Fragments of medieval paintings survive on two walls of the ancient municipal palace of Brescia (Broletto). They represent two lines of knights bounded by chains. Every knight is identified by his family shield, with his name written in a line on the top. In two locations there are also fragments of general intitulation. Starting from these intitulations Giancarlo Andenna has recently made a convincing case that the paintings are dated from the last third of thirteenth century. Gherardo Ortalli has interpreted the images as an exemple of “infamating paintings” (pittura infamante), the pratice of punishing public e nemies by painting their images. It is possibile to specify these intuitions by a close analysis of the painting. Three elements are shared by all the knights. The first, the horse, recalls the social status of the represented individuals as members of the city’s militia. The second, the chain, recalls the im ages of hell, normally used to remind the observer that it is still possible to reach salvation. The third, a black triangle that hangs from the neck, identifiable as a money purse, is a symbol of avarice. Considering the importance of the notion of avarice in the italian city-state environment it is possible to say that the painting was made to represent some individuals punished for having exploited or stolen public resources. This fact and the identification of some of the represented individuals leads to the conclusion that the paintings where made in the ten to fifteen years after 1272 by a popular government involved in a program of recovering public goods, wich was threatened by several revolts. The punishing of these revolts in the thirteenth century hit a group of individuals belonging to families of rural lords that had tried to disrupt the communal policy of controlling the contado. The realization of the paintings was part of this punishment. The case of Brescia is not isolated. Recent discoveries demonstrate that also in Verona and Milan in the same period the walls of municipal palaces were painted with images of enemies. It was a way to define the city’s identity in the negative — by the very people who have been excluded. This kind of representation would soon be joined by a new one, based on allegories, but it continued to be a “social experience” for the cives of Italian cities, influencing the way Dante imagined his Inferno.
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|Titolo:||Before the Buongoverno: The Medieval Painting of Brescia's Broletto as Visual Register|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2011|
|Appartiene alla tipologia:||02a Capitolo o Articolo|