MICHELE DA FIRENZE
(active c. 1404-1443)

Scenes from the Life of Christ

1430s
Terracotta
Pellegrini Chapel, Sant'Anastasia, Verona

The walls of the Pellegrini Chapel in Sant'Anastasia, Verona are lined with twenty-four terracotta reliefs by Michele da Firenze. In this chapel Pisanello painted a fresco of St George and the Princess. Pisanello and Michele probably collaborated on the reliefs, which are typical of multi-media decorative complexes in this period. Beside providing the fresco for the entrance to the chapel, the painter may have participated in polychroming the relief sculpture.

The reliefs narrate mainly events from the Passion and Resurrection. They also include a few scenes from the early life of Christ such as the Adoration of the Magi shown in this picture. The painter added to the scene charming, almost naive detail quickly modelled in the terracotta: a parade of the Magi and their entourage among the hills at the upper right; lilies, ferns, and flowers growing as large as and larger than the trees; and an angel and eight-pointed star above a thatched shed sheltering the obligatory ox and ass. Diversity and complexity here take precedence over dramatic unity and coherence.