The seven Liberal Arts in the Pulpit of Pisa’s Cathedral

Giovanni Pisano, Pulpito del Duomo di Pisa, Sette arti liberali

Retorica

In the crowd of figures in the Pulpit in Pisa’s Cathedral – a masterpiece by sculptor Giovanni Pisano (1248-1315) – the ones decorating the octagonal base of the central column are meant to personify Philosophy and the seven Liberal Arts.

In the Middle Ages, the latter were divided in Trivium (Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric) and Quadrivium (Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy), and were seen as exclusively intellectual, creative activities in contrast to Mechanical Arts, which could be explored through manual skills.

Within the context of the Pulpit’s iconology, medievalist Chiara Frugoni has explained these figures should be interpreted “according to the work’s Marian plan, as qualities of the Virgin Mary”.

Here are their close-ups.

August 6, 2014

The seven Liberal Arts in the Pulpit of Pisa’s Cathedral

Pisa, Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral
Piazza del Duomo