Vol. XXIX – p. 33

Elena Bugini
La nature morte à sujet musical du lambris de la chapelle d’Urfé

Abstract: The inlaid wooden panels which once decorated the chapel of the Bâtie d’Urfé (now in New York, Metropolitan Museum) were created in 1547–48 at the demand of Claude d’Urfé, ambassador of the King of France to the Council of Trent (1546–49), and representative of the French crown to the Holy See (until 1551). Fra Damiano Zambelli from Bergamo, a famous Italian craftsman who belonged to the Domenican order, was in charge of executing the marquetry panels. Among the depictions found on these panels are abstract patterns, landscapes and architectural structures, still-life scenes, as well as episodes belonging to sacred history. On the context of still-life scenes, in one particularly interesting panel, Zambelli juxtaposes a lute with eleven strings and a book with two canons in perfectly legible musical notation. According to the experiences of the patron who may have had ample opportunity to study the peculiarities of the artistic medium in question when visiting inlaid monastic chorusses and studioli made during the Italian Renaissance, the musical still life was probably designed as a sort of mathematical exercise addressed to the senses as well as to the rational mind of visitors of the chapel.