“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.”
As everyone already knows, the upper reaches of the Tiber are famous for having brought into being and sometimes nurtured some of the greatest personalities in the history of art; Michelangelo from Caprese in the foothills of the Tuscan Apennine, then Piero della Francesca from the rolling hills of Monterchi and Sansepolcro, Raphael and Signorelli the very expression of the Renaissance from Città di Castello and Maestro Alberto Burri, that great artistic interpreter of the twentieth century – just to mention the greatest and most famous.
There must be, it’s certain, a close relationship between the beauty of the landscape and the formal ability to express this same beauty. An equation that we could define as biological, in an anthropological sense. If we think of art as a representation of a fortunate serenity, in its classical rather than romantic matrix, its condition of ideal equilibrium as a snapshot of a happy condition – rather than the torment that originates from the mutability of the soul – then we can guess how the nature of the places may have deeply affected the intellect of this artistic aristocracy.
It’s indeed noticeable the cogent relationship between the sacred and profane figures of paintings by Piero della Francesca, Raffaello Sanzio and Luca Signorelli with the recognizable forms of the Umbrian and Tuscan countryside where these Renaissance views have become an essential and normative part of the works themselves. Spirit and matter, the conditions of the spirit and the topos of place, are unique and absolutely inseparable and speak of the harmony of thought and nature in the location in the world of these great minds. First of all, they seem to say: “We are here!”, Clothing their works and doings with precise aesthetic coordinates as the hic et nunc of their essence.
Recommended Listening: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra n.1, Niccolò Paganini