Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Piecing together St James

  Andrea Mantegna Stories of St. James             
                Ovetari Chapel Padua
A reconstruction from coloured black-and-white photographs 
Image: Wikipedia 

Before we leave the season of St James the Great I recalled the fate of one of the masterpieces of the early Italian renaissance that celebrated his calling as an Apostle, his preaching and his eventual martyrdom. This was a fresco series by Andrea Mantegna and dated to 1448-57. It adorned the Ovetari Chapel of the church of the Augustine friary, the Eremitani, in Padua until March 11th 1944 when it was a victim of a USAF bombing raid - a raid which came very close to destroying the much more famous nearby Arena Chapel with its great cycle of paintings by Giotto.

Numerous fragments from the Ovetari fresco were recovered and eventually, after painstaking work, were in 2006, reassembled in the restored chapel.

The life and work of the artist is outlined at Andrea Mantegna. One of his particular skills was to research the architecture and art of the Roman world to create authentic settings for his paintings. This is well displayed in the Ovetari cycle about St James. Mantegna’s leading role in the work on the chapel from his late teenage years is discussed in Andrea Mantegna, his beginnings in Padua and the Cappella Ovetari

The fresco cycle is described and illustrated in a Wikipedia article on the Ovetari Chapel

There is a YouTube video about the restoration

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