Giuseppe Cassioli, Tests for one of the doors of the facade of the Cathedral

Giuseppe Cassioli
Museo dell'Ottocento
Bronze, gold
Melting, gilding
Height: 89,5 cm; Width: 95 cm;
Bronze, gold

These three bronze high-reliefs were made by Giuseppe Cassioli in 1896-1897. They were among other models presented by the sculptor on the occasion of the competition for the bronze doors of the Duomo. Giuseppe and his son Amos would create the right door of the new façade, decorating it with scenes from the life of Mary, but the work was troubled and subject to constant changes during creation. The stylistic elements adhere to the eclecticism dominant in academic painting and sculpture in the late 19th century.

From right to left in the display, the first relief we see is ordered inside a square frame, as in the Gates of Paradise, and depicts the episode of the Flight into Egypt: in a bare and rocky landscape, the Holy Family walks ahead, assisted by a donkey who carries baby Jesus. This subject, however, was not used in the final version of the doors.

The second panel, partially gilded, has a quadrilobate frame inspired by the ancient doors of the Baptistery by Andrea Pisano and Lorenzo Ghiberti, and features the Annunciation to Mary, against the background of a Renaissance Venetian portico that recalls the Pazzi Chapel in the Basilica of Santa Croce. In this case we find the same subject in the final version of the doors of the right portal, however without the architecture in the background.

The third relief depicts the Flight into Egypt: Joseph, Mary and the Holy Child pause under a palm tree. In the background, Cassioli depicted a desert landscape identified by the three great pyramids. The same scene is found in the bronze panels of the completed door, however without the backdrop.

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