Dionisio Mazzuoli da scalpellino ad architetto, e il restauro in stile “goto” della facciata meridionale del Duomo di Siena (con un'aggiunta al catalogo di Nicola Pisano)

A comprehensive study of the figure of Dionisio Mazzuoli, founder of one of the workshops that profoundly influenced Sienese sculpture in the course of the second half of the 17th century, has emerged from an analysis of numerous archive documents and historiographic sources. This has resulted in a reappraisal of what has often been considered his marginal and subordinate role as a father of more important artists.
We learn that Mazzuoli was operative on various Sienese construction sites, being active above all as 'fattore', or foreman, and subsequently as 'capomaestro' of the Opera Metropolitana through those flourishing decades that saw radical modifications made to the interior and exterior of the cathedral. This was done on the initiative of the rector Lodovico de' Vecchi and with the decisive contribution, not merely in financial terms, of Pope Alexander VII. Mazzuoli's responsibilities in these circumstances, together with his previous activity in the city, documented from at least 1645, enabled him to enter into contact with the leading artists of the period, Sienese and non, and with some of the families who would later be patrons of his sons. It was almost certainly this network of acquaintances that made possible the journey and sojourn in Rome of his son Giuseppe. It would be a mistake to neglect Mazzuoli's cultural importance, which undoubtedly had a significant influence on the early education of his children. Although going down in history as a 'scarpellino”, the executor of projects drawn up by architects of considerable reputation, on several occasions Mazzuoli proved that he possessed independent skills as an inventor. Between 1650 and 1652, for example, he designed the two altars in the south transept of Siena cathedral, and even competed for the project of the cathedral's lantern, submitting his own designs alongside those of Lodovico de' Vecchi, Benedetto Giovannelli Orlandi and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Particular attention has been focused on the responsibility assumed by Mazzuoli within the project for the “modern” rearrangement of the entire Piazza del Duomo to designs by the architect Giovanelli. This operation would involve the remaking of the southern flank of the cathedral, new flooring, the redesigning of the northern area destined to house the new archbishopric, and lastly the realization of a new entrance to the piazza through the “Strada Nuova”. The study has focused in particular on an analysis of the renovation of the flank of the cathedral, which contemplated the opening of eight blind windows to be made in harmony with the rest of the church, adhering to the Gothic style. In these eight openings Mazzuoli reused earlier sculptural elements referrable to the Gothic period, thus demonstrating a profound sensitivity to stylistic conformity. Among these pieces, and probably taken from the deposits of the Opera, there emerged a 'Woman's Head' which we would attribute to the hand of Nicola Pisano and relate chronologically to the group of 'mensole' and 'teste-capitello' inserted in the three-light window of the drum of the cupola inside the cathedral.


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