Postcard from Saluzzo, Italy: Drawn to the devil underfoot once again

As we traveled through Italy this past summer, I increasingly became drawn to the devil in the details. This one from an anonymous painting (see image below) of “The Saints” dating from 1516 is among my favorites. The cute little fellow is being crushed somewhat nonchalantly by Saint Catherine of Siena.

“The Saints” hangs in the Museo Civico Casa Cavassa. Construction of the palace was begun in the 14th century. The medieval building came into the possession of Galeazzo Cavassa in 1450 after he became the general vicar of the Marquis of Saluzzo.

His son Francesco transformed the family headquarters into a “modern” center of Renaissance art and culture. Unfortunately, Francesco fell out of favor with a new Marquis, was imprisoned and was subjected to a violent end. The art collection Francesco had assembled was plundered; although the palace remained in the family’s hands until a 1775 sale to the Marquis Emanuele Tapparelli d’Azeglio.

The Marquis Tapparelli was determined to restore Casa Cavassa to its Renaissance appearance, commissioning appropriate furnishings and beginning to fill it with art. Following his death in 1890, the restored structure was turned over to the municipality as a museum.

 

Does god really need a billboard?

Someone seriously expects us to believe god loves billboards, particularly one lording over the river?

Time for an intercession?

According to one website, the patron saint of advertising, Saint Bernadine of Sienna:

…was accustomed to preach holding a board on which were the first three letters of the Savior’s name in its Greek form–‘IHS’–surrounded by rays, and he persuaded people to copy these plaques and erect them over their dwellings and public buildings.

Oh, Saint Bernadine, what did you unleash?

Maybe we need an intervention by Panchito instead?

Note: Read about the St. Catherine of Bologna-pleasing bridge railing by George Schroeder here.

Update on June 15, 2012: Seeking a poem by Yeats I cannot remember, I came across an assemblage of tree quotations at garden digest containing the most obvious one to have included with this post:

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.

Ogden Nash, Song of the Open Road, 1933

And then this by extension:

No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself.

John Muir

Lest you think this was an attack on religion, war has broken out in San Antonio. Atheists have launched a counter-attack, mounting their own billboards along major arteries. Claiming nonbelievers are ostracized in San Antonio, the billboards invite them to “join the club.”

Two wrongs definitely do not make a right; they just make more wrong things.

Wish Lady Bird Johnson would fly up out of her grave and haunt them all.

Update on February 2, 2013: Oh, no. They are multiplying. Billboards “showing the way to God” are so abundant, they qualify for Clear Channel’s “volume discount,” according to the San Antonio Express-News.

“Upsize your life,” reads one.

Like fast-food burgers and fries, signs are among things that shouldn’t be upsized.