Arezzo, September 2011

And so to Arezzo, to track down some more Margaritos  and get a sense of the context within which he worked.
  First stop the Dominican church. Nothing here by Margarito, but a superb (and superbly restored) crucifix by Cimabue, dated around 1270. Margarito must have known this work, but clearly was not influenced by it.
  The image showing the suffering, dying Christ is in a style that was totally new and innovative for the period, sometimes called Christus Patiens, the suffering Christ. This became the norm from this time forward.

On to the Duomo, then the Pieve Santa Maria – and a crucifix by Margarito. (Below). 

  Although only painted a few years apart, the difference between the Cimabue and the Margarito is astonishing. Margarito’s crucifix is in the style known as Christus Triumphans, eyes open, showing no signs of suffering. This is the last gasp of this style of painting in Italy; the Christ image would never be the same again.

  Next, the unmissable church of San Francesco and the frescos by Piero della Francesca in the Bacci chapel. We managed ten minutes alone with them – precious time indeed.

   There was an art exhibition below the church relating to Vasari and his Lives of the Artists. A quiet show in a provincial town that would be a sell-out in London or New York – or ought to be, with sculpture by Michelangelo amongst other things! The first item? Another dossal  by Margarito!  This comes from the sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Vertighe near Monte San Savino, Arezzo. I spent some time waiting for the attendant to look the other way so that  I could take the picture, only to find a much better image on Italian Wikipedia when I got home.

  This is a much more straightforward artwork than the one in London. Here we have four easily identified events from the life of the Virgin: the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Magi, Mary’s Assumption. As in the London dossal, the Virgin sits on Solomon’s throne.
   Yes, it’s almost laughably crude (though perhaps a little less so than the London work,) and yet its unsophisticated honesty certainly speaks to me. Cimabue, just look what you started. 

There are more Margaritos in Arezzo’s art gallery, but time in the town was up. Maybe we’ll come back – it’s not a long train trip from Florence. But there are so many places in Italy, and life is short . . .

September 2012

  Well, we made it!  As we'd hoped, a pleasant train ride through the Tuscan countryside from Florence. 

  The art gallery had a couple of Margaritos on show, with a third - one of his images of St. Francis - off on a trip to another gallery somewhere. It's a rather bureaucratic art gallery: visitors were admitted at half hour intervals, despite the fact there was hardly a soul in the place.  The house of Vasari was difficult in a different way; we eventually found it, but there was no indication anywhere of how to get in. 


Margarito: Madonna and Child with Saints.
Museum of Medieval and Modern Art, Arezzo.

The Museo del Duomo had crucifixes attributed to Margarito. Presumably he was responsible for the painting rather than the carpentry; sadly there is very little paint left. 

Some Arezzo locations:

San Domenico


Pieve Santa Maria

Margarito Index
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