Fra Fillipo Lippi fresco cycle in Prato duomo; Prato cathedral Part 2

Late last week I had the great pleasure of visiting Prato with a new friend who was born and raised there.  There is nothing like visiting a lovely small Italian town with someone who knows their way around.  My friend showed me things I would have found on my own!

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I wrote a post on the Duomo of Prato, where I discussed the architecture and sculpture.  The Duomo is such a rich repository of masterworks that it needs several posts.  Today I will deal only with the Far Fillips Lippi frescoes created between 1452-66.

Let’s start with this basic premise: these paintings are gorgeous and in excellent condition!  I have waited an art historian’s lifetime to see them and they did to disappoint.

This is the apse end of the basilica in all of its glory.  The Far Fillipo Lippi frescoes are in the chapel in the center:

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These frescoes show the master, Fra Filippo Lippi, at his finest. They were produced slowly and sporadically between 1452 and 1466.

The enormous scale of the choir, and consequently the painted subjects, were a far cry from the intimacy of the Brancacci Chapel.  The cycle has been restored recently, revealing powerful yet sensitive images produced with verve and facility during a late period in Lippi’s development.

The Prato frescoes were both an artistic and a physical challenge for the aging painter, and, particularly in the large scenes on either side of the choir with stories of St John the Baptist and St Stephen, scholars believe that a significant share of the execution may be attributed to workshop assistants.

Below: View of the chapel filled with the fresco cycle

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South Wall

Below: overview of the right (south) wall of the main chapel

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Beginning at top, coming down, we begin with “The Birth and Naming St John”

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The Birth and Naming St John (detail)

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The 2nd fresco down from the top: “St. John Taking Leave of His Parents”

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St. John Taking Leave of his Parents (detail)

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St. John Taking Leave of His Parents (detail)

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Third scene down from the top: Herod’s Banquet

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Herod’s Banquet (detail)

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Herod’s Banquet (detail)

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Herod’s Banquet (detail)

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Herod’s Banquet (detail)

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Herod’s Banquet (detail)

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The Beheading of John the Baptist, scene to the far left of the main fresco

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North Wall:

View of the left (north) wall of the main chapel

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Beginning at top of fresco on North wall: St Stephen is Born and Replaced by Another Child

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St Stephen is Born and Replaced by Another Child (detail)

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St Stephen is Born and Replaced by Another Child (detail)

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2nd Fresco down from top, The Disputation in the Synagogue

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The Disputation in the Synagogue (detail)

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The Disputation in the Synagogue (detail)

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The Disputation in the Synagogue (detail)

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The  Disputation in the Synagogue (detail)

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Third fresco down from the top: The Funeral of St Stephen

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The Funeral of St Stephen (detail)

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The Funeral of St Stephen (detail)

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The Funeral of St Stephen (detail)

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The Funeral of St Stephen (detail)

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The Funeral of St Stephen (detail)

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Scene to the far right of the main fresco: The Martyrdom of St Stephen

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St Alberto of Trapani

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St Alberto of Trapani

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Allora, I have shown you the main paintings within this fresco cycle and explained the location.  Now let me simply share the pictures I took with my phone.  My phone was never pointed at anything more beautiful…and that is saying something!

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A short note on Pietrasanta and the artist Romano Cosci

Yesterday I had the chance to see the Carnevale parade in Pietrasanta.  I want to add a short note on the town itself.

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Above and below are picture of Pietrosanta’s duomo.  A service was ongoing when I stopped inside.  It is actually a pretty rare event that I find a service going on in the many churches I visit throughout this country. Who’d a thunk it?

It was nice to observe.  And, il duomo is quite wonderful, filled with interesting paintings and sculptures.

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As ever, the simple local bars serve cappuccino to die for.  Starbucks, eat your heart out.

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The deconsecrated church of Sant’ Agostino today serves Pietrasanta and environs as a beautiful exhibition space for local artists.  I first had the pleasure of joining my dear friend, Grayce Murabito and her friend, the actor Eddie Albert (was in Roman Holiday), in viewing an exhibition there about 35 years ago.  I hadn’t been back until yesterday.  Somewhere I have photos of lovely Grayce standing in front of the sign advertising the exhibition of her husband’s works: the painter and sculptor, Rosario Murabito.

(The church itself is fascinating: Built in the 14th century, it was annexed to the convent and the ospedale dei Mercanti. The façade recalls architectural and sculptural decoration of the Cathedral of San Martino di Lucca. There are numerous tombstones on the floor and sections of fresco cycles from the 14th-15th centuries. The former church was deconsecrated before the mid 1980s, and has subsequently been used for temporary exhibitions, especially in the summer months. For information you can contact the “Russo” cultural center, in via sant’Agostino 1, call 0584.795500 or visit the website http://www.museodeibozzetti.it. See also www.comune.pietrasanta.lu.it and official page http://www.facebook.com/comunedi.pietrasanta?fref=ts )

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Romano Cosci, painter and sculptor, was born near Lucca in 1939. He was trained in the fifties in the stimulating atmosphere of the sculpture workshops and the art foundries of Pietrasanta (where he worked and lived) under the guidance of artists – prestigious artisans like Leonida Parma and Ferruccio Vezzoni and had as a teacher and friend Pietro Annigoni. Until 1986 he taught pictorial disciplines in the artistic high schools of Carrara and Grosseto. His work, with equal parts of talent and poetry, make use of an extraordinary range of expressive media, passing through fresco, marble, bronze, terracotta, mosaic and every other kind of 2-d design.  He died in 2014.

 

 

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A couple other views of lovely Pietrasanta:

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Inside Brunelleschi’s dome, Florence

Last month found me climbing the millions of steps to the top of the Florence cathedral dome.  Wow, what a hike and what an incredible view from the top!

One of the many treats of that worthwhile climb is the opportunity to see the Vasari frescoes of the Last Judgement, that adorns the interior of Brunelleschi’s magnificently engineered dome.  This post is dedicated to the Vasari paintings.

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Il Duomo, Firenze: urban climbs

My birthday was last month and I marked it in a big way this year.  A fellow-January birthday girl and I got tickets to climb to the top of the Florence cathedral dome.  It is a bit of a hike.  You climb up more than 1200 steps, many very steep, and, even in January, the stairways are crowded.  It was worth every step!

You must be very careful on these stairways, some narrow, some steep, some filled with people going down while you are going up.  I was very, very careful, bc who wants to fall on a stairway from the roof of the duomo?

This post covers the exterior, a separate post is coming soon on the interior of the dome.

So, the first stopping place is the terrace level below the dome, as seen here:

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The views, even from this lesser level, are outstanding!  There’s the dome of San Lorenzo:

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Beguiling views of the baptistry:

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So, as I said, I was extremely careful as I climbed up the duomo stairways.  And then, 2 days later, I missed a step on a small stairway in my apartment building, lost my balance and twisted my ankle.  And I’ve been laid up ever since!  I finally got an X-ray and nothing was broken, thank goodness, but the ligaments were torn, so we think.

Anyway, feeling sorry for myself with my foot elevated for several weeks, I haven’t felt like talking about the dome climb.  I am almost back to walking well by now, and this is my post to celebrate that fact!

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Above and below, shots of the January skies over Florence:

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Ahoy down there!

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Looking to San Lorenzo: when I’m high up above Florence I realize again how small this city really is!

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Looking toward Fiesole:

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Looking up and thinking: “can I climb that many more steps to get up there?” Not completely convinced.

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The quality of the sculptural details at this height was amazing to me.  The architects and sculptors could have been excused for skimping on details: I mean, how many people will ever see the work from close-up?

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But they skimped on nothing:

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So, okay, chicken, let’s keep climbing.  You made it this far.  So, up we go, and the climb got more severe:

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This sweet woman encouraged me every step of the way, which was a lot of steps!

 

 

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Above: Looking south, way across Florence, we see Forte Belvedere with its tower:

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Below: looking across Florence to San Minato al Monte:

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Looking over to the synagogue with the green dome:

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Looking towards Santa Croce:

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In the middle ground, the Bargello and Badia:

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Looking toward the Mercato Centrale, with the green roof:

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San Lorenzo with train station in background:

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Looking way across town to the church of Santa Maria Novella:

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Another shot of San Lorenzo with its entire complex shown:

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Orsan Michele in foreground, Palazzo Pitti in front of forest (Boboli Gardens).

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Below: looking to Piazza della Repubblica:

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Below: details inside the Giardino Boboli:

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Versailles in 3 minutes

Few tourists making their first trip to France go home without having seen Versailles. But why do so many want to see Versailles in the first place? Yes, its history goes all the way back to the 1620s, with its comparatively modest beginnings as a hunting lodge built for King Louis XIII, but much in Europe goes back quite a bit further. It did house the French royal family for generations, but absolute monarchy hasn’t been a favored institution in France for quite some time. Only the most jaded visitors could come away unimpressed by the palace’s sheer grandness, but those in need of a hit of ostentation can always get it on certain shopping streets in Paris. The appeal of Versailles, and of Versailles alone, must have more do with the way it physically embodies centuries of French history.

You can watch that history unfold through the construction of Versailles, both exterior and interior, in these two videos from the official Versailles Youtube channel. The first begins with Louis XIII’s hunting lodge, which, when the “Sun King” Louis XIV inherited its site, had been replaced by a small stone-and-brick chateau. There Louis XIV launched an ambitious building campaign, and the half-century-long project ultimately produced the largest chateau in all Europe.

 

Source: http://www.openculture.com/2019/01/an-animated-history-of-versailles.html?fbclid=IwAR1vls-PKRhfRPA7SkWXHhpi2sTQ9X88XszbdQa8fcz1yUuR3H0nq4_-WYM

A new way to see Ancient Rome

Ambitious VR Experience Restores 7,000 Roman Buildings, Monuments to Their Former Glory

You can take an aerial tour of the city circa 320 A.D. or stop by specific sites for in-depth exploration

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Read more:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/vr-experience-restores-7000-roman-buildings-monuments-their-former-glory-180970901/?fbclid=IwAR332ZlFSbr4CAzKKwQDrDneevnCKLGnBJ7GPsABMZZvLk597brMNge9Jkc