Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 17473
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Cassidy , Brendan.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Orcagna’s Tabernacle in Florence: Design and Function [In the mid-fourteenth century, Andrea Orcagna was commissioned to design a new shrine to house an image of the Madonna in the Church of Orsanmichele in Florence. The author describes the original appearance of the shrine and the devotional purposes it served, as well as the shrine’s relationship to an earlier tabernacle that stood in Orsanmichele. The shrine provided a focus for devotion to the Virgin, and although it was not originally designed for celebration of the Mass, it was at some point converted to include an altar for that purpose. Title note supplied by Feminae.].
  • Source: Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 55, ( 1992): Pages 180 - 211.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Altarpieces Architecture- Religious Art History- General Compagnia della Madonna di Orsanmichele, Confraternity in Florence Devotional Practices Florence- Church of Orsanmichele Mary, Virgin, Saint in Art Mary, Virgin, Saint- Cult Orcanga, Andrea- Painter
  • Geographic Area: Italy
  • Century: 14
  • Related Resources:
  • Primary Evidence: Decorative Art; Andrea Orcagna, “Tabernacle of Orsanmichele,” 1359, marble, lapis lazuli, gold and glass inlay (Orsanmichele, Florence). The free-standing shrine is divided into three tiers;the lowest tier comprises a parapet decorated with scenes from the life of the Vi
  • Illustrations: Twenty One Figures. Figure One Andrea Orcagna, “Tabernacle of Orsanmichele,” 1359 (Florence, Orsanmichele). Photograph gives a frontal view of the tabernacle as it appears today; it is free-standing with no barrier in front. Figure Two Plan of the Tabernacle of Orsanmichele. Diagram gives an aerial view of Orsanmichele, providing the dimensions of the wall on which the painting of the Madonna hangs and the width of the door, winding staircase, channels for screens, and tunnels. Figure Three Stained Glass Window, Orsanmichele, Florence. Window depicts worshippers kneeling before the shrine of the Virgin. Figure Four Andrea Orcagna, “Tabernacle of Orsanmichele,” 1359 (Florence, Orsanmichele). Photograph gives a frontal view of the shrine before restoration; at the time the photograph was taken, the shrine had been converted to accommodate an altar for celebrating the Mass. Figure Five Andrea Orcagna, “Tabernacle of Orsanmichele,” 1359 (Florence, Orsanmichele). Photograph gives a detail of a corner pier with a channel for screens. Figure Six Reliquary Ciborium, San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome. Photograph shows the monumental reliquary standing over the high altar. Figure Seven “View of the Bigallo Loggia,” (Florence, Seminario Arcivescovile, Codex Rustici). Manuscript illustration suggests what Orcagna’s shrine would have looked like when closed. Figure Eight Andrea Orcagna, “Tabernacle of Orsanmichele,” 1359 (Florence, Orsanmichele). Photograph gives a detail of fringed curtains on the shrine. Figure Nine Andrea Orcagna, “Tabernacle of Orsanmichele: The Nativity,” 1359 (Florence, Orsanmichele). Relief depicts the birth of Christ; the Virgin sits to the right, and sculpted into the relief is the motif of curtains being drawn back to reveal the scene to the viewer. Figure Ten Andrea Orcagna, “Tabernacle of Orsanmichele,” 1359 (Florence, Orsanmichele). Photograph gives another detail of fringed curtains on the shrine. Figure Eleven Manuscript illustration (Florence, Biblioteca Laurenziana, Biadaiolo Codex, fol. 79). Depicts a busy grain market with the old Orsanmichele tabernacle standing on the right. Figure Twelve Giovanni di Balduccio, one of the Apostle Reliefs, early fourteenth century (Florence, Orsanmichele). Currently set into the exterior wall of Orsanmichele, this relief is one of sixteen possibly taken from the old Tabernacle of Orsanmichele. Figure Thirteen Drawing of the shrine for the Sudarium in Old St. Peter’s, Rome from the Album Grimaldi. The reliquary has a rectangular base decorated with an image of St. Veronica holding her miraculous cloth. Figure Fourteen Engraving of a reliquary shrine from Ciampini (Rome, Santa Maria in Campitelli). The relic chamber stands atop a rectangular block at ground level, which is carved with heraldic devices of the patron and name of the sculptor Magister Deodatus. Figure Fifteen Rome, Santa Maria Maggiore, Shrine, engraving from De Angelis, “Basilicae Santae Mariae Maioris…descripto et delineato” (Rome, 1621). Figure Sixteen Rome, Santa Maria Maggiore, Shrine, engraving from De Angelis, “Basilicae Santae Mariae Maioris…descripto et delineato” (Rome, 1621). Figure Seventeen Drawing for the Cappella del Campo, mid-fourteenth century (Siena, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo). Figure Eighteen Andrea Orcagna, “Strozzi Altarpiece,” 1354-57 (Florence, Santa Maria Novella). Figure Nineteen Drawing for the Cappella del Campo, detail (Siena, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo). Figure Twenty Andrea Orcagna, “Tabernacle of Orsanmichele,” 1357 (Florence, Orsanmichele).. Photograph gives detail of the frieze of pale-colored quatrefoils on a red background. Figure Twenty One St. Michael from Orcagna’s “Strozzi Altarpiece," 1354-57 (Siena, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo) and St. Ansanus from the drawing for the Cappella del Campo (Siena, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo). The figures are depicted with nearly-identical poses and costumes.
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  • Year of Publication: 1992.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 00442992
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