Jonathan Cohen

Jonathan Cohen

Posted on 05/14/2013

Photo taken on June 20, 2012

See also...


Carnegie Museum of Natural History
relief statues
Carnegie Institute
Hall of Architecture
Siena Cathedral
Nicola Pisano
Slaughter of the Innocents
Carnegie Museum
Oakland neighborhood
Forbes Avenue
United States
Massacre of the Innocents

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The Slaughter of the Innocents and the Crucifixion – Carnegie Museum, Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Slaughter of the Innocents and the Crucifixion – Carnegie Museum, Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Hall of Architecture at the Carnegie Museum of Art displays a cast of the pulpit from Siena Cathedral. The pulpit of the Siena Cathedral which was created between the fall of 1265 and the fall of 1268 is an octagonal structure that was sculpted by Nicola Pisano and his assistants. On the eight panels, there are carved reliefs that "represent a Christological cycle from the Visitation to the Last Judgment.

The Fourth Panel – which takes the central spot upon the pulpit – depicts the Massacre of the Innocents. It is the only panel that does not contain Jesus or his family. In fact it is concerned with the absence of Jesus, because it depicts King Herod’s decreeing the mass killing of the baby boys in Bethlehem to avoid the prophecy that the "King of Jews" would take his throne. This panel is a good example of Nicola’s attention to emotion and movement. The struggle between the families clutching their children and the Roman soldiers (wearing traditional roman uniform) is true classical form. None of the characters is arranged stiffly; rather they lunge, shirk and squirm which sharpens the dramatic effect.

To the right of the massacre, stands the image Jesus and the Four Evangelists. This carving introduces the next relief panel depicting the Crucifixion. In the center on the panel Jesus hangs upon the cross traditionally shown with his head falling to the side and modestly covered in a loin cloth. Surrounding Jesus is a scene of onlookers and mourners. To the left of Jesus stands the image of Mary grieving. Her stance and emotion are typical of the 13th century during which it became common to depict the Virgin as swooning. This panel is also a good example of Nicola’s understanding of depth with the foreground figures being the larger than the ones in the background.

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