with U.V. ray photosensitive resins, occasionally with shaped pieces of colourless glass, and then painted without heating process. All the painting integrations are without heating.

The stained glass window has a frame and a counter-frame to protect and isolate it from external humidity, thanks to the isothermal glazing.

The whole work has been documented with reports,graphic and photos surveys, also with a scheme of the previous integrations.

BIBLIOGRAFIA: vedi Bibl. FIRENZE – GHIBERTI.

REF. FOTOGRAFICHE:

ESTENSORE: Marina Del Nunzio (luglio 2000).