Christianity and the Renaissance: Image and Religious Imagination in the Quattrocento

By Timothy Verdon; John Henderson | Go to book overview

Cecco di Pietro (Figure 13.9). 42 This piece stands almost five feet high on a three-legged base that appears to be dated somewhat later than the upper gilded tabernacle. Around the top is placed a gabled screen of eight niches with a painted cycle of seven saints and the "Noli me tangere" scene. Orcagna's painted processional torches were probably not as elaborate, judging from his payment, but they certainly seem to have been important decorative objects for the confraternity.

The 1341 and 1350 inventories of the Company of Gesù Pellegrino convey a sense of the increasing aesthetic sophistication of the altar decoration and diversity of images and cult objects assembled in their chapel of Sts. Simon and Thaddeus. While the cult increased its private penitential focus around 1350, a social dimension was added which might be considered antithetical to the company's original paramonastic goal of "withdrawal from the things of this world." Elaborate public funeral ceremonies are not the only symptom of this social element; the rapid accumulation of decorative objects and the careful documentation of the company's material possessions are further proof. Consciousness of status and material concerns are also betrayed in chapters 33 and 35 of their statutes, which advised members that "they should not pray to be elected to office," and adjured brothers "to remember the Confraternity in their wills." 43 Altogether, the evidence suggests that members were caught between the simple, original goal of withdrawal from the world and greater, more diverse needs resulting from the growth of the confraternity as a lay religious institution. Ascetic, pietistic, and penitential impulses seem to have warred with social/confraternal ones in the hearts of members of Confraternity of Gesù Pellegrino during the period 1335-50.


APPENDIX 1

Inventory of the Company of Gesù Pellegrino's Possessions, 1341 and 1350: Compagnie Religiose Suppressi 910, no. 6

Items are numbered according to position in original fist; utilitarian objects and linens are condensed or omitted. Revisions of 1350 are found in parentheses on fols. 91v-92v and fol. 93r, nos. 93ff. Thanks and acknowledgment are due to John Henderson and Gino Corti for reviewing the transcription of the documents.

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