The old Chapter House-cum-convent has been transformed into a storehouse for sculptures, paintings, and other works from the ecclesiastical buildings on Piazza del Duomo. Room 1 has models of the Duomo buildings and engraved glass plans showing the square's history and geometry. Room 3 has delicate 12th-century carvings and intarsia marble decoration displaying a strong Moorish influence and a massive 12th-century wooden crucifix from Burgundy, with a Christ styled so medievally naive that it looks like modern art. But the main attraction is the Islamic 11th-century bronze griffin, war booty from the Crusades, which long decorated the Duomo's cupola before it was replaced by a copy.
Room 6 contains curving ranks of faded-to-facelessness 13th-century Giovanni Pisano statues from the baptistery. The treasury has two Pisanos: a wooden crucifix and a swaybacked Madonna col Bambino he carved from a curving ivory tusk (1299). Also here is a precious Pisan relic, the cross that led Pisans on the First Crusade.
The last few rooms house the precious legacy of Carlo Lasinio, who restored the Camposanto frescoes in the early 19th century and, fortunately for posterity, made a series of etchings of each fresco, the prints from which were colored by his son. Not only did the original publication of these prints have an important influence on the developing pre-Raphaelite movement at the time, but they're the best record we have of the paintings that went up in flames when the Camposanto was bombed in 1944.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Recommended 2010