400 – 1300
Medieval Era

Nicola and Giovanni Pisano

Nicola Pisano, Pulpit, Pisa Baptistery, 1260
Giovanni Pisano, Slaughter of the Innocents, Marble, 1301, Sant'Andrea church, Pistoia

Speakers: Dr. David Drogin, Dr. Beth Harris


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Previous Comments

Debbie Graham wrote on Saturday, January 01, 2011

It is true that Pisano is reverting to the Classical Greek examples here in his technic but I don't thing that the correlation is a reference back to Greek mythology. Rather the strength of Fortitude would be seen in the strength of Samson that the audience would have readily recognized because of the lion skin. Samson was an Old Testament figure whose strength was his virtue.One of his miraculous stories tells of him killing a lion with his bare hands. His fortitude was a gift of God represented in his long hair. This would be a more likely understanding for the church to have than would Hercules. So while the image might be based on Classical Greek images of which Hercules is only one of similar construction the symbolic understanding in this case would have more than likely been Samson. It would also be consistant with the Church's use of the Old Testament being foundation for the New Testament, having the images of the virtures represtented by Old Testament figures supporting the life stories of the Christ.

Chelsea Simmons wrote on Monday, September 12, 2011

Are you sure Fortitude couldnt be Daniel from the Lions Den? Editor's Note: The classical reference is the generally recognized interpretation among art historians, see for example John Pope-Hennessy's Italian Gothic Sculpture, page 171.

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