The Month of May

The Month of May, latest 1407, possibly by Maestro Venceslao, Fresco, Torre Aquila, Castello del Buonconsiglio in Trento, Italy

“Fresh new rose Delighting Spring,    By field and stream,    Singing gaily,    I declare your rarity    – to the flowers.” by Guido Cavalcanti (between 1250 and 1259 – August 1300), the Italian poet, troubadour, and best friend of Dante Alighieri. https://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Italian/Italianpoetry.php

The Month of May fresco comes from the 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. It was commissioned by Prince-Bishop George of Liechtenstein, who wanted to show life and prosperity in his “well-governed” territories. The painter of these remarkable frescoes, Master Wenceslas, understanding well what he was commissioned to do, created the best 15th-century advertising brochure for the Alpine city of Trento. The Month of May presents a bright spring scene, crowded with well-dressed aristocrats who, in the lush local countryside, serenely enjoy the splendours of their privileged life. 

Master Wenceslas, a Bohemian painter active in Trento since 1397, creates an amazing May scene, full of natural beauty… the sun triumphs, nature is in full bloom, and roses are present wherever you see! This is the time for Trento peasants to rest after a busy April, preparing and sowing the fields, repairing or rebuilding the fences of the vegetable gardens.  Their duties accomplished by April 23, the feast of San Giorgio, as the custom dictates, they are out of the “picture.” The Month of May scene is dedicated to the local ladies and gentlemen and their idle aristocratic activities.

Master Wenceslas paints a striking May scene introducing themes and focusing on details. A city on the upper left side of the panel, surrounded by bright red walls sets the tone… bright, elaborate, almost otherworldly. The white Gothic church within its Walls balances the effect and stands out, introducing one of the four main colours present in the composition, white, red, green and blue. Next to the walled city but connected with it through a bridge, two aristocratic couples are about to eat al fresco, as a circular white-clothed table displays an abundance of delicacies. What an amazing and luxurious “picnic” setting this is… rugged mountains, a deep dark green forest, and a well-constructed fountain of spring water! They sit comfortably and talk amicably around the table, dressed in their brightest and finest, while one of the ladies is about to fetch water from the spring. Is this vignette a reference to the Fountain of Youth, which, according to legend, could renew beauty and youth for eternity?

The lower part of the composition is entirely devoted to the pleasures and amusements of courtly society. In a lush meadow filled with roses and wildflowers, gracious gentlemen and beautiful ladies gather, mostly in pairs, to celebrate spring and the month of love! A young man kneels, in an act of homage, in front of his lady, another bends his forehead to be crowned with a wreath of flowers, and couples talk intimately or hold hands, lovingly. They wear their finest multicoloured garments, jewelled crowns or wreaths of flowers. Men wear tight-fitting jackets with coloured socks, or large cloaks with frayed edges, women are dressed in tight-fitting overcoats. The most fashion-conscious wear the long-toed shoes that are furious in France. The Trento scene of May is cheerful, sunny, elegant and optimistic! http://italianocontesti.ru/il-calendario-medievale-torre-aquila-a-trento-maggio/ and https://www.discovertrento.it/en/citta-di-trento/eventi/dettaglio/-/dettaglio/Torre+Aquila-Buonconsiglio+Castle/569149#.Xqui86gzZPZ

For a PowerPoint, please… check HERE!

Tags: No tags

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *