Easter in Umbria: ‘Living Paintings’

Among the most striking manifestations of Easter in Umbraia, the ‘living pictures’ of Città della Pieve, organized by Il Terziere Borgo Dentro, are certainly worth more than a mention.

A group of figures created by members of Terziere Borgo Dentro interprets paintings by great painters inspired by the passion of Christ and Easter. The masterly made reconstituted scenes are set in the basement of Palazzo Orca and are on show on Easter Sunday and Easter Monday during Easter in Umbria celebrations.

The living pictures are 3D representations of famous paintings reconstructed into real scenes with costumes. The quality of the reconstruction is striking, both in the craft aspects of the costumes and of the scenes with spectacular plays of light, recreating the atmosphere of the original paintings. In particular the paintings of Caravaggio are very difficult to represent for the use of light by this painter, but these living representations have great emotional impact.

The tradition of stage performances of this type dates back to 1800, the ‘Tableaux Vivants’ that enriched major royal events such as weddings or coronations. ‘Living Pictures’ went into the history books with a scene organized by Edouard Manet which incorporated a lost painting by Raphael described in an etching.

The scene was then painted by Manet in his famous “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe”, which, in 1863, upset the self-righteous and changed styles of painting giving impressionism its final ‘leg-up’. The representation of nakedness of Victorine Maurent alongside dressed men is perhaps one of the most famous paintings in the world.

In cinematography Living Paintings have been used by great directors such as Pasolini, Godard and Greenway, to present something that could not have been represented in a normal film sequence.

The Terziere Borgo Dentro is one of three districts of the city that in August contend for victory during the historic Palio dei Terzieri. In these associations you find the citizens of Città della Pieve who are busy all year animating their community with functions and important tourist events.

The Easter in Umbria representation of ‘Living Pictures’ fully captures the spirit of the people of Città della Pieve, a town famous as the birthplace of Pietro Vannucci, known as Perugino, master of Raphael and perhaps the topmost Umbrian painter.

Surely these ‘living pictures’ are the most realistic ever to be “painted”. Visit during your Easter in Umbria