While a fellow at Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Umbria, I was fortunate to spend several days admiring Piero della Francesca’s (1412?-1492) works. It was a magical and unique experience, and soon I started to enter his world of perspective, spatial organization, proportion, and detail.
Della Francesca’s The Legend of the True Cross (1454-1458) in the high altar chapel (Cappella Maggiore) of the church of San Francesco in Arezzo had a particularly strong impact on me. I had noticed it in several art history books, yet seeing it live was quite overwhelming. In fact, such was its enchantment that I found it difficult to physically leave the space. Moved by the experience, I began to sketch Dalla Legenda aurea.
Wanting to know more about della Francesca’s personal story and process, I consulted a collection of saints’ lives, Legenda aurea (The Golden Legend) by Giacomo da Varazze (also known as Jacobus the Voragine), which was the basis for della Francesca’s panel of frescoes. Although several scenes depicted by della Francesca are not included in Varazze’s collection, I decided to refer to this medieval text in my title, as it was the painter’s point of departure.
Della Francesca’s rich array of colors, landscapes, personages, and parallel narratives – in continuous movement from one side of the panel to the other – appear in my work in association with particular musical gestures and instrumental textures. Therefore the ten sections of Dalla Legenda aurea are performed continuously in the sequence of the events depicted in the frescoes.
I. Story of Adam: Three Death Scenes Under a Blue Sky
II. Visit of Queen Sheba to King Solomon
III. Burial of the Wood
IV. Annunciation to Mary
V. The Dream of Emperor Constantine
VI. Victory of Constantine
VII. Raising from the Well
VIII. Invention of the Cross (Finding and Proofing)
IX. Victory of Heraclius: Death of Chosroes
X. Restitution of the Cross