FILE : Duomo 9
TITLE : God questions Cain—Cain kills Abel

LOCATION: Pisa Duomo, window s XI

DIMENSIONS: 2.425 X 0.95 m. (panel 1, rectangle,1.145 x 0.95 m.-panel 2, arched, 1.28 x 0.95 m)

PROVENANCE: The window has been moved from is original location in light n XIV, where a nineteenth-century window is now installed. In the original arrangement this fifteenth-century window belonged to the iconographic sequence on the north side, devoted to Genesis.

CHRONOLOGY: 1453-1454

AUTHOR: Della Scarperia workshop: Goro di Bartolomeo, Leonardo di Bartolomeo, and Bartolomeo di Andrea "Banco" (documented by a payment to "m(aestr)o Lunardo e Ghoro di Bartolomeo da la Scharparia e co(m)pagni maestri de le finestre dil vetro").

PATRON: Opera della Primaziale

SUBJECT/I: Panel 1: The panel includes a section of border from another source which was used here as a stopgap. Against a landscape partly cultivated with grain, Abel holds a hand to his head; Abel has fallen under the hand of Cain, who wields a heavy bat. Panel 2: On the left, Cain stands leaning against his bat; on the right, God the Father, surrounded by angels, questions him. The background is populated with numerous animals and probably includes a grain field.

CRITICAL NOTES: The stained glass windows in the Duomo of Pisa had been scarcely noticed by scholars. The author of this file re-evaluated this corpus in a study that included direct examination of the stained glass windows and an exploration of the glazing cycle’s rich documentation. As a result of that research—recently published—the artistic personality of master "Lunardo" [Leonardo] was defined and distinguished from that of other members of the Della Scarperia workshop. Documents reveal Leonardo and his brother Goro received payments from the Opera della Primaziale (large sums that corresponded to more than one window) but archival documents offer little information that aids in a reconstruction of the artistic personalities in the bottega. Leonardo’s activity in the workshop is documented for a decade, but Goro’s name disappears from the documentation after one year. This is one of the reasons for attributing to Leonardo some of the first windows of the Genesis cycle in which there appears a particularly advanced technique: the use of flashed glass that has been abraded and then touched with "sanguine" (incarnato), a pigment applied to glass before firing. Some of the windows attributed to Leonardo on the basis of their technique are: Creazione di Adamo --Creazione di Eva (Pisa duomo 2), Lamech kills Cain (Pisa duomo 6) and Noah’s Ark (Pisa duomo 7).

Other windows reveal Leonardo’s collaboration with his cousin Banco. Besides this window devoted to Cain, see Abraham with the three visitors and Sacrifice of Isaac (Pisa duomo 8) LINK. Unlike most of the first scenes from Genesis, which were directly influenced by the Genesis frescoes attributed to Paolo Uccello and Dello Delli in the Chiostro Verde of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, this window shows the influence of Alesso Baldovinetti.

Based on stylistic criteria, the panels attributed to Banco include, in addition to this window dedicated to the Stories of Cain, also the following: Curse of Man LINK [Pisa Duomo 4and the two episodes depicted in window s XII: Joseph gives grain to his brothers and Moses receives the ten commandments [Pisa duomo 10]. The author of this file had the opportunity to conduct a close inspection of the glass, and this revealed the hand of Banco also in s XV, Stories of the Tower of Babel (Pisa duomo 12) and s XIII, the Stories of Jacob and Esau (Pisa duomo 11); these particular windows show Banco’s mature style at the end of the quattrocento when Banco conducted a restoration which must have completed damaged sections of the earlier cycle of windows; in some cases the restoration seems to have resulted in the re-making of entire scenes.

The windows attributed to Banco are distinguished from those assigned to Leonardo on the basis of a vigorous trace line which Banco used to model and describe the forms; the figures were created through the use of a light application of grisaille to create a solid monumentality.

CONDITION: The most recent restoration (1982/1987) eliminated disturbing mending leads by using epoxy. In previous (nineteenth-century) restorations various pieces of glass were repainted and stopgaps were utilized.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: See Bibl. Pisa Duomo – in recent volume by R. K. BURNAM Le vetrate del Duomo di Pisa "Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi - Italia, vol. 2, Quaderni della Scuola Normale di Pisa, Pisa, 2003.

PHOTOGRAPHIC REF.: R. K. Burnam Archive

EDITOR: R. K. Burnam, June 2003