A representation of hell in Italian medieval art   104834
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Location: Firenze (Battistero di San Giovanni)      by: Giuseppe Marzulli
Area: Italy      Date: November 2013
This is a representation of Satan contained inside the Baptistery of Florence. It is a mosaic. It dates back to 1260-70 and is the work of Coppo di Marcovaldo. The mosaic is not seen in the pano 16347, but you can guess the location (label "inferno", at the bottom).

The representation of Hell is dominated by the great horned Satan, on a throne inflamed, nibbling a man, while two snakes come out of the ears, engulfing other damned. Monsters in the shape of a snake, frog or lizard come out from his body and rage on the damned.
Other damned are thrown into pits, or hanged, mutilated, burned on a spit, beaten or forced to drink molten gold; a group of damned is engulfed in flames.

Do not worry, tomorrow I take it out :-).
But, if it does not disturb anyone, I leave it.


Un Marcovaldo quasi Arcimboldo!
2014/10/14 00:29 , Pedrotti Alberto
Why should you take it out? There are also some panos of murals on this page. Why not to add an medieval mural? It has more the less the same cultural meaning ...
2014/10/14 08:10 , Christoph Seger
... con qualche anticipazione di Bosch 
Potente iconografia medioevale. Ricorda anche qualche riquadro del coevo Giudizio Universale dentro la Basilica di Torcello. Lì Bisanzio, qui romanico - comunque straordinario.
Ciao, Alvise
2014/10/14 08:44 , Alvise Bonaldo
Thanks for the comments. In reality this is not just a curiosity, but is a very important mosaic for several reasons.

1) It is one of the most famous medieval representations of Satan and hell. Now that we are in the era of Internet, these images may seem naive. Internet has accustomed us to worst images.
But in the Middle Ages these images in churches had a precise meaning and were not rare. They were warnings to the faithful. The "sinners" could see the fate that awaited them...

2) Also from the artistic point of view, is a mosaic important. The design was made by Coppo di Marcovaldo, a Florentine painter, whose fusion of both the Italian and Byzantine styles had great influence on generations of Italian artists.
The workers were probably instead Venetian. Some details of the mosaic are similar to those of San Marco in Venice. And in the Basilica of Torcello (Venice), there is another significant representation of Satan.

3) Dante, the greatest Italian poet, was baptized in this Baptistery and often frequented. These images may have inspired Dante's Inferno.
2014/10/14 21:31 , Giuseppe Marzulli
A very early premonition from Hieronymus Bosch...?!
Greetings Wolfgang
2014/10/30 22:43 , Wolfgang Bremer
Hello Wolfgang. It seems to me indisputable that there are similarities between this work and the paintings of Bosch. But I think that in the works of Bosch there is an ironic component, which in this mosaic is absent.
2014/10/31 00:48 , Giuseppe Marzulli
Hello Guiseppe, you have right; perhaps the More in the works of Hironymus Bosch could come out of a combination of general progress in society and his enormous individuality.
Greetings Wolfgang
2014/10/31 23:24 , Wolfgang Bremer
I was admiring this piece in particular. I cannot find a better representation of this particular mosaic anywhere online. I was wondering if I could e-mail you personally about acquiring a copy of the image to have printed for my private use. I am in the United States and cannot easily get to Florence to see it with my own eyes. Thank you very much for posting it!
2016/02/17 08:30 , Galen Stevenson
Hello Galen. I saw your message just now. I would gladly give you free copy of the photograph of this mosaic, but I do not know your email. If you tell me your email, I send it to you willingly.
2016/05/27 23:08 , Giuseppe Marzulli
I see it’s been a few years since anyone’s commented here, was looking for a copy of this for a project I’m doing, i saw you said you would send someone else a copy, I’d even pay you for it, if you would my email is Keenan.farago@gmail.com if whenever you see that just message me about it, it would be awesome
2021/11/24 05:34 , Keenan Farago

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Giuseppe Marzulli

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