(b. ca. 1450, Cortona, d. 1523, Cortona)
Resurrection of the Flesh1499-1502
Fresco, width 700 cm
Chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto
This fresco is located in the first compartment on the right wall.
The account of the Apocalypse then continues with three large scenes, the Resurrection of the Flesh, the Damned and the Elect, and two smaller ones on either side of the chapel's window, Paradise and Hell.
It is primarily in this section of the fresco cycle that Signorelli has given free rein to his inventive genius. An inventiveness that, as Berenson said, made him one of the greatest of modern illustrators, and thanks to which his art is still an extremely important part of our figurative heritage. Despite the rhetorical devices, the theatrical ruses and the occasional contrived details, despite the limitations in his draughtsmanship and use of colour recognized by all modern critics, there is no denying that never before in Italian art had figurative ideas of such unforgettable power been used. Viewed all together the huge frescoes in the Orvieto chapel give an impression of overcrowding and of confusion which is far from pleasing. We have to isolate the individual details in order to grasp the greatness of Signorelli the 'illustrator' and the 'inventor' and therefore justify Berenson's statement. See, for example, in the Resurrection of the Flesh, the macabre but hilarious idea of the nude with his back to the observer who is carrying on a conversation with the skeletons; or the skulls surfacing through the cracks in the ground, who put on their bodies as though they were a costume, and become human beings once again.