Countenances as lightning : the materiality of the Noli me tangere Fresco in Assisi

Variant title
Jeho vzezření bylo jako blesk : freska Noli me tangere v Assisi a její materialita
Source document: Convivium. 2018, vol. 5, iss. 2, pp. 82-97
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
License: Not specified license
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The materiality of Assisi's early trecento Noli me tangere fresco in the lower basilica's Magdalen Chapel warrants reconsideration. In this painting, of the Magdalen reaching toward the resurrected Christ, the artist gilded the faces of the witnessing angels on Christ's tomb and, more importantly, rendered them in relief. They thus confront the worshipper in three dimensions, literally depicting Matthew's description of the angel at the tomb, whose "countenance was as lightning" (Mt 28, 3). These relief faces are unique in fresco, and their significance is best understood in relation to other near-contemporary mixed-media renderings, particularly in panel paintings featuring figural relief, such as the Chiarito Tabernacle (1340s), and the late-thirteenth century Santa Maria Maggiore Madonna Altarpiece. Such sculpted painting, whether on panels or on walls, materially manifested the divine to worshippers through the sense of corporeal presence imparted by the use of relief in combination with painted imagery.
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