Chiostro Verde, Santa Maria Novella, Florence

(Green Cloister)
   The Chiostro Verde owes its name to the frescoes painted on its walls by Paolo Uccello and assistants in a green monochrome palette with terra verde (green earth), a pigment with a high iron-oxide content. Begun in 1430, these works depict scenes from the Book of Genesis and were heavily damaged in 1966 when a major flood occurred in Florence. The frescoes are arranged in two tiers and cover the patriarchal ages of Noah, Abraham, and Isaac, emphasizing the themes of ancestry and inheritance. From among the scenes, The Deluge (c. 1450) stands out as a masterful study in perspective and foreshortening. Here, Noah's ark is shown from two angles. On the left is a heavy storm with lightning and wind-god included and victims who desperately try to stay afloat. On the right emerges Noah from the ark to see the dove return with the olive branch taken from dry land. The scene unfolds in a space that recedes rapidly in the distance. It conflates the fury of nature with the desperation of humans faced with a horrid ordeal. Uccello's Sacrifice of Noah and Drunkenness of Noah (c. 1450) also demonstrate his command of perspective. Here, God the Father is foreshortened so effectively as to appear to be floating above the other figures, and the pergola that supports the vines recedes convincingly into space.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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