Orvieto – The wine of the Popes
Orvieto is a fabulous place, sitting on a volcanic plug jutting out of the earth. The angle featured here shows the sight from the northwest, up in the hills beyond the town walls where the views are spectacular.
Map of Orvieto
There are a number of towers, steeples and domes littering the skyline but the crowning glory has to be the marble striped cathedral, which dominates the horizon. With the Luca Signorelli frescoes inside this place is well worth a visit.
Although it’s the middle of summer now, we are experiencing some pretty spectacular stormy skies. So I decided that the painting should echo the weather of the day and have gone for a brilliant pink, purple and orange combination. You’ve never lived if you haven’t seen a colourblind person’s stormy sky, grey day indeed.
I thought it would be fun to really play around with the colours in the cliff face. At times, when shaded, it has a steely blue look but when the sun strikes it, there are all manner of reds, oranges and yellows. Then I decided to work my way around the colour wheel from one to the other, filling in the centre with some green trees.
The hills around Orvieto are populated with olive groves and vineyards, all contributing to the town’s famous pale, yellow wine and peppery oil, which was once favoured by Rome’s popes and princes.
Posted in landscape, Painting, watercolour
Tagged art, duomo, Italy, Orvieto, painting, Signorelli, Umbria, watercolor, watercolour, wine
I’m working on a painting of Orvieto in the southern part of Umbria. This ancient town stands on top of a tuff outcrop, which are the remains of a long extinct volcano. This already dramatic sight is made all the more so by the magnificent duomo that proudly highlights the town.
They started erecting the cathedral in 1290 and it features frescoes by Fra Angelica and Luca Signorelli‘s masterpiece, “The Last Judgement”, painted around 1449.
For this Signorelli was paid 800 ducats, lodgings and two measures of wine each month. Now I like that idea, especially as Orvieto is famous for its pale yellow wine, favoured by popes and princes alike.
The soft tuffa rock beneath Orvieto, makes tunnelling easy and along with a 65 metre well there are numerous caverns, rooms and secret passage ways. These are also prone to collapsing and from time to time there are the odd landslides . Lets hope the erosion doesn’t cause the same fate as nearby Civita di Bagnoregio, which these days is all but abandoned.
The painting shows off the town’s sheer cliff face with its ramps and walls with the sprawling collection of woodland, olive groves and of course vineyards around the base. We’ve had a couple of days of impressive, stormy weather recently, so the sky will most likely reflect this. Lots of orange, yellow and pinks with rays of light piercing the scene.
Torgiano – Watercolour and ink, 45cm x 27cm (For Sale)
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of being invited to exhibit at the ArtinPiazza show in Collazzone. The Torgiano painting was meant to be a part of the body of work I took along but time conspired against me and I didn’t get it finished in time.
Oh well! it’s ready now. Torgiano is a beautiful little town, perched high up on a hill and surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. The area is famous for its DOC wine and delicious oil and there are museums dedicated to both in the centro storico.
The beautiful little town is pictured from the valley below with its vineyards in the foreground. As f Simone Martini’s work can be seen, just up the road in the Basillica San Francesco in Assisi, the two large trees are stylised representations of his work.
The two iconic points of the village are its thirteenth century, Torre di Guardia and the Church of St Bartholomew. The luscious, countryside is typically Umbrian with swathes of trees all around, distant villages and towns on the nearby hills. It is also not far from Deruta, famous for Majolica pottery.