Pisa Pulpit: ‘Judge by the correct law!’
It is now over seven hundred years since the Italian Gothic sculptor Giovanni Pisano set chisel to stone. Though long regarded as his masterpiece, the Pisa Pulpit fell out of favour in the 20th century.
The rise of photography had given a new generation of historians outside of Italy access to the work, but photos failed to convey the pulpit's complexity. Basing their opinions on two-dimensional reproductions, critics thought the carvings to be distorted and the narrative scenes grossly cluttered.
Art Historian Jules Lubbock examines a plaster cast of the pulpit in the Victoria and Albert Museum's collections and argues that it was the critics who were ill-judged. As an inscription on the pulpit implores: 'You who marvel, judge by the correct law!'
Jules Lubbock is a retired professor of art history at the University of Essex where he taught for around 40 years. He is interested in the art and architecture of Renaissance Italy before 1500. He was the New Statesman's critic on design, architecture and planning during the 1980s and also wrote a couple of influential speeches for the Prince of Wales.
His books are:- Architecture, Art or Profession?: Three Hundred Years of Architectural Education in Britain, with Mark Crinson (1994); The Tyranny of Taste The Politics of Architecture and Design in Britain, 1550-1960 (1995); Storytelling in Christian Art from Giotto to Donatello (2006).
He is currently working on a short book about the frescoes of Good and Bad Government of 1338 by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the Sala della Pace in Siena's Palazzo Pubblico. He enjoys scouring charity shops and junk shops for 18^th^ century English glass, slipware pottery and replicas of renaissance sculpture. He likes to holiday on islands with unfrequented sand dunes.
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