A window on time
The work is a tribute to Arezzo and to the painting of Piero della Francesca. The element of the chessboard retains a great evocative and symbolic force. The chessboard in art represents the mathematics, philosophy, poetry and painting of the Renaissance where everything was constructed in a strictly geometric way. The lady painted in Renaissance clothes supports and embraces Arezzo immersed in a white space as if almost pushed by a massive explosion of pure energy. The Arezzo painted by Giotto appears to the viewers as a real heavenly Jerusalem "like a very precious gem, like a stone of crystalline jasper".
The peculiarity of this painting by Silvia Salvadori lies in the use of precious gems (sapphire, emerald, amber, coral, lapis lazuli, rock crystal, ruby and pearls), the same ones described in John's Apocalypse and set directly on the golden surface. Remarkable is the rendering of the effects of light and shadow expertly recreated by Silvia in the drapery of the finely embroidered and engraved fabric on pure gold. Every detail of the painting is intended to be a tribute to medieval goldsmiths and the millenary goldsmith tradition of Arezzo. The figure is defined through a delicate linear outline. Rhythmic and flowing curves make the drapery light and elegant. Finally, the stylistic decorativism typical of medieval and early Renaissance painting is also found in the natural details such as the leaves and in the fruit of the pomegranate.
The Lady with the Chessboard was entirely made by carefully following each step described in Cennino Cennini's Book of Art. The gilding is also done with the gouache technique on gold, spread over an original Armenian bolus bed. The pigments used for the execution of the painting are all pure and original pigments. In particular, the same pigments of Piero della Francesca's palette were used for this painting. The azurite, for example, which was often used for the skies was used on the quadrants of the chessboard. The egg yolk tempera technique is distinguished from other painting techniques for the extraordinary brightness that it manages to emanate both on the complexions and on the plastic rendering of the drapery and it is for this particular aspect that it was used and handed down until the end of the 1500s.
The painting was entirely done in egg yolk tempera on a 23 carat pure gold background. The pigments used are those of Cennino Cennini and described in the Book of Art of 1370. Egg yolk tempera is an ancient and very refined technique used in the Middle Ages and the Early Renaissance. Each table executed with this particular technique is first prepared following a stratigraphic scheme. The chosen support is often poplar or lime tree obtained by vertically gluing various boards together. The glue is the original described in Cennino Cennini's art book; the strong glue obtained with “mozzature di pecorine papers”, or parchment glue known as “rabbit”. On each board a whole or striped linen cloth is glued, impregnated with glue in order to block the movements of the wood. The penultimate phase involves the priming or the drafting of several layers (about eight) of thin chalk from Bologna or Volterra (Cennino Cennini, The Book of Art). The plaster is then shaved and burin or tablet decorations are then performed on top.