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Title Pavia, San Michele, interior, study of capital and plan
Collection Charles Rennie Mackintosh´s Northern Italian Sketchbook: Glasgow School of Art
Artist Mackintosh, Charles Rennie

The drawing (top) may represent a capital in the interior of the twelfth century Romanesque basilica. (Much of the interior was inaccessible in 2004 when this research was undertaken.) Alternatively Mackintosh may have made his sketch from a frieze on one of the three doors on the west front. Yet, although it bears a fairly close similarity to some of these, it is not identical: the sculpture has been executed in soft sandstone which weathers easily and has possibly been renewed to a different design. Mackintosh has typically chosen to depict botanically-derived ornament rather than working from anthropomorphic or zoomorphic forms in which the church also abounds.

The plan (bottom) indicates San Michele's early adoption of groin vaulting, its wide nave and transepts. The church was much admired by nineteenth century writers on architecture, James Fergusson describing it as ‘one of the most interesting of its age' presenting ‘in itself all the characteristics of a perfect round-arched Gothic church'; adding ‘indeed there is hardly a feature worth mentioning which was invented after this date except the pointed arch – a very doubtful improvement …' ( James Fergusson, ‘A history of Architecture in all countries'…vol II (London: John Murray, 1874) pp. 303-4).

Mackintosh himself described San Michele as a ‘beautiful old church, certainly the best of its kind in Italy.' (‘A Tour in Italy', p. 124) Along with Sant' Ambrogio in Milan, its nave is a possible source for the hall of Mackintosh's unbuilt 1892 competition design for Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery.

Page Number 74
Inscription Inscribed ‘S. MICHELE/PAVIA’ and ‘PLAN S. MICHELE’, pencil
Location Pavia
Subject Pavia; churches; plans (drawings); interior; capitals (column components); reliefs (sculpture); Gothic (medieval); Churches (interiors); ornament
Measurements 230x160mm.
Rights Glasgow School of Art



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