The Month of February fresco comes from Torre Aquila in the Castello del Buonconsiglio, in Trento, Italy. It is part of an amazing fresco Cycle of the Twelve Months painted on the walls of the tower’s 2nd-floor main room and presents the quintessential game of chivalry…
Is there among you any gentleman who for the love of his lady is willing to try with me some feat of arms? If there should be any such, here I am, quite ready to sally forth completely armed and mounted, to tilt three courses with the lance, to give three blows with the battle axe, and three strokes with the dagger. Now look, you English, if there be none among you in love. … and so Gauvain Micaille, the gallant Frenchman squire from Beauce, a gentleman of tried courage, who had advanced himself on his own merit, without any assistance from others, jousts for the honour of France showing his courage and bravery… https://uts.nipissingu.ca/muhlberger/FROISSART/GAUVAIN.HTM
The February fresco at Torre Aquila presents an impressive and festive Tournament where Jousting is the protagonist of the day. The Trento artist, maybe Maestro Venceslao, using warm tones of orange and ochre, organizes a two parts composition. The background presents Trento Ladies sitting behind an elaborate, purpose-built, parapet. They are finely dressed and adorned with elaborate headdresses, crowns, and wreaths, talking to each other, full of excitement… maybe contemplating, even debating whom they are going to favor! The Knights, fully armored and carrying their cotes-of-arm are depicted in the art of Jousting, their goal, to show gallantry and honour, their hope to attract the attention of “their” Lady and get a token of her favor… a veil, a ribbon, a wreath!
According to Wikipedia: “Jousting is a martial game or hastilude between two horsemen wielding lances with blunted tips, often as part of a tournament. The primary aim was to replicate a clash of heavy cavalry, with each participant trying hard to strike the opponent while riding towards him at high speed, breaking the lance on the opponent’s shield or jousting armor if possible, or unhorsing him. The joust became an iconic characteristic of the knight in Romantic medievalism. The participants experience close to three and a quarter times their body weight in G-forces when the lances collide with their armor.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jousting#CITEREFColtman1919
The Trento fresco for February has another interesting genre scene. In the narrow space between the room’s window and the staircase, the artist included a vignette of an older blacksmith toiling hard in his workshop. Let’s not forget this is a fresco cycle of the Labors of the Months, illustrating the activities of aristocrats and peasants, every month, throughout the year!
For a PowerPoint, please… check HERE!