The medieval lauda


‘An instrument for collective prayer which later became an independent literary genre, the medieval lauda has always aroused a great interest. This exhibition proposes to trace its origin and development. The 12th century was characterised by the desire to reaffirm Christ as approachable and relevant to every moment of life. This is demonstrated by the renewed interest for the Holy Places, which culminated in the phenomenon of the Crusades, as well as the emphasis given to the Passion of Christ and the Life of the Virgin in a variety of devotional forms. In the 13th century these issues found a wide response in the mendicant orders, especially among the Franciscans and the Dominicans, as well as in other religious movements. The practice of collective prayer contributed to the development and spread of the lauda. After a first section illustrating the historical and religious context of the time, the exhibition shows the forms and contents typical of the lauda: the most moving episodes from the gospels, some particularly uplifting stories from the lives of the saints, the popularisation of psalms and hymns. Also liturgical festivities such as the Corpus Domini and the Ascension were used as subject-matter of the lauda, which had the function to help remember certain events and acknowledge them in the present day. The exhibition gives special attention to Jacopone of Todi: besides the usual themes, his strongly idiosyncratic ‘laudario’ contains autobiographical episodes and comments on contemporary events and people. Its artistic quality highlights an unusually deep spirituality at a theological as well as personal level. The first example of dramatic lauda, ‘Donna de Paradiso’ may be traced back to Jacopone: here the power of self-identification reaches an openly theatrical dimension loaded with an evocative longing. After Jacopone, the exhibition illustrates the development of the lauda until the 14th century, stressing the contribution of the local tradition on one hand, and the progressive reduction of the lauda to mere literary genre on the other. The texts of the laudi are accompanied by a rich iconographical commentary to show the affinity between literature and the figurative arts from the 12th to the 14th century. Some of the best-loved lauda subjects, such as the relationship between Christ and the Virgin or the Way of the Cross are also developed in contemporary painting and sculpture with a similar spirit of self-identification. Giotto’s frescoes and Giovanni Pisano’s reliefs display the same intense humanity and affection found in the laudi.’


24 Agosto 1997 - 30 Agosto 1997


Exhibitions Meeting Exhibitions