Thursday, November 19, 2015

Inside the Duomo

Lots of pictures today so I will try to keep the commentary at a minimum - much as I tried to do yesterday.

This is the central aisle in the nave of the cathedral.  As is to be expected, there were lots of people who also wanted to see this building, but I'll bet it is far more crowded during the summer months!

The ceiling is wonderful, isn't it?  Note the black and white theme again that was mentioned yesterday.  They are the colors of Siena so you will see them throughout the Duomo.  The use of the same color scheme inside as well as out makes for a more unified composition which isn't always seen in such grand buildings.

This is one of those quirky areas to be found in most of the large churches we have visited.  There's always somewhere an exit or a staircase is needed that doesn't quite fit into the grand scheme.  Or maybe the architects do this deliberately; I'd like to think they had the foresight to plan this wonderful  row of arches just for their own pleasure.  But if they didn't and had to come up with an answer to a problem, I applaud their seat-of-the-pants solution.  Whichever may be the case, it resulted in a delight for the eyes.

 This view find us closer to the high altar.  We didn't travel much further on as there were other delights beckoning.

However, we did get to see a few of the choir stalls.  Here's the back of one:

The bronze St. John the Baptist by Donatello:

The Last Supper in stained glass:

And the incredible inlaid floor of the Duomo.  These are now roped off so they will suffer no further wear and tear, but they are everywhere.  These are only a few examples of the artistry beneath one's feet:

Sometime when I can't think of what to write, I will put out the design elements that are around all the major pictorial pieces or fill the rest of the floor where there is no room for a big inlaid picture (some of which are very moving - The Slaughter of the Innocents, for one).  

But for now I want to show you the glories of the Piccolomeni Library which is also in the Duomo.  Our guide, DH, told me to close my eyes, and he led me into this room off the nave.  This is the ceiling:

I was speechless - even after I regained my breath!  The next two photos show two of the triangular elements that are on the higher part of the wall that curves into the ceiling above.

Pintoricchio did the frescoes on the walls which tell the Life of Pius II.  And some of you will recognize the signs of Renaissance paintings: the colors carmine lake, smalt blue, and Naples yellow, the understanding of human anatomy, and of perspective.  But never mind that and just enjoy these immense paintings in all their detail.

This is the "bridge" between the painting above and the one next to it.

Then details of some "minor figures" from another fresco ;

One that I found particularly charming both for the figure gazing at us from horseback (Pius II as a young man, I believe), and for the storm and rainbow in the background.

Here's a close up of that storm (and having struggled with painting a rainbow, I feel for Pintoricchio!).

The only books consisted of an amazing collection of manuscript music in "elephant folio" size (think of Audubon's bird folios in size).  These were intended to be seen from a distance meaning that only one manuscript would be necessary.  I won't apologize for the reflection of the triangular arches reflected in the glass protecting the manuscript because I didn't know how to avoid it and because I like it showing here as part of the wonderful calligraphy and illuminations.

A close up from different book:

Still another (there were many of these manuscripts lining the walls of the Library):

And a closer close-up of the same page:

And finally, some floors.  The first is in the Piccolomeni Library and the second from the lower level of the Duomo near the rest rooms.  

On Sunday, the plan is to move on from Siena to our next stop.


  1. That church is absolutely amazing. And that library -- what can I say? They are all magnificient photos - the colors are wonderful and the artistry just can't be beat !!

    Thanks so much for sharing !!

  2. You did a wonderful job of observing the magnificent details of this cathedral. I remember being in the Duomo and finding the crowds and the all the embellishments overwhelming. I longed for plain stone walls finding the linear lines of the black and white marble distracting. But I did love the floors (perhaps I could focus down on their exquisite artistry without finding my eye pulled elsewhere). Now looking at your photos I realize how much I missed. Rather than looking at the busy whole, I should have relished each vista individually. Thanks for sharing your vision.