Martelli Saint John (details), ca. 1440-1457, Settignano and Donatello
Looking at sculpture in art books does you no divine favours but sculpture in the round is the only way to comprehend the work. The inner geometrical structures of the face, for example, can only be appreciated with an extreme knowledge of form or a contemplation of the third dimension. Stone seemed to be the preferred medium of Settignano and is also deeply profound in relief. The third dimension is difficult to understand as being incomprehensible or infinite but the dimension it holds in space depends on your relationship to God and infinity. The cross feels evident as an element when looking at the head of Martelli Saint John, almost as an internal structure. The inner geometry of form is perhaps something very rarely thought about these days but was common knowledge and a part of your learning and ascension philosophy in Renaissance Italy. The understanding of a tree, for example, equalled God through a complex system of believing. Often the Virgin Mary was sighted in trees by those who believed and prayed for a miracle. One feels that the fleece of Saint John had a very special and sacred purpose for those secular people of the Christian faith that was prevalent of the day. Even though the current staff feels like a late edition to the Settignano and Donatello sculpture, it is not offensive. The "V" of the fleece covering Martelli Saint John is significant, reminding us of the valley and the mountain equation or ascending the shepherd to heaven.