This year marks the five hundredth anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci. Last month I put up a review post of Leo Steinberg’s interpretation of the Last Supper, and I would like to follow up by reprising a 2012 post on Giorgione and Leonardo.
Not far from Padua, along the Brenta river bank, stands an architectural complex that, even just by virtue of its bulk, exerts a gravitational pull on those who happen to pass by it, unconcerned about the private property signs affixed all around. Vegetation intertwines together with its capitals, covering its long walls and invading its passages barred by big, rusty padlocks. The Charterhouse of Padua was built starting from the 16th century under the guidance of architect Andrea Moroni, who had already been the master builder of the basilica of Santa Giustina. Upon his death, the complex was finished by Andrea della Valle. The calm rhythm of its porticoes evokes the vanished grandeur of this place, that now attends silent and proud to the passage of time. In its harmonious shapes, however, it still echoes the spirit that leads the construction of the vast complex today in ruins.
Ernest Fiene, Notre Dame, 1929, lithograph on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Baum in memory of Edith Gregor Halpert, 1971.320
On April 15, 2019, the world watched as the Cathedral of Notre Dame caught fire, destroying much of one of the most important buildings in the world. Parisians came out in support of their beloved cathedral, while others began to reflect on the importance of the cathedral in their lives. At SAAM, we started looking at the works in our collection that depicted Notre Dame, and asked Senior Curator Eleanor Harvey, to give us some background on why the cathedral has been beloved by American artists for years.