Friday, 10 May 2013

Entering St Peter's

Top: Giotto's "Navicella" (extensively reworked 17th century) Antonio Averlino "Filarete": Panels from the Central Door of St Peter's Basilica showing- above- Martyrdom of St Peter and -below- Martyrdom of St Paul (completed 1445). Bottom: Nave of St Peter's towards High Altar.

The three topmost images are of particular interest in that they were retained from the old basilica. That the mosaic was originated by Giotto seems hard to credit following the later reworking. Filarete's bronze door panels have fared somewhat better having been simply extended to fill the larger doorway of the new basilica.

On my earlier visits in 1979 and 2000 entry to St Peter's was somewhat easier. One could simply wander across the piazza and stroll in. Nowadays entry to the piazza itself involves going through airport style security procedures. I got the hang of remembering to take my mobile phone, keys and other metal objects off my person and put them with my jacket through an X-ray machine in the colonnade. This was, however, less of an irritant than the barriers inside the basilica which prevent access to and veneration of the statue of St Peter.

These shots were taken in the early evening of the Sunday during which we found that we were now able to visit the Treasury which is open as a museum housing such wonders as the monumental bronze tomb of Pope Sixtus IV by Antonio Pollaiuolo. There also may be seen the tiara used on St Peter's statue on feastdays and a couple of splendid  angels in clay by Bernini. These were models for figures in stone or bronze but being direct works had a vivid liveliness which even that master could not match in the finished works.There was also on display an accurate reproduction of the original supposed chair of St Peter which is enshrined within within Bernini's monument at the Altar of the Cathedra. Unfortunately photography was not allowed in the Treasury so I am unable to show these wonderful things.

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