A wooden horse

The wooden horse and rider in the museum at San Cassiano is not just any horse. The sculpture has been attributed to Jacopo della Quercia. He was an early Renaissance artist from Querciagrossa, near Siena. He became a resident of Lucca when his family moved there.

He was in the contest to design the Doors of Paradise at the Baptistery in Florence, but lost out to Ghiberto. One of his most famous works is the exquisite sarcophagus of Ilaria in the cathedral in  Lucca.

On a recent trip to San Cassiano I was delighted to find the museum open. It is housed in the Oratory opposite the church.

San Cassiano museum

Up close the wooden carving is beautiful. In 1909 it was found in a state of considerable neglect. It was restored in the 1920s and again in the early 1990s.

The sculpture is made up of 3 elements of linden wood. 2 elements make up most of the horse, while the bust of the saint is carved from a single block of wood.

San Cassiano museum

San Cassiano museum

San Cassiano museum

San Cassiano museum

San Cassiano museum

San Cassiano museum

San Cassiano museum

 

San Cassiano museum

Behind the horse are 2 other carvings. Both are carved from a single block of poplar wood, with the exception of some parts of the hands and the head. On the left of the altar is Archangel Gabriel and on the right The Virgin of the Annunciation.

San Cassiano museum

San Cassiano museum

The church was open on the day I visited as well.

San Cassiano church

The interior is stunning. It looks ancient.

San Cassiano church

San Cassiano church

The floor has been worn down by centuries of feet.

San Cassiano church

The villages of Bagni di Lucca are a treasure trove for those who go looking.

 

 

 

The opening of a new museum in San Cassiano

There is a new museum in San Cassiano to house the 14th century sculpture in wood of a horse and rider, identified as San Martino, by artist Jacopo dell Quercia. The sculptor is also famous for the carving of the tomb of Ilaria Guinigi in the Duomo in Lucca, and the Fontana Gaia in Siena, among other things. San Martino was known for his generosity and compassion and it is said that he cut his cloak in half and gave it to a poor freezing peasant to keep him warm in winter.

Previously the sculpture had been kept in the local church.The Chiesa Monumentale di S.Cassiano has been known since 722. The facade is from the period between 9th and 12th centuries.

At 11.30 people began to gather in front of the church for the ceremony.

The mayor of Bagni di Lucca, Dottore Massimo Betti, gave a speech about the importance of the Lima Valley. The area of San Cassiano had a population of 1800 people in the 16th century, at a time when La Villa and Ponte a Serraglio had a combined population of only 570.

After more speeches by those responsible for setting up the museum, the priest and the onlookers toasted the new museum.

Then everyone filed in to see the sculpture.

I was not at the museum opening, but Heather Jarman from Sapori-e-Saperi was, and kindly sent the photos and details of the event so we can all share it. Thank you Heather.

The new museum will be open every Saturday from 9.00 – 12.00 and 15.00 – 19.00. For information and booking at other times call: (39) 0583 809275

For a previous post on San Cassiano click here.