Frescoes in the Oratory of San Giovanni Battista, Urbino (c. 1416)
by Lorenzo SALIMBEN

The oratory at the west edge of the city centre of Urbino was erected c. 1393. Nothing is known about the commissioning of the paintings on the walls. The unidentified patron was probably from Rome from where the Salimbeni brothers, Lorenzo and Jacopo, came to Urbino for this commission.

It is assumed that at one time the oratory was completely painted. The St John cycle, of which twelve scenes are well preserved and five survive in fragments, completely covers the long right-hand (west) wall and is presented in two registers. The cycle begins in the upper left, near the Crucifixion on the south (altar) wall, with the Annunciation to Zacharias, and continues, moving left to right, to the end of the upper register. This section presents an unusually detailed narration of the Baptist's childhood.

The Baptist's public career is presented in the lower register of the west wall. Again, the sequence begins to the right of the altar wall with his preaching to the multitudes. This is matched at the other end of the wall by his preaching to Herod on horseback.

Across the inner fašade (the north wall) the cycle utilized only the upper register, continuing from there directly into the upper register of the long eastern wall. Since the burial of the Baptist's headless corpse is already shown next to the first window, the remaining paintings of the upper register of this long wall, now destroyed, must have presented subsequent episodes.

In terms of content, form, and artistry, The Crucifixion on the altar wall is clearly the culmination of the entire series of paintings. The Salimbenis' wall painting represents the populous or expanded type of Crucifixion often designated the Mount of Calvary. Beginning in the fourteenth century, this type with its opportunities for secondary motifs, became increasingly popular.

The lower register of the east wall includes several votive pictures, separately framed but also painted on the wall, that must have been executed at roughly the same time as the cycle.

Stylistic analysis tells us that another painter was also engaged for the wall frescoes in the oratory. Antonio Alberti was responsible for the scenes from the St John cycle on the left-hand wall and on the inner fašade.

Preview Picture Data Info
View of the Oratory
c. 1416
Fresco
Oratory of San Giovanni Battista, Urbino


View of the Oratory
c. 1416
Fresco
Oratory of San Giovanni Battista, Urbino


Altar wall with the Crucifixion
c. 1416
Fresco
Oratory of San Giovanni Battista, Urbino


Crucifixion (detail)
c. 1416
Fresco
Oratory of San Giovanni Battista, Urbino


Crucifixion (detail)
c. 1416
Fresco
Oratory of San Giovanni Battista, Urbino


Crucifixion (detail)
c. 1416
Fresco
Oratory of San Giovanni Battista, Urbino


Scenes from the life of John the Baptist
c. 1416
Fresco
Oratory of San Giovanni Battista, Urbino


Scenes from the life of John the Baptist
c. 1416
Fresco
Oratory of San Giovanni Battista, Urbino


Scenes from the life of John the Baptist
c. 1416
Fresco
Oratory of San Giovanni Battista, Urbino


Scenes from the life of John the Baptist
c. 1416
Fresco
Oratory of San Giovanni Battista, Urbino


Scene from the life of John the Baptist
c. 1416
Fresco
Oratory of San Giovanni Battista, Urbino


John Preaching before Herod (detail)
c. 1416
Fresco
Oratory of San Giovanni Battista, Urbino


Baptism of the Neophytes (detail)
c. 1416
Fresco
Oratory of San Giovanni Battista, Urbino


Baptism of the Neophytes (detail)
c. 1416
Fresco
Oratory of San Giovanni Battista, Urbino


Votive pictures
c. 1416
Fresco
Oratory of San Giovanni Battista, Urbino


View of the inner fašade
c. 1416
Fresco
Oratory of San Giovanni Battista, Urbino



Paintings by Lorenzo Salimbeni
Frescoes in the Oratory of San Giovanni Battista, Urbino
Various paintings



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