Cosmus Pictor. Il “nuovo organo” di Ferrara: armonia, storia, e alchimia della creazione



Storia dell’arte 4, Ottobre – Dicembre 1969

Enrico Guidoni e Angela Marino

Cosmus Pictor. Il «nuovo organo» di Ferrara: armonia, storia, e alchimia della creazione

The front of the organ of Ferrara, depicting Saint George defeating the dragon and rescuing the Princess, represents, according to a plan with which the commissioner of the work, Bishop Roverella, certainly agreed, the completion of the project of drainage of the swamp around Ferrara, and at the same time, the « addizione » of Borso (1466). The connection of the theme of St. George with political themes is valid not only on the municipal level, but also on the level of politics in general, that is relating to the crusade against the Turks (supported by Pius II, who died in 1464, a friend of Bishop Roverella). The drama of the threatened Church thus coincides with the plan of the external panels; the hypothesis of a new « cosmic harmony », symbolized by the Christian religion but also partaking of the contributions of more ancient cultures and revelations, is expressed in the inner panels. This purpose is suggested by the fact that, behind the wings of the Annunciation Angel-Mercury, the divinity who bestows the gesture of the Creator is not God the Father, but Jupiter as is evident by his position in the monochrome series of the planets. This original iconological solution is considered in relation to the horoscope of the religions and to the astrological poetry of Pontano, but above all in the light of the philosophical and symbolical system of alchemy and hermetism (according to the values they assumed in that cultural environment and in that time); this examination strengthens the hypothesis, confirmed by the significance of the Madonna, seen as the humanistic « Virgo Sapientia », that Tura intended to « historicize » Christian dogma, inserting its particular myth of the Incarnation in the wide context of theological philosophy. The poetic inspiration of Tura in his pictorial art is accomplished, finally, by the unmistakable « monogram » of his technique (his so-called style), an examination of which confirms the esoteric, alchemic and astrological components of his figurative culture.

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