The throne steps are allegories for alchemical works, which are primarily three (se an Opus Magnum scheme). But in all of them Perugino sapiently puts a black face. In fact in every work we basically have a black phase.
As for the saints around the Virgin and child, why Perugino chose St. Ludovico bishop of Toulouse? The umbrian painter could pick up any saint he prefered and in fact St. Ludovico and Lawrence are not so important but let symbolic imaginary to run. A bishop allows Perugino to add also a crozier to paint. In my articles on Croziers I have already presented these liturgical specimens as very important symbolic means. In the Decemviri case we have a pined crozier, a unique in the liturgical history, since a pine cone may hardly have any biblical reference. But a pine cone is alchemically so resembling to our vase, or philosophical egg, or crystal dome. The end of our works. A substance resembling to a pine cone indeed, and this time not metaphorically. Our final construction is the hermetic building. In fact a building is also appearing in the same crozier structure.
We have already encountered St. Lawrence in Michelangelo and the Mumia-Skin in the Last Judgement. Bur here St. Lawrence drops his ladder to wear a sumptuous liturgical garment. We have said above the garment is too much exotic to be a roman catholic liturgical dressing. The red flakes are improbable and embroidered Seraphs very odd and quite forbidden as dressing decorations for a church man. As a matter of fact they are an iconographic theme found just on the famed painters fantasy. Nevertheless, in spite of his lavish appearance, St Lawrence still remains the ladder saint. I say ladder but I should say gridiron instead, in fact he was allegedly martyred on fire. But I have never been able to find him represented with a grill which doesn’t instead look as a portable ladder. This case allow us to think of the alchemical ladder, or stairs, of transmutations.
It is not a change occurrence that all the personages around the Virgin and Child are officiant priests. As I said, Perugino had, as most of the famed artist of his time, a blank paper to choose whoever he had considered artistically suitable for his symbolical purposes. All the officiant personages around the Virgin will appear in the whole of their esoteric meaning when we will comment on the second painting conceived to be set above this canvas. Anyway the ceremony could not be other than a marriage.
The roses on the throne vault are identical to those on Basilica of San Zaccaria, Scuola Grande of San Marco and San Matteo Facades in Venice ( a Jacopo Sansovino mark). So identical, as well as strange, that I will dedicate an article to them.
In the same way I will not comment on the more important piece of symbolism scattered by Perugino in Decemviri altarpiece: the cavity enclosing Virgin and Child. An allegory which is not an allegory at all. But a real necessity when, a step beyond our trivial metallic fatigues, one would have braved the “Terra Incognita”, or unknown land, of a human Soul and the Spirit of Life meeting to create something we are forbidden to know. But the vertigo.
And we are now at least allowed to understand the presence of two officiant priests: one, the bishop with the pine cone crozier, for our trivial metallic work and the strange priest, owing to no known liturgy, to celebrate another union. Red Flakes, too similar to initiatedphylacteries, are placed by Perugino for the strange priest pectoral to show up. And we may have some reminiscences of pectorals importance in some odd ceremonies. The embroidered seraphs are alchemically a symbol for very etherealworlds. Which only a martyr with a ladder can reach. And only a knight riding along with a lion are allowed to enter: horses are a symbol of eternal life in many religions since the greatest antiquity and lions of the alchemical ultimate step (3).
If you are looking for the necessary instrument to try all that you just need to go down one step and the unicorn/Mercurius will suit you. The unicorn will operate on the Virgin/Mercurius and her Child now Sulphur, before Mercurius. Nevertheless inside a hidden and dark cavity we will find other ethereal unicorns. And perhaps, this time, they will not be cost fatigue to alchemists.
- See also Heiligen Dreifaltigkeit and Secret Iconography of the Wheel and Pietro Perugino and the Lady of the Wind ;
- See also Capello & Equinox Nostoc Collecting , Nicolas Lefevre and the Flos Coeli Medecine ;
- See also Canseliet and the Color of the Spirit ;
- See also Atalanta Fugiens and the Golden Apples ;