"Archeologo Buscone", Project for the facade of the Cathedral

Unknown artist, alias "Archeologo Buscone" ("Buscone archeologist")
Museo dell'Ottocento
Paper, India ink
Height: 138,5 cm; Width: 110 cm;
Paper, India ink

This project was presented in 1862 at the first competition for the facade of Santa Maria del Fiore by an anonymous architect, who signed himself as Archeologo [Archaeologist] Buscone and with the motto L’Orbo (“the One-eyed”). It is one of the works that the commission excluded at the outset due to the lack of any merit: it is characterised by an eclecticism devoid of any structural logic.

The plan is in ink on paper, at 1:50 scale. The facade envisages a tricuspid type composition, featuring a mix of architectural elements of extremely different derivations: the portals are in Moorish style; in the oculus, the chariot of Sol Invictus is of classical origins, and this is flanked by decorations inspired by wrought iron; there are also references to textile art and the European Gothic. Above the central door, the proposal features an absurdly huge staircase, which leads to the iconographic image of the Christ-Sun.

The author of the project recognizes his own lack of artistic ability in the inscription on the lower right corner, and took the opportunity of the competition to denounce his difficult situation: seriously injured during the first independence war in 1848, he had lost the job and a fairly good fortune, but had obtained nothing from the king Vittorio Emanuele II despite repeated requests.

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