my Marche
Art and Culture



Sometimes I think that it is not necessary to go to the Louvre or the Uffizi to admire art.

And in any case you never enter a museum to see a hundred masterpieces all at once, it's better to go there to observe one work, at most two, the ones you consider most interesting, and quickly say goodbye to all the others because they are still works that must be honoured. In the Marche region, for example, in the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino, there is a masterpiece that perhaps many national and international galleries would like to own. Fortunately it is still here, perhaps due to the foolishness of some diligent art dealers who frantically toured Italy in the 19th century on behalf of international clients, both public and private, stocking up on works.
- An incomprehensible experiment .- the agents of the Tate Gallery defined it, and The Flagellation by Piero della Francesca remained forever in Urbino, while many other paintings unfortunately even ended up overseas.
Today this “experiment” has turned out to be a  puzzle worthy of a Dan Brown thriller. His story really has all the makings of a series on Netflix and it would be authentic, all wonderfully Italian.
Commissioned by no one knows who, and you must know that Piero was a highly esteemed artist, so his client must certainly have been rich, this small poplar panel remains one of the most enigmatic and

esoteric ideas of the entire Renaissance.
Spies, murders, Popes and Emperors of the East and West, magical formulas, divine proportions, golden sections and quadratures of the circle intertwine in his presence. A detail for example: the unit of measurement of the table is placed above the head of the character with the pointed beard, the most prominent man in the diplomatic environment of the Renaissance: Cardinal Bessarion, perpetually dressed in black, in mourning for the century of him. The black strip of marble on the cornice of the temple, multiplied ten times by seven provides the exact measurement of the panel: cm. 58,4 x 81,5. Piero was a mathematician, he believed in divine proportion, in the magic of number. The author of "La Prospectiva Pingendi" used perspective as an architectural composition to geometrically develop space so as to seem to be inside it. Inside how? Like a vision. Perspectiva in Latin means: to see through. A prophecy, therefore, or to transmit a vision that had to be clear only to the initiated and which takes inspiration from some of his "Platonic" friends such as Nicola Cusano and Leon Battista Alberti, not least his friend and fellow countryman, the Franciscan mathematician Luca Pacioli . It was no joke in those days: the Grand Orient was nothing other than the transposition of information and Greek texts that were brought to Italy by Greek refugees, including Cardinal Bessarion, who favored a new knowledge that was disliked by part of the Church but which certain Popes, such as Pius II known as the humanist –  who died in Ancona among other things – openly favored it.
The Flagellation   touches on an event that in the early Renaissance shocked both the East and the West, a sort of September eleventh of those times, when Constantinople, after eleven centuries of domination that began with the emperor Constantine, the one who endorsed Christianity and made it the state religion, it fell at the hands of Sultan Mehmet II in May 1453.
Here is the flagellated Christ on the left column and that defenseless Pilate, with the hat and shoes of an emperor, and the man with the turban who witnesses the scene. In the other stage three men who seem to live elsewhere and who are probably conversing about what happened.
We must certainly know the historical and political implications of what led to the end of an Empire and a city, considered the second Rome and which the West, at the hands of the Pope, hastened to replace with a third which still resists and reigns.
The granddaughter of the last emperor managed to save herself, that Zoe Paleologus who landed in Ancona - Zoe in Greek means life, not by chance -   welcomed by Bessarion she stayed for a period in the city and then headed   to Rome, where the Pope tried to combine a marriage that could seal a rediscovered and renewed Christianity in a safer place: the Russia of Ivan III. It was Zoe who introduced the magnificence and pompous etiquette of Byzantine ceremonies to the Kremlin, promoting that idea of ​​the Empire that we still find today. If Russia and Turkey have always been on good terms it is because, in some way, the wonderful city of the Golden Horn, first Constantinople then Byzantium and finally Istanbul, passed the baton to them.
For those who want to delve into the history: "Piero's enigma" by Silvia Ronchey, for those who want to know how the Adriatic, at that time, was the most important sea in the Mediterranean and cities like Venice, Rimini, Ancona were incredibly connected with the fascinating East.


Geneva Nicotra 3 April 2024 at 13: 12

Very interesting article. Usually we look and admire the painting as a whole: author, colours, scene depicted but we never become aware of the "backstory" told here. Congratulations Lorenza!

Lorenza Cappanera
Lorenza Cappanera 9 April 2024 at 22: 13

Thanks Ginevra!


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