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The Original Programme of the David Cycle on the Doors of San Ambrogio in Milan

Teresa Mroczko
Artibus et Historiae
Vol. 3, No. 6 (1982), pp. 75-87
Published by: IRSA s.c.
DOI: 10.2307/1483205
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1483205
Page Count: 13
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The Original Programme of the David Cycle on the Doors of San Ambrogio in Milan
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Abstract

The article is a reconstruction of the David cycle on the wooden doors from the end of the fourth century in the Chiesa di S. Ambrogio in Milan. The work is based on the two extant original panels [1st Book of Samuel XVI, 10 and XVII, 34-35 as well as XVI, 11 and XVI, 13] and five drawings from the mid-18 th century in Museo Sacro della Basilica Ambrosiana, as well as copies from 1751 in the present doors. The first drawing [XVI, 23 and XVII, 31; XVII, 32-33 and XVII, 38, as well as XVII, 51] portray the no longer extant originals. The fifth drawing [XVII, 40] is a pendant to scene XVII, 51, which proves that there were also other panels below on the 4th century doors. The copy with scene XVI, 19 can therefore be included in the original cycle. Its no longer extant pendant may have illustrated verses XVI, 14-18 or XVI, 20-22. The logic of the composition requires that two more panels from 1751 [XVII, 55-56 and XVII, 57 as well as XVIII, 6 or XVIII, 27 and XIX, 1] be included in the original. The fourth century cycle would therefore be composed of sixteen scenes. It is the direct continuation of the Itala fragment from Quedlinburg. The problem of the archetype is also taken into account [the pictorial unity of the Ciprian treasure, the Khludow Psalter and the Paris Psalter as well as the ideological sense of the cycle based on the exegesis of Hippolytus of Rome (David-Christ)]. Formally connected with early Christian sarcophagi, the cycle symbolically portrayed the victory of Christ over sin and death, much like the decoration of the doors of Christ's Tomb on the plaques at the British Museum and Castello Sforzesco.

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