📍 🇮🇹 Zeno's naive and bold bronze
Our greatest catch in Verone. 48 bronze panels, most of it from 1100-1150 CE. Old and New Testament combined. Here, we find ourselves in between a certain Romanesque calmness mixed with intense Gothic expressions; in between Byzantine refined patterns (Venetian-influenced perhaps) and Othonian/German power, heaviness.
French historian Henri Focillon called it "sublime", an old door "perpetuating the art of German metal craftsmen whose reputation and works extended all the way up to Novgorod, Russia." The spectator's first impression is that of a strange stiffness, very Romanesque, "but anecdotal details (dresses, nature, movements) are already Gothic...", Focillon continued.
A letter sent to his parents on June 28th 1923 is helpful to catch Focillon's intimate mindset:
"The greatest sensation of my journey so far is this bronze door decorated with reliefs that are extraordinary in their force and naivety. There I understood all the wrongs which Renaissance artists have done: the old metal founders were less theatrical but actually much bolder..."
____ Sources ____
>> Henri Focillon, “Lettres d’Italie”, 1923
>> Henri Focillon, "The Art of the West in the Middle Ages", 1938