Gubbio at the time of Giotto. Art treasures in the land of Oderisi

The city of Gubbio preserves its splendid medieval aspect, with churches and stone palaces that stand out against the green of the Apennines. It is still the city of the time of Dante and Oderisi da Gubbio, the miniaturist that the great poet meets among the superb in Purgatory and to whom he dedicates important verses, which mark the beginning of a modern age that is manifested with the poetry of Dante and the art of Giotto.


In Gubbio at the Palazzo dei Consoli, the Diocesan Museum and the Palazzo Ducale from July 7 to November 4, 2018 is held the exhibition “Gubbio at the time of Giotto. Treasures of art in the land of Oderisi”, wants to restore the image of a city of medium size but of political and cultural importance in the Italian landscape between the end of the thirteenth century and the first decades of the fourteenth century, exhibiting the figurative heritage both civil and religious.

For the occasion he restored paintings hidden from the dust of the centuries, returning to Gubbio works scattered throughout history, bringing together paintings of the same painters from Gubbio destined for other cities in Umbria, calling important loans from abroad.

Paintings on wood, sculptures, goldsmiths and illuminated manuscripts outline, also with new attributions, the physiognomies of great artists such as Guido di Oderisi, alias Master of the Franciscan Crosses, Master of the Cross of Gubbio, Expressionist Master of Santa Chiara or Palmerino di Guido, “Guiduccio Palmerucci”, Mello da Gubbio and the Master of Figline.

Oderisi’s father, Guido di Pietro da Gubbio, is today identified as one of the protagonists of the so-called “Greek Manner”, from the Pisan Council to Cimabue. Palmerino was Giotto’s companion in 1309 in Assisi, and with him he painted the walls of two chapels of St. Francis, before returning to Gubbio and frescoing the church of the Friars Minor and other buildings in the city.

Guiduccio Palmerucci”, today the name of convention, is still attributed to rapinous polyptychs. Mello da Gubbio wrote his name at the foot of a Madonna with a full and Giulivo face as the Madonnas of Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the city of Siena. The Master of Figline, who painted the stained glass windows for St. Francis in Assisi, then the great Crucifix in the church of Santa Croce in Florence, is likely to have left Gubbio an extraordinary polyptych in the church of St. Francis, which we can admire again in this exhibition thanks to the current owners who have granted the first loan.

From the archival documents and the appearance of the Madonnas and Crucifixes hanging on the walls of the museums, it appears that the painters who worked alongside Giunta Pisano were originally from Gubbio, then they worked alongside Giotto and finally Pietro Lorenzetti, to cover the masterpiece that opened the doors of modern art in the church erected above the tomb of the saint of Assisi with colourful images.

Back home, those painters, who had been involved in the new language of Giotto and Pietro Lorenzetti for an audience of popes and cardinals, tried their hand with a refined style and popular appearance illustrative, to be understood by an audience of blacksmiths and stone masters. The language of the lauda was then spoken in Gubbio together with the language of the Comedy.

The exhibition “Gubbio at the time of Giotto. Art treasures in the land of Oderisi” is set up in three different locations, because there are immovable works, but also because there are places rich in meaning and full of beauty: the Palace of Consuls that rises above a fabulous terrace that makes it look like those cities that the saints bring to heaven in the altarpieces; the Diocesan Museum that stands next to the cathedral church and finally the Doge’s Palace, which was born as the seat of the City and ended up being the residence of Federico da Montefeltro, lord of Urbino.

Along this path you can walk the footprints of men and women of that ancient time, to see from the same perspective and understand with the same taste a civic and religious art at the same time.

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