‘Bound by a Girdle. Bernardo Daddi’s Our Lady of the Assumption and the identity of a city’

Palazzo Pretorio hosts an exhibition to celebrate Prato’s iconic relic

From 08 September 2017 to 14 January 2018

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Among the events in Prato in 2017, today we want to point your attention to the exhibition entitled ' Bound by a Girdle. Bernardo Daddi’s Our Lady of the Assumption and the identity of a city", arranged in the halls of Palazzo Pretorio and open to the public until 14th January 2018. At the focus of the exhibition is the Holy Girdle – the belt of the Virgin May kept in the Cathedral – which for centuries has been the city’s most precious treasure: not just a strong religious symbol and the linchpin of Prato’s artistic events, but above all the city’s identity originator. 

The theme of Prato’s relic puts under the spotlight the city’s remarkably prosperous period of the 14th century, as evidenced by the commissions given to great artists such as Giovanni Pisano and Bernardo Daddi, who contributed to establishing Marian devotion in Prato as the main recipient of the city’s worshipping.

Inspired by the Holy Girdle, the Palazzo Pretorio exhibition in Prato, 2017, aims at presenting the city and its invaluable artistic and cultural heritage that stretches beyond the merely local confines.

 

THE HOLY GIRDLE: WHORSHIP AND LEGEND. First of all, what is the Holy Girdle, the undisputed protagonist of the highly-anticipated Palazzo Pretorio current exhibition? It is an 87 centimetre-long thin green woollen tape with golden brocade and two lanyards on the sides to tie it. According to legend, it belonged to the Virgin Mary who, at the time of her assumption into heaven, donated it to Saint Thomas. After several passages, the girdle reportedly arrived in Prato around 1141 thanks to the Prato merchant Michele Dagomari who, after journeying to Jerusalem, gave it in extremis to the priest of the cathedral.
Between the 12th and 13th centuries, the relic, miraculously brought to Prato, became a symbol of the spiritual inclination of the city and spurred numerous artistic events. It is difficult to establish with certainty if the girdle truly belonged to Mary, but what is certain is that it represents an extraordinary symbol for the city and all its inhabitants.

 

THE EXHIBITION. The 'Bound by a Girdle' exhibition, one of the most important Prato current exhibitions, is divided into seven sections: 

  1. From Cabestany to Prato: genesis of a theme. In this first part of the exhibition, you can admire the relief of the same name by the Master of Cabestany, a Romanesque sculptor who also contributed in the works for the capitals of the cloister of the ancient Saint Stephen Provostry in Prato. The work is one of the first attestations in the West of Our Lady of the Assumption in the act of donating her belt. 
  1. The returned Prato Pall by Bernardo Daddi. One of the most prestigious works dedicated to the Assumption and the gift of the Sacred Belt, is surely Bernardo Daddi's Pall, commissioned in 1337-1338. Unfortunately, with the passage of time the work became fragmented and the subject of a complicated diaspora but today, thanks to the exhibition at Palazzo Pretorio in Prato, you can see it in its entirety, to include a double predella with the story of the journey of the Girdle and its arrival in the Tuscan town (and then kept in the Museum) and the parallel migration of the body of Saint Stephen from Jerusalem to Rome to be reunited with that of St. Lawrence (on loan from the Vatican Museums). The final part shows the Assumptions of the Virgin Mary as she gives the belt to St. Thomas (arriving from the Metropolitan Museum in New York). 
  1. Bernardo Daddi narrator. In order to contextualize the work of the Giottesque painter, this section will exhibit other works belonging to the same stylistic stage, marked by a lively and happy narrative vein. 
  1. The Sacred Belt, the profane belts and Giovanni da Milano. On display in this section a collection of 14th century profane belts that document the beauty of this type of artifacts, as evidenced by the painting "Santa Caterina" by Giovanni da Milano in the polyptych of Spedale della Misericordia, one of the most precious works of art of the Palazzo Pretorio Museum. 
  1. The Assumption and the Belt: variants in the Tuscan Trecento. The exhibition will continue with a selection of different iconographic elaborations of Tuscan art in the 14th century, combining the death of the Virgin Mary and her Assumption: a series of sculptures, paintings and miniatures, will allow visitors to appreciate the different interpretations of the theme in the Florentine area, where Saint Thomas is painted as he grabs the Sacred Belt, and in the area of Siena, with a depiction of the belt being dropped by the Madonna in flight. 
  1. The Assumption and the Belt: the ensuing tradition. The iconographic tradition of the Assumption in the area of Tuscany, in which the theme of the Virgin of the Belt and St. Thomas alone prevails, will be the focus of the sixth section which will show a selection of particularly significant examples such as the Palls by Stadano and Santi di Tito. 
  1. The worship and display of the Sacred Belt in Prato and Tuscany. The Prato current exhibition at the Pretorio Palace will end with a section dedicated to the visual and document testimonies linked to the worship of the relic and its display, which, just to remind you, takes place five times a year: there will be precious containers and furnishings from the Chapel of the Belt of the Cathedral.

 

Among the Prato exhibitions in 2017, do not miss ‘Bound by a Girdle. Bernardo Daddi’s Our Lady of the Assumption and the identity of a city’: the doors of Palazzo Pretorio will remain open to the public until 14th January 2018!

Given the proximity, we recommend you to visit the beautiful Tuscan country seat: in our page dedicated to the' tours in Florence' you will surely find what is right for you!

 

Prato exhibitions present ‘Bound by a Girdle. Bernardo Daddi’s Our Lady of the Assumption and the identity of a city'

Location: Prato - Palazzo Pretorio

Dates: 8th September 2017 to 14th January 2018

By Insidecom Editorial Staff