'In Lucem Veniet', Siena Cathedral Floor uncovered

The cathedral floor, the wonder of Siena, at the center of an unmissable exhibition

From 18 August 2018 to 28 October 2018

Pavimento_Duomo_Siena
Bookable services
Tours & Activities Transfer

From August 18th to October 28 2018 the splendid floor of the Duomo di Siena will be uncovered to become the protagonist of an exhibition entitled: 'In Lucem Veniet' (the light will come). This exceptional work of art is usually covered by sheets of hardboard that preserve it from the trampling of the worshippers and tourists who visit the Siena Cathedral. On the occasion of the exhibition the beautiful inlays will not only be visible to the public, but will also be illuminated, as the title of the event suggests, by a new light. The peculiar chromatic effects born from the project of Opera Civita together with the Metropolitan Opera and thanks to HERCO technologies will offer a new key to interpreting the marvellous Siena Cathedral floor. In a marvellous play of light and shadows and of references between word, image and color, visitors can immerse themselves in the beauty of the floor of the Siena Cathedral. With a single ticket, in addition to the exhibition, you can visit the entire complex of the cathedral with the library, the crypt and the Opera del Duomo Siena Museum. Being a place of worship, the Duomo of Siena visiting hours may be subject to changes as a result of particular activities, while the Masses are transferred elsewhere during the uncovering of the Siena Cathedral floor for 2018. In any case we advise you to consult the official website of Opera del Duomo to check the opening hours. Meanwhile, let's tease your curiosity by describing some of the wonders that you can admire during your visit to the Siena Duomo and its wonderful floor.

 

DUOMO DI SIENA: HISTORY AND WORKS OF ART

If you happen to be in the city of the Palio, you cannot skip a visit to the Duomo of Siena: not only is it the most important church in the city, but it also boasts a real treasure trove of works of art. It is one of the most representative examples of an Italian Romanesque-Gothic cathedral. The façade with its alternation of black and white marble and the gold cusps and the glass of the oculus, is bright and full of details. In the Duomo of Siena, the interior, with the play of lights and shadows created by the arches and vaults, contrasts with the radiance of the exterior. While Giovanni Pisano, among others, worked on the facade, the interior contains a collection of masterpieces by great masters such as Bernini, Donatello, Michelangelo and Pinturicchio.

 

SIENA DUOMO: THE FLOOR

Among all the works you can admire by visiting Siena, the Cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and in particular the floor is perhaps the most exceptional masterpiece; so much so that Vasari described it as the 'most beautiful, great and magnificent ever done before.' But the fame of the Siena Cathedral and its floor has also extended beyond the national borders, since Anglo-Saxons visiting Italy have nicknamed it 'the wonder of Siena'. The writer Henri James talking about the colors of the mosaics describes them as a 'fermented polychrome' giving us an image of a unique suggestion.

 

TECHNIQUE: MARBLE INLAY AND GRAPHITE

In Siena, the Cathedral floor plan consists of an area of 1300 square meters divided into 56 marqueteries. The works started in the 14th century but lasted, thanks to the help of great artists, until the year 1800. Mostly sculptors of Siena worked on it, such as Sassetta, Domenico di Bartolo, Matteo di Giovanni and Domenico Beccafumi, but there were also artists from other places, such as Pinturicchio. The Masters who worked on it prepared the drawings on special preparatory cardboard, which will be on display at the Duomo museum. Next, mainly two techniques were used: marble inlay and graphite.

At the beginning, the floor of the Cathedral of Siena was built using the simpler graphite technique: the inlays were traced on slabs of white marble, after which the grooves were obtained with a chisel and then filled with black grout. The marble inlay, instead, is a particular type of mosaic of Roman origin in which the design to be represented is made up of various sizes of marble, glass or hard stone tiles placed together following the chn osen design.

Thanks to the uncovering of Siena Cathedral floor in 2018 from August 18th to October 28th you can admire the wonderful mosaics distributed in the various parts of the Cathedral:

  • NAVES. In this part the themes presented by the inlays are those of classical and pagan antiquity: the wolf with Romulus and Remus, the founder of human wisdom Hermes Trismegistus, the ten sibyls who made their prophecies in various parts of the world, philosophers such as Socrates, Cratete, Aristotle. In the fourth central nave there is the inlay by Pinturicchio which represents the personification of good fortune.

  • TRANSETTO AND CHORUS. In the Cathedral of Siena the floor of the transept and of the choir depicts the main events in the history of the Jewish people: the events of salvation represented by the figure of Christ that is evoked but never represented directly. The whole artistic itinerary converges towards the fulcrum of the altar.

  • HEXAGON. In the hexagon under the dome, but also near the altar there are inlays focused on the stories of Elijah, Ahab and Moses. They are the work of the mannerist painter Domenico Beccafumi who perfected the technique of the marble inlay by bringing together different shades of color with such mastery as to reproduce the effect of light and shade in the drawing.

 

Among the current Siena art exhibitions, 'In lucem Veniet', open from August 18th to October 28th, will allow you to admire what is truly the most exceptional masterpiece of the city of the Palio. So if you are planning a visit to Siena during this period, do not miss the opportunity to admire a truly unique masterpiece. In Siena, the Cathedral floor uncovered period is always limited so we advise you to plan in advance. A great idea is to book one of our tours in Siena that include the entrance to the Cathedral - even better if private, such as 'Your own Siena' thanks to which you can create together with our guides the itinerary that best suits your needs! What better way to organize your visit to the Siena Cathedral floor?

 

Dates: from 18th August to 28th October 2018

Location: Siena, Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral

Visiting hours: Weekdays 10.30 to 19.30 / Sundays from 9.30 to 17.30

By Insidecom Editorial Staff