Cattedrale, Porta detta della Mandorla, Detaglio di un Pilastro, Firenze
Date Made/Found: late 19th Century
Material and Medium: photograph
Dimensions: Support: 249 x 193mm
Mount: 500 x 360mm
Accession Number: CGSG03484
This photograph shows the lower part of a pilaster from the northern portal of Florence Cathedral. Carved by local sculptors and architects Nanni di Banco and Giovanni d'Ambrogio around 1412-14, the doorway takes its name from the marble relief sculpture above the doors, which depicts the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The Virgin is placed within a shape known in art historical terms as an 'aureole', an almond shape, which in Italian, translates as 'Mandorla'. The aureole is a symbol of exceptional holiness; a halo that surrounds the whole body, rather than just the figure's head.
The Ruskin Collection contains several hundred photographs of paintings and architectural details that Ruskin mentioned in his writings. William White, an early curator of the Collection collected these in the 1890s, buying them in the same way as people buy post-cards today. Many of the photographs he bought show buildings and works that have now been destroyed or changed beyond recognition.