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Activating the Effigy: Donatello's Pecci Tomb in Siena Cathedral

Geraldine A. Johnson
The Art Bulletin
Vol. 77, No. 3 (Sep., 1995), pp. 445-459
Published by: College Art Association
DOI: 10.2307/3046120
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3046120
Page Count: 15
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Activating the Effigy: Donatello's Pecci Tomb in Siena Cathedral
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Abstract

Donatello's floor tomb for Bishop Giovanni Pecci is analyzed in light of its contemporary beholders and the rituals associated with death and postmortem commemoration. The tomb, originally in front of Siena Cathedral's high altar, depicts in illusionistic low relief Pecci's body laid on a bier. The illusionism is best appreciated by a viewer standing at the foot of the tomb. This suggests that the intended beholder of Donatello's design was a priest officiating at the high altar. Metaphorically, such a viewer would have reenacted Pecci's funeral service or, equally appropriately, would have evoked an intercessory mass of the dead.

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