Piero Della Francesca: San Francesco, Arezzo
Marilyn Aronberg Lavin, PieroISBN: 0807613177;
Italian Renaissance painter Piero della Francesca combined deep humanism and passionate faith in his most famous fresco cycle, The Legend of the True Cross , completed around 1466 in the Church of San Francesco in Arezzo. His narrative scenes dealing with the death of Adam, the Annunciation, Sheba and Solomon, Emperor Constantine's vision on the eve of a battle and so forth transformed popular fables into "heroic myths" about the triumph of Christianity over paganism, as art historian Lavin notes in this erudite monograph which reproduces the entire fresco cycle. The author, who has taught at Yale and Princeton, deciphers the cycle's political overtones, for example, its allusions to Italian princes' concern about the ever-increasing danger posed by the Ottoman empire. Lavin also analyzes the qualities that make Piero's art so contemporary, observing that his preoccupied, silent figures "offer some assurance that there is a realm where human intelligence rules, where it is still worth...
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