He moved close to the Madonna with the intention of leaning the metal tube against the wall alongside her. In fact he was beginning to bend forward to do this. His eyes were on the statue still but he was on the point of looking away to where he was intending to place the spray. His face was very near the folds of the Madonna's robe, where they gathered at the waist, too near to see any form or human likeness, only the ancient enduring grain of the stone. It was then, at the moment he had relaxed attention, was on the point of looking away, perhaps had already begun to do so, that a sudden sense of being quite in the open, without protection, descended on him, accompanied by a strong sensation of space and silence, and a feeling of threatened balance which made him clutch for the rail. He had a fleeting impression of light but he was not in it, or not quite in it, a long straight shadow across the light, two human bodies, naked and gleaming wet, part in light and part in shadow, standing together, but not very close, and some sort of echo or resonance, perhaps of voices, but no words. The impression was a strangely piercing one, perhaps because of the hush that seemed to surround it, but it was over at once, before his own body had achieved a stiffening of surprise. He found himself holding tightly to the scaffold rail. The wet Madonna was again before him. With conscious care he leaned forward to place the spray against the wall.
Tomorrow, back to work on the Madonna. The lower folds of her robe have been
done now, up to a level just above the knees. All this is white and
splendid. I am nervous still about the upper parts, especially the hands and
head. But the quartz-cutter is working wonderfully well. One must of course
restrain the impulse to hurry. It is natural to want to get the whole form
renewed. But any smallest area missed or skimped now will not absorb the
conserver and that could jeopardize the whole value of the restoration. So
patience is the order of the day. She has been patient enough, after
all. È la parte esposta, as Signor Biagi said. No sickliness
there about fruit. Christ of course the spiritual fruit of the Madonna's
womb. But she was not supposed to be an individual, merely a set of
attributes for veneration.
Her right leg, the one that is advanced, is given a definite prominence against the drapery, and the limb itself is quite robust and substantial and moulded very plastically, almost as if it was done by abrasion rather than cutting. Great care has gone into the moulding of this right leg and the only significant movement of the drapery in the area is a long diagonal fold, not very deep - five or six inches going from just below the kneecap to the beginning of the convex line of the calf, on the inside of the leg. This fold does nothing to conceal the details of the leg. In fact it rather sensuously emphasizes them. The left leg of course is masked by the drapery and not articulated.
The Gothic movement is implicit in this right leg and in the way the drapery is used not to enhance volume, as it was in the Venetian sculpture of the time, but to accentuate the line. Something of Nino Pisano there in the clinging lines of the robe? Certainly Pisano influenced the Dalle Masegne brothers and they worked in Bologna and Venice. Milan too, I think. So a line from Pisano through the Dalle Masegne to some northern Italian sculptor of the next generation?