Back to the Uffizi! Part 1, June 2020

What a joy to return to this wonderful museum.  Despite the fact that Americans still can’t travel to Italy because of the Covid 19, I was surprised by the line outside the Uffizi.  Once inside, however, the crowds thinned out after the first few galleries.

I had the new Michelangelo and Raphael gallery virtually to myself.  Speaking of joy.  It was so meaningful to me to be able to get up close and personal again with these amazing works of art.

img_6776

 

Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo:

img_6769

 

img_6791

 

img_6770

 

img_6771

The Uffizi says of this painting:
This painting dates to when Michelangelo returned to Florence after his first stay in Rome, the same period when the great artist sculpted the famous David.

The work (c. 1506-1508) is the only painting by Michelangelo in Florence and is one of the masterpieces of the 16th century Italian art.

During the Renaissance, the “tondo” was a typical work for private clients. This tondo was commissioned by the wealthy banker Agnolo Doni, probably at the time of his marriage to Maddalena, member of the very important Strozzi family.

The figures of Mary, Joseph and the Child, are grouped in a single volume in which the rotation of the Madonna gives the composition a spiral movement that will later be used by many artists. In the background a group of young nudes brings to mind a classic theme, symbolizing the pagan humanity still ignorant of Christian doctrine. It is also interesting to notice the beautiful carved wooden frame, designed by Michelangelo himself.

From the artistic point of view, the Tondo Doni laid the foundations of the so-called Mannerism, the style of painting that preferred bizarre, unnatural poses and iridescent colors to the composed painting of the XV century.

The Tondo Doni is therefore a very important work of art because it is one of the few examples of Michelangelo’s painting, together with the magnificent frescoes in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel.

 

img_6775

 

 

Raphael’s Madonna of the Goldfinch:

 

img_6772

 

img_6774

img_6773

 

 

Raphael’s portrait of Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, 1503-06:

img_6781

 

img_6780

 

Raphael: Portrait of Elisabetta Gonzaga, 1503-06.

img_6782

 

img_6783

 

img_6784

 

 

 

Raphael: Portraits of Agnolo Doni and Maddalena Strozzi, 1504-06/

img_6785

 

img_6786

 

img_6787

 

img_6788

 

The Uffizi has hung the Doni portraits in a manner allowing us to see the very interesting backs of the paintings:

img_6789

 

img_6790

 

Today (June 25, 2020) was a great day in Florence!

 

 

On the Michelangelo trail in Rome

I’m in Rome!  Woo hoo!  All roads lead here and I couldn’t wait to follow one of them and to enjoy the city without the usual summer hordes of tourists.

I spent the lockdown refreshing my study of Michelangelo and I’m on his trail here in Rome.  I started my visit today by admiring the beautiful Porta Pia.

fullsizeoutput_39a9

The elaborate Porta Pia is a gate in the Aurelian Walls of Rome, designed by Michelangelo for Pope Pius IV.  Construction began in 1561 and ended in 1565, after the artist’s death. A 1561 bronze commemorative medal by Gianfederico Bonzagna shows an early plan by Michelangelo, very different from his final design. 

 

baN0BnvQR1qAsNHiWVeLnA

A new gate was needed because by the mid 16th century,  the newly developing urban area outside the walls couldn’t gain access through the nearby ancient Porta Nomentana from the Via Nomentana. It was decided to add a new gate to the walls, and, according to Vasari, Michelangelo presented three different designs to the Pope, which were beautiful but too extravagant, and the Pope chose the least expensive of the three. Unfortunately, the drawings are not extant and it is not known if  the work was actually carried out to Michelangelo’s original plan.

The gate was, however, Michelangelo’s last architectural work.  He died shortly before the structure was completed. The work was carried out by Giacomo Del Duca, who also built Porta San Giovanni, seen below.

Brána_sv._Jana,_Řím

 

 

fullsizeoutput_39ab

The Porta Pia is one of the 18 gates inserted in the defensive Aurelian Walls.

 

fullsizeoutput_39ad

PIVS IV PONT MAXPORTAM PIAMSVBLATA NOMENTANA EXTRVXITVIAM PIAM AEQVATA ALTA SEMITA DVXIT

 

lV0GT+OPTSqme+eSet%5Lg

 

lV0GT+OPTSqme+eSet%5Lg

Interestingly, the opposite side of the Porta Pia is also quite interesting. It was constructed in 1869 in the Neo-Classic design by Virginio Vespignani.

UdeHSzI+ThmqaL4l3NarTA

 

The Aurelian wall was breached during the Risorgimento.  This fabulous vintage photograph, dating to after 1870, shows the breach to the right of the gate.

1024px-BrecciaPortaPia

It was through an artillery-opened breach – known as the “Porta Pia breach” – that on September 20, 1870 Bersaglieri soldiers entered Rome to complete the unification of Italy. A marble and bronze monument is to be found at the exact point of the breach.

This painting by Carlo Ademollo, 1880, shows the Kingdom of Italy troops breaching the Aurelian Walls at Porta Pia during the Capture of Rome.

Here also, on September 11, 1926, the antifascist activist Gino Lucetti threw a bomb against the car transporting Benito Mussolini.  It was without effect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donatello, Verrochio and Michelangelo at the Palazzo Vecchio; 3 master Florentine sculptors

In this imposing, Medieval Florentine city hall,

img_6760

 

Reside 3 works by master sculptors of the Italian Renaissance:

First, The Genius of Victory by Michelangelo

img_6615

 

img_6616

 

img_6617

 

img_6618

 

 

Andrea Verrochio is up next, with his wonderful Putto with a Dolphin:

img_6639

 

img_6641

 

img_6642

 

img_6644

 

 

And, thirdly, Donatello.  He is one of all-time favorite artists and this sculpture, Judith and Holofernes, is one of his masterpieces. It resides in this gorgeous room.  You can see it on its pedestal to the right.

 

img_6710

 

img_6711

 

img_6712

 

img_6714

 

img_6713

 

img_6715

 

img_6720

 

img_6721

 

img_6741

 

img_6742

Palazzo Vecchio (June 2020) Part 2

Here’s the next part of my recent visit to the re-opened Palazzo Vecchio:

img_6677

I love the view of the rustic stone through the glass.

 

 

img_6678

 

What a wonderful sink below!  Two spigots that look like fountains:

img_6680

The sink is in this elaborate niche:

img_6679

Below, you can see the shape of the sink itself:

img_6681

 

 

 

img_6682

 

img_6683

 

img_6684

 

Below: the death mask of Dante:

img_6685

img_6686

img_6687

 

 

 

img_6688

img_6689

img_6690

An amazingly elaborate reliquary:

img_6691

img_6692

 

 

Next up, the elaborate Audience Chamber:

img_6693

 

Here’s the ceiling:

img_6694

 

img_6695

 

img_6696

 

img_6697

 

img_6698

 

img_6699

 

img_6701

 

img_6700

 

img_6702

 

img_6703

 

img_6704

 

img_6705

 

img_6706

 

These frescoes “idealize” even war.  I like the colorful tents that housed the troops.  I doubt they were this lovely in real life.

img_6707

 

img_6708

 

img_6709

 

img_6710

 

Donatello’s Judith and Holofernes:

img_6711

 

img_6712

 

img_6714

 

img_6713

 

img_6715

 

img_6716

 

img_6717

 

img_6718

 

img_6719

 

img_6720

 

img_6721

 

img_6722

 

img_6741

 

img_6742

 

img_6727

 

 

img_6723

Early morning walk in Florence

30 June 2020.

The only way to beat the heat of a Florentine summer is to walk the city early in the morning.  Here are some pix from today’s path.

First up: some hot cars on a hot morning.

x8j3n3kORtacw9TOez6opg

 

The area in front of the restaurant at the Piazzale Michelangelo has a beautiful and well cared for planting.  I love the hues of greens/yellows and lavender.

0knX4vAKScurkM8nq0Ul6Q

 

+fEHMGt7Ti+w68HqMRmGKQ

 

FvatvNIzQEiERxVda6EYlw

 

 

sUWnw40ASbu0oMgcHpeUig

 

There’s a ubiquitous perennial I see all around Florence and I don’t know it’s name.  But it has the prettiest white and vivid red blossoms.  I love it.

hpYLzE2XRvu9PhkR0jflUQ

 

fullsizeoutput_3933

 

fullsizeoutput_3932

 

dZRtivMARvyjycahEzpBgA

 

This bee loves these flowers as much–or more–than I do!

 

Every morning, I think I won’t take another picture of the duomo.  And then I see another view that demands that I do!

oddv5QFPSFOrI4YM6f6YeA

 

I love this view of Santa Croce and the aquamarine dome of the synagogue on the right side.

K4qJYNIATeOGIIz4RUeBhQ

 

And then, walking down the ramps designed in the 19th century by Poggi, I see more incredible views from the Porta San Niccolo.

qzONf1yqTCebtpxEQS+KhQ

 

emkEKTSJSZe7aKKx+9sF0A

 

Walking across the Ponte alle Grazie, it is fun to see the boaters out on the water near the  Società Canottieri down on the banks of the Arno.

 

 

q%ZqJZAGQdmJMZvh+em47g

 

YAN+Ee4jRm61SNyfezVoQw

 

OHdCX+ELRnutEb5Nxf8Wpw

 

I spotted yet another pattern of marble inlay.  I love these old patterns.

fullsizeoutput_3943

 

 

And, a reminder that a century ago, important news often came by letter and telegram.

fullsizeoutput_3941

Palazzo Vecchio, Florence (June 2020) Part 1

One by one, the landmarks of Florence have been re-opening.  With new rules and regulations, one can pay a visit to these famous sites.  I recently enjoyed seeing the Palazzo Vecchio for the first time since the lock down. Very enjoyable to see old friends.

 

img_6760

 

 
Il Salone dei Cinquecento:

 

img_6652

 

img_6653

 

img_6654

 

img_6608

 

The Salone dei Cinquecento (‘Hall of the Five Hundred’) is the most imposing chamber in the Palazzo Vecchio, with a length of 170 ft and width of 75 ft. It was built in 1494 by Simone del Pollaiolo, on commission of Savonarola who, replacing the Medici after their exile as the spiritual leader of the Republic, wanted it as a seat of the Grand Council (Consiglio Maggiore) consisting of 500 members.

Later the hall was enlarged by Giorgio Vasari so that Grand Duke Cosimo I could hold his court in this chamber. During this transformation, famous (but unfinished) works were lost, including the Battle of Cascina by Michelangelo, and the Battle of Anghiari by Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo was commissioned in 1503 to paint one long wall with a battle scene celebrating a famous Florentine victory. He was always trying new methods and materials and decided to mix wax into his pigments. Da Vinci had finished painting part of the wall, but it was not drying fast enough, so he brought in braziers stoked with hot coals to try to hurry the process. As others watched in horror, the wax in the fresco melted under the intense heat and the colors ran down the walls to puddle on the floor. A legend exists that Giorgio Vasari, wanting to preserve Da Vinci’s work, had a false wall built over the top of The Battle of Anghiari before painting his fresco. Attempts made to find Da Vinci’s original work behind the Vasari fresco have so far been inconclusive.

Michelangelo never proceeded beyond the preparatory drawings for the fresco he was commissioned to paint on the opposite wall. Pope Julius II called him to Rome to paint the Sistine Chapel, and the master’s sketches were destroyed by eager young artists who came to study them and took away scraps. The surviving decorations in this hall were made between 1555 and 1572 by Giorgio Vasari and his helpers, among them Livio Agresti from Forlì. They mark the culmination of mannerism and make this hall the showpiece of the palace.

 

Here are some miscellaneous objets that caught my eye on this day.  All of them are in the Salone dei Cinquecento, unless otherwise noted:

img_6609

 

img_6610

 

img_6611

 

I see the coat of arts of the Medici family all over Florence, but this one is beyond extravagant:

img_6612

 

img_6613

 

img_6614

 

 

 

A sculpture by Michelangelo takes a place of honor in this large hall:

img_6615

 

img_6616

 

img_6617

 

img_6618

 

 

OK, we have departed the Salone.  All of the following pictures are from subsequent rooms.

img_6619

img_6620

img_6621

 

img_6622

 

img_6623

 

 

One of the things I like about many Italian stairways is the use of these heavy cords.  I like the way they look and the way they draw on Italian textile traditions.

img_6625

 

 

 

 

 

img_6626

 

The St. John’s Day Fireworks have been an ongoing Florentine tradition for centuries.  It was fun to see this painting depict it from the 16th century.

img_6627

 

img_6628

 

img_6629

 

img_6630

 

 

 

Here’s another fanciful coat of arts for the Medici family, this one in fresco:

img_6631

 

And putti carry the crown that will sit on Medici heads:

img_6632

 

img_6633

 

img_6634

 

img_6635

 

img_6636

 

img_6637

 

img_6638

 

 

 

img_6639

 

img_6640

 

 

Here is the original Verrocchio statue.  A copy sits in its original place in an open courtyard on the ground floor.

img_6641

 

img_6642

 

img_6644

img_6645

 

 

img_6646img_6647

 

img_6643

 

 

 

 

 

img_6648img_6649img_6650

img_6651

 

 

 

 

img_6655

 

img_6656

 

img_6657

 

img_6658

 

img_6659

 

img_6660

 

img_6661

 

img_6662

 

img_6663

 

img_6664

 

img_6676

img_6665

 

 

 

Eleonora’s private chapel is a gorgeously painted small room:

img_6668

 

img_6666

 

img_6667

 

img_6669

 

img_6670

 

img_6672

 

img_6671

 

img_6673

 

img_6674

 

img_6675