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Lucca (prov.)

Piazza San Michele
(Chiesa di San Michele in Foro)

San Michele e 35 protomi di figure storiche

Saint Michael and 35 protomes of historical figures

St. Michael
Archangel, the field commander of the Army of God. He is often depicted slaying Satan represented as a dragon, and with a shield with text quis ut deus (Who is like God?, a literal translation of the name Michael).

19th century?

Lucca /  San Michele e 35 protomi di figure storiche   Lucca /  San Michele e 35 protomi di figure storiche


The façade of the Chiesa di San Michele in Foro is from the 13th century, and has a large series of sculptures and inlays, numerous of which remade in the 19th century. On the summit, flanked by two other angels, is the 4 m-tall marble statue of St. Michael the Archangel with metal wings. According to a legend, an angel's finger would have a huge diamond.

Lucca - San Michele e 35 protomi di figure storiche
St. Michael
Lucca - San Michele e 35 protomi di figure storiche

At the top of the columns of the four loggias are marble protomes (frontal views of human heads), which were very damaged and mostly not recognizable. From 1864-66 the sculptor Giampaoli replaced those ruined protomes with new ones, some of which are remakes that 'when well observed seemed to be portraits of historical subjects of the Middle Ages, with particular reference to the crusades.

From the fifth to the thirteenth columns, of the lowest loggia there are six male heads considered to be: 1. Richard Lionheart, 2. Godfried of Bouillon, 3. Charlemagne, 4. Enrico Dandolo, 5. Tancredi, 6. Pietro the hermit, and two Feminine protomes, 7. one with a crown, possibly depicting Matilde of Canossa, and the other 8. of Ettruda, the emperor of the monastery in the Lombard period (the heads on columns 1-4 and 14 and 15 seem to be no historical figures.
For the three the upper loggias it was not clear which portraits had been there, so the example of the ancients are followed and were added the heads of men who contributed to the advancement of the social and national progress up to the 19th century.
On the second level, apart from the alleged Anselmo da Baggio, Desiderio and Austrifonso, respectively bishop, longobard and deacon king, whose faces were derived from 'ancient heads', stand out portraits of the characters of the Risorgimento, such as Carlo Alberto, Vittorio Emanuele II, Bettino Ricasoli, Cavour, Napoleon III, and Pope Pius IX; To these, were added those of Castruccio Castracani, Dante and Napoleon I. The head of the sibilla Eritrea, which presided over the birth of Christ, dominates the central column.
At the ends of the third loggetta, the remodeling of the hypothetical protomes of the French king Louis VII, who participated in the crusades, and of St. Paolino, appear, followed by those of Gutenberg, Christopher Columbus (central column), Galileo Galilei, the English writer Thomas Fuller and Alessandro Volta.
Lucca - San Michele e 35 protomi di figure storiche
Lucca - San Michele e 35 protomi di figure storiche
On the top floor, Saints Bonaventure, Bernard, Ambrose, Augustine, Thomas, Thérèse and Catherine are shown.

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Locatie (N 43°50'35" - E 10°30'8")

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Item Code: itto147; Photograph: 16 May 2017

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