Raphael: The Stanza della Segnatura, Rome

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This diverse, lavishly illustrated group is unified by its focus on the art form of the fresco--the application of pigment to wet plaster--and can be taken together or separately, highlighting the beginning, middle, and end of the Renaissance. With diagrams and background material, these books simplify the planning and execution of frescos so that even young adults can understand these great undertakings. Cole's book begins by describing the medium and method of fresco painting and can function as an introduction to the series. It then discusses the Scrovegni Chapel, one of the early complete cycles of Giotto. Cole explains clearly the significance of the individual works in the cycle, which movingly tell the story of redemption through Christ. Background on the Scrovegni family, who commissioned the work, along with some biographical facts about the painter, who presaged the Renaissance with lifelike figures and emotional expression rather than Byzantine symbolic form. The Brancacci Chapel has been the subject of much attention since the completion of its restoration in 1990. Ladis is not so much concerned with conservation as with the art of fresco painting, covering similar territory as Cole in his opening chapter, though more briefly. He provides one diagram, which shows the layout of individual paintings on the wall and who the artist for each was--e.g., Massaccio, Masolino, and Filippino Lippi--so one can compare the contrasting and complementing styles. Another diagram of Masaccio's famous painting, ``The Tribute Money,'' numbers the order in which the plaster segments were painted Beck describes the interaction of the paintings in the Stanza, which embody the four areas of knowledge at the time--poetry, philosophy, theology, and justice. The book is liberally illustrated with color plates and contains biographical information about Raphael, who was originally commissioned by Pope Julius II to paint the Stanza as a library. Each of these beautifully produced volumes contain a tailored, selected bibliography and a glossary of fresco terms. They will introduce the student, traveler, and interested lay reader to Western civilization's unequaled art. Highly recommended for most art book collections.-- Ellen Bates, New York
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