May 28th, 2009
We moved indoors, decorated in black and white stripes the official colors of Siena. With the busts of 172 popes watching us, we stopped at Piccolomini’s altar. Piccolomini was the patron-in-chief of art in Siena. He went on to become Pope Pius II and found a more prestigious burial place in Vatican.
Michelangelo was commissioned to complete the altar. His heart was never into it as he was working on David in Florence simultaneously. Michelangelo completed only one of the fifteen pieces. Yet, the perfectionist he was, the result is startling. Steven Spielberg started shooting Schindler’s List while Jurassic Park was still in post production. I have always wondered how one could undertake such mammoth opus’s back to back. Would the imagination machinery not need a break?
Ghiberti made it a Renaissance fashion for sculptors to double up as models, a little naughty hat-tip to self. This statue is widely believed to be Michelangelo’s self portrait especially the broken nose. St. Paul’s dangling right hand could also be an early prototype that would materialize on David’s arm. Look for it.
(Read on: We are headed to Piccolomini’s library)