OPTICC 3: Fire in Borgo

This painting depicts the scene of the chaos during a fire in the Renaissance. The far left of the painting shows the origin of the chaos, only revealing a small scene of the fire, mostly covered by a large wall that people are climbing over to escape the fire, focusing the attention of the audience on the varying characters. Citizens are running around in colorful robes, there are people fetching water, mothers herding their children, and people helping strangers out of the fire, with pillars and powerful buildings in the background.

The intricately carved and designed arch that the whole scene takes place under seems to be of importance to the time period, the meaning or the artist. Each character seems to hold a lot of importance when focused upon; A strong man with minimal robes is carrying a skinny, sickly looking man with a red hat on. There is also a strong looking and gleamingly white man climbing down the wall, clearly escaping from the fire. Through observing other characters in the painting, the audience can assume that the artist is implying people in the fire were mostly wearing white robes which were mostly burned off, and the other citizens are wearing very colorful robes. The people are also very realistically depicted, a consistent development in art during the Renaissance, due to advances in knowledge of human anatomy.

The title is, “Fire in Borgo.” The title implies that this painting portrays a significant event, and that people at the time most likely knew about this fire to appreciate the artistic depiction of it. This title also confirms that the meaning of the painting is literally about a fire that happened and the chaos that followed. Whereas without this title, it could be interpreted as a metaphor for political fragmentation, social destruction, or another cause for chaos.

Historical background research has revealed that this painting was painted for the sole purpose of being one of the many paintings on the walls of a dining room for the Pope. The paintings on these walls all told stories taken from the lives of two previous Popes. One of which, Leo IV, heroically extinguished this fire, saving the citizens and the church.

With that background, the meaning is more easily interpreted. This painting was made to honor Leo IV as a previous Pope in an artistically beautiful and meaningful painting. Perhaps a deeper meaning is that this event is a metaphor for multiple instances in which Leo IV- or more broadly, the Popes of the Renaissance- saved the people and the church from disasters.

This is important to what we are learning right now because it shows how valued the Popes were during the Renaissance. “Fire in Borgo,” is a great representation of the artistic skill and development of the Renaissance, with more realistic human depictions and direct meanings. It could be interpreted to honor a specific Pope for a specific event, or it could represent the Popes of the Renaissance acting as a healing force for the church and its people.

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6 thoughts on “OPTICC 3: Fire in Borgo

  1. Your writing was really clear, and you brought interesting points to light in terms of what the painting represented at this time in history. However, you failed to notice the writing “Leo PP IIII” on a building in the background, and the Pope was actually standing on the balcony of that very same building. This provides evidence for the historical background that you gave for the painting. Your context writing could also have been slightly more thorough, because it didn’t go that much into detail about specific artistic achievements of the period. Although, I liked how you included bits of unique trivia like when you mentioned that the painting hung in the Pope’s dining room. Maybe just include more general facts about the time period.

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  2. Ally – Your writing was super clear and you explained all of your thinking really well. I like how you focused on not only specific people, but the message the whole group is portraying in society. Your information on the pope and his successors show that you went above and beyond with your research while simultaneously making educated inferences.

    I think your art piece reflects a typical lifestyle of this period and region. I think that because you did your OPTICC on this piece, you cemented knowledge you already knew while gaining more information on certain aspects of European culture during the renaissance.

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  3. This OPTICC is the best report I’ve read so far of yours, and of our peers. Your analysis was very helpful, you even taught me more information as of right now. In particular I never really thought about how important popes were on a day to day basis during the Renaissance, but your elaboration on that was very interesting. You touched the topic of artistic improvements during this time period but I think you should have elaborated more in the Context paragraph, because most of the context was about the popes role in Europe during this time.

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  4. You chose a meaningful piece of art that you did a successful job explaining it. When I talked to you, you said that you were pretty sure that this piece would increase your peers knowledge, and I can confirm that, as I mentioned in the comment before. You described to me that it did not take you a very long time to pick this piece, so in that area you could improve, but even with a quick decision you got lucky by choosing a very good piece that does justice to the time period.

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  5. The meaning of my piece is straightforward and significant in my OPTICC, but I could have elaborated more on the individual meanings of the different people depicted in the painting. I also should go into more detail about the significance of Pope Leo IV and the other popes during this time period, and why they are relevant to this piece. Overall, I had a lot of useful information to help substantiate the meaning of this painting.

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  6. As far as the selection process, I definitely should have spent more time on this before starting my critique. I am glad that I ended up with this piece, because now it is now meaningful to my understanding of the Renaissance. However, I chose this painting in a rush, and perhaps I could have chosen a more interesting or unique piece with more time spent on the selection.

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