Saturday 4 April 2015

Piero Della Francesca’s ‘Resurrection’

Plagiarized from Joaquim D'Souza's Easter wishes:

Della Francesca’s ‘Resurrection’

Piero Della Francesca’s ‘Resurrection’
Aldous Huxley famously called it ‘the greatest picture in the world’. Looking down from an end wall of the mediaeval civic hall in the quiet little Tuscan town of Borgo San Sepolcro, Piero della Francesca’s ‘Resurrection’ is an image of astonishing power, showing a stern-faced risen Christ stepping out of his tomb in the dawn light of the first Easter morning like an unstoppable force of nature, exuding supernatural authority as he turns the leaves on the trees behind him from wintry death to the new life of spring. This is a painting like no other in the history of art. But we can only still see it today thanks to the essay to which it inspired Huxley in 1925, ‘The Best Picture’.
When in 1964 H.V. Morton published A Traveller in Italy, he recalled a few years earlier meeting in Cape Town a second-hand bookseller, Anthony Clarke, who told him the remarkable story of how Huxley’s essay had prompted him to save this fresco from destruction. In 1944, as a British artillery captain, Clarke had been sent forward to the hills above San Sepolcro, supposedly full of Germans, with orders to blast the town to smithereens. Recalling its name from Huxley’s essay, in the nick of time he ordered his guns to stop firing. A young boy coming up the hill told them that the Germans had all left. Warily entering the town, Clarke, with huge relief, found Piero’s masterpiece untouched.

(This is an extract from an article by Christopher Booker which first appeared in the print edition of The Spectatormagazine, dated 19 April 2014.)

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