This work of art is important and relevant to this time period because its portraying Saint Peter Martyr. His family belonged to a religious sect called the Cathars meaning “pure ones”, which were popular in the region of Verona at that time. The Cathars were perceived as dangerous as they spread the word that Rome had betrayed and corrupted the original purity of the message of Christianity.
Overview: This piece is called a Relief which is type of sculpture technique. There are several layers of borders that surround the core of the art piece. The main part consists of a man which is Saint Peter Martyr extending his two hands on two out of the three kneeling donors. The donors and Saint peter are looking to their right. They all seem to be wearing some kind of gown or cloak. The three donors have their hands together in front of their chest and their bodies are turned the same way they are looking. The middle donor has their hands crossed in front of them and not in a praying position. Behind them seems to be some type of curtain.
Parts: The elements in this art like the kneeling nobles, the direction of which each individual is looking and the fact that St. Peter Martyr has his hands over an on two of the nobles really seems to display the influence and emphasis on religion at this time and why it’s important for something like a tomb. The kneeling nobels support the idea that religion is important and should be respected and to some people held very highly. Keeling is a sign of respect as well as a sign of focus for what they are kneeling for/to. The fact that they’re all looking in the same direction symbolizes unity which is something religion can implicate. Looking in the same direction also gives off an almost unconscious agreement of harmony and consensus. Hands on top of the outer novels by St. peter again displays community because with that position they are all connected also showing protection and safety within them.
Using white marble, a relief technique and black dots on the eyes as just some principle designs contribute to the illustration a great amount. It represents how how sophisticated religion was seen as. Using marble and a relief technique is an advanced time consuming, detailed oriented approach which suggests that the artist thought that the message he was trying to convey and project was important and influential. The detailed dots on they eyes don’t give the characters a ghostly looking appearance, rather they give them an appearance of an actual human experiencing reality and displaying entity.
Title: The title is Relief with Saint Peter Martyr and Three Donors, The Cloisters Collection. This tells us exactly who kneeling people and exactly who the hand standing above them are. It also tells us that this wasn’t just a piece by itself but goes along with other pieces in this collection.
Interpretation: What is happening in this piece is a little hard to interpret I think without the other panels and without knowing whose tomb or grave that was placed on. But to have such a detailed piece on place on a tomb I would imagine that the person had a great impact on people. I believe St. Peter and his three kneeling novels are maybe looking to God and praying to him for help or for unity. The palm of martyrdom in his right hand represents the victory of martyrs, or the victory of spirit over the flesh so in this case could be indicating that St. Peter martyrdom was a victory as was the death of the person in the tomb or grave. The kneeling and identical positions and looks in the same direction could be a sign of respect and honor for the person as well.
Context: At this time around 1340 England has gained control over the english channel; right after they unsuccessfully tried to invade northern France. Giovanni Boccaccio also completes Il Filostrato, which is actual a poem written about a book.
Conclusion: Overall the piece portrays sophistication and advances in design and concept. Its appearances is clean and smooth. The white marble adds elegance. The details in the art elements and design principles like the borders, relief technique and detailed eyes contribute to the message of culture and religion. It’s obvious that these were important aspects and characteristics of people, settings and society in Medieval Middle ages. As a whole this piece is a success in convincing anyone viewing, consciously or unconsciously that this theme and message was held to a high standard during this time. Giovanni di Balduccio uses symbolism and visual guides to show the viewers an ample amount of information to tell Saint Peter Martyr’s story in a small amount of space as well as revealing the importance of using a tomb as a honorary monument at this time.