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Art as witness of reality
 

Notwithstanding religious authorities prescriptions and influence on painters and sculptors works, these artists took charge of educating pilgrims with the realization of holy scenes within chapels and were able to show their artistic genius even by reproducing local culture and tradition.

Thanks to characters, places and objects they reproduced an elaborated reality which was immediately able to sollicitate watchers’ fancy; this happened just because this reality was proposed and represented giving hints from imaginated and idealized far places, where historical actions had happened, and from the dearest and recognizable ones of contemporary domestic environments.

At that age, the above-mentioned commistion was surely a right expressive mean to change historical facts, happened in such far places, into didascalic examples, but also a way to involve pilgrims emotionally: these, recognizing their everyday environments, felt themselves like active players of the represented scenes.

Nowadays, statues with their clothes and wigs, furnitures, animals and objects used by characters represented within Sacred Mounts’ chapels are extraordinary documents of that historical reality. In fact, even if made with different scenic settings or artists tecniques and materials, clothes, shoes and accessories worn by statues, are often faithful reproductions of that age fashions and styles.

Faces, attitudes, expressions, gestures and even diseases are sort of real pictures telling the main characteristics of local inhabitants, just because these had been the models that Sacred Mounts’ artists had at their disposal. In the same way, crockery, horses harnesses, tools, musical instruments, weapons and furnishings of any kind allow us to open a virtual window on the story and to watch at that age costumes and life conditions.

If these detailed reality’s representations truly helped the psycological identification process of that age men, for today’s observers all these details coming from painters and sculptors imagination are sometimes rare documents of the tecnique evolution but also still useful way to know uses and costumes of the original audience of the religious message.



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Excerpts from:
F. Fontana, R. Lodari, P. Sorrenti, Luoghi e vie di pellegrinaggio. I Sacri Monti del Piemonte e della Lombardia , 2004, published by Centro di Documentazione dei Sacri Monti, Calvari e Complessi devozionali europei.

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