The “Triumph of the Death” of the Monumental Cemetery of Pisa, a pictorial masterpieces of Italian Medieval art dated back to the years 1336-1341, is attributed to Buonamico Buffalmacco. In the centre of the scene the Death, personified in a sort of winged demon with bat wings and sickle, is about to invest a group of wealthy young people to the right, totally ignoring a bunch of beggars, who on the left invoke her as the liberation of their sorrows. Within the group of beggars who invoke death as extreme consolation to their disasters, the figure of the leper is clearly defined, appearing as an individual with the typical facies leprosa. In fact, the man shows atrophy of the nasal region, as the nasal cartilage is totally lacking, and probably blindness, as the eye is devoided of the pupil and seems obscured. The upper limbs, stretched towards the Death, appear as two stumps totally deprived of the hands at the level of the wrists. Another beggar of the group appears as a blind, with the eyes covered by a bandage, and the right hand reduced to a stump, wrapped in a rag closed by a string at the wrist. It is in both cases the iconographic description of a rather typical and advanced stage of the pathology. Leprosy constitutes a sort of archetypal disease for the medieval world; the leper is seen as a shameful being, struck by a disease that is a kind of divine curse. In the case of Pisa, we observe a didascalic representation, as a figurative sermon that marries well with the search of greater realism aimed at impressing the observer. The remarkable fact that distinguishes the lepers of the cemetery of Pisa is, indeed, the highly realistic style of representation, for the first time so accentuated in Western art, as result of probable direct observation of the disease, and not a stereotyped figuration as is usually the case in medieval art up to that time.
|Autori:||Fornaciari, A; Gaeta, R; Giuffra, V|
|Titolo:||Leprosy in the Pisan fresco “Triumph of Death” (1336–1341)|
|Anno del prodotto:||2018|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1016/j.jinf.2018.04.015|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|