St. John of Capistrano

San Giovanni di Capistrano by Buglioni

Around the time Columbus sailed the ocean blue, the Florentine sculptor Santi Buglioni was preparing to be born and enter upon those crucial six or seven years of playing in the mud so necessary to the later career of a ceramist. Around 1550 Sr. Buglioni had amassed enough skill to create this formidable lifesize statue of the formidable larger-than-lifesize Saint John of Capistrano, or San Giovanni di Capistrano as he was known back home.

Glazed terracotta is the medium chosen by the artist to depict the canonized hero of the Battle of Belgrade — and isn’t it the perfect material for a Franciscan man of action? Robes, banner, rosary, cincture and sandals are all glowing with color, but the hands and head and feet reveal the natural, matte, rugged orange-brown of the “baked earth” of Italy.

Here we see a detail of one of those hard-working hands clutching a banner while the other upraised hand rallies some 30,000 armed and ticked-off Hungarians to repel the “Hope and Change” being ushered in by the invading Islamic barbarians.

You can marvel at the actual objet at LACMA any day except Wednesday (when LACMA rests), but you’d better not delay long because Muhammedans have a nasty tendency to destroy art (and artists and art collectors and art lovers) when they are in the driver’s seat and it looks like this nation’s long-standing policy of resistance to Jihad is coming to an inglorious end.

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