Da un arbusto all’Albero della vita: l’iconografia del Quarto apologo della Storia di Barlaam e Ioasaf nell’arte monumentale del medioevo italiano
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The research consists in an up-to-dated study on the iconography of the Fourth Apologue from Legend of Barlaam and Ioasaf (a christianized version of buddha’s life), known as The Apologue of the Man and the Unicorn, which developed inside the monumental art during the italian Middle Ages between the end of the 12th century and the second half of the 14th century. In the same art context there are two iconographic models: The Man on the Tree of Life and The Man fallen in the Abyss. the first one had a quite wide diffusion and is represented by following examples: the bas-relief in Parma’s baptistry; the fresco in San Francesco’s Church in Pozzuolo Martesana (Milan); the lost fresco in torre Colonna near tivoli (rome); the fresco in tre Fontane Abbey in rome; the central tondo of the fresco known as Rota di Barlaam in Corboli Palace in Asciano (Siena); the bas-relief in Sant’Isidoro’s Chapel in San Marco’s basilica in Venice; The Triumph of Death in San Francesco’s Church in Lucignano (Arezzo). the only example of the second model is represented by the bas-relief in Ferrara’s Cathedral. Present study, based on the comparative analysis of the apologue elements in the different examples, underlines the figurative revisions and the uniqueness of every work of art. Moreover, the apologue iconography is considered an important evidence of the cultural contacts between East and West in the Middle Ages.
keywordsiconography, Middle Ages, Legend of barlaam and Ioasaf, Unicorn, tree of Life, East-West cultural contacts
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