Nanni di Banco, Four Crowned Saints

Nanni di Banco, Four Crowned Saints


(soft piano music) Man: We’re on the second
of Or San Michlele, and we’re looking at
one of the most famous sculptures that used to
be on one of the exterior niches. It has been brought
inside to keep it safe. This is Nanni di Banco’s,
The Four Crowned Mytryrs. These are four ancient
Roman sculptures, who are asked by the Roman Emperor,
Diocletian, to create a sculpture of a pagan God. They refused, and were put to death. The
moment that Nanni di Banco has chosen to get picked
is the moment when their coming to the realization
that this will be their fate. Lady: This is commission by
the stone masons skilled. Each skilled had a niche
on the outside of the Or San Michlele, and chose
a sculpture to represent their patron saints. This
is unusual in that we have four figures instead of
a single figure in the niche. The figures who are human
in their interactions. Man: Almost as if there’s
a negation going on between them, and as if
their thinking deeply about the consequences of
the decision that their in the process of making. Then
it is a deeply human experience. Lady: Instead of having
these single thoughtful figures like the Donatello
Saint Mark. We have figures who are looking
at each other gesturing. Man: Look at the vividness
of the interaction. As the man on the right
is speaking, his mouth is open. There’s that
wonderful dark shadow “ in that really deep carving,
and all of them are paying attention. Not necessarily
focused on him visually, we can see them listen
in the most engaged way. This is an extraordinary
expression of what stone can do. And this was
of course for the stone masons themselves. This
guild is showing the nobility of their profession
that stone can get to the heart of what it means to be human, and in a noble way to
live up to ones belief. Lady: Being a sculpture
in the early 15th century in Florence, looking
back at the ancient Greek and Roman sculptures,
it’s in sculpture that we see the revival to take
place. Artist like Donatello and Nanni di Banco, and
then later on soon Masacio. We’ll see that looking
back to ancient Greek and Roman culture. This looks
so ancient Roman to me. The faces look like
figures from ancient Roman Republican statues.
Their wearing these Roman togas. Several of them
stand in contrapposto epically, this one second
from the left, where we can really see his
knee pressing through the drapery and a sense of his
hips and really a body. Man: There’s kind of a
empathy that I feel for these figures that is
intensified, because it is these four men. Think
about Florence in the 15th century, which was
really thinking about its sense of community.
They took decisions together. Whether or not
they were going to act we ask to the [Milanese
02:48] for example. This notion of doing
things together, and doing things for the group was
absolutely central to the specific nature of this city. Lady: With Donatello
Saint Mark, you have the dignity of the individual
which was a very important part of humanism. Here
you have the importance of the relationships. The
importance of the group in Nanni di Bancos Four Crowned Saints. (soft piano music)

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