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 500 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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Art nouveau church in Paris

There’s a beautiful church in Montmartre that was a revelation (ha ha) to me on my recent visit in Paris.  Here it is:771161497_7c94bcdbb6_b

The church is Saint Jean de Montmartre.

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I think it is fair to say I’ve spent a lot of time visiting churches, to study Renaissance architecture, sculpture, and paintings.  But, this church in Montmartre was the first ever Art Nouveau church I’ve ever seen and it was as lovely as it was interesting.

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So, here’s what Wikipedia shares about this interesting church:

The Church of Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre is located at 19 Rue des Abbesses in the 18th arrondissement.  Situated at the foot of Montmartre, it is notable as the first example of reinforced concrete in church construction. Built from 1894 through 1904, it was designed by architect Anatole de Baudot, a student of Viollet-le-Duc and Henri Labrouste. The brick and ceramic tile-faced structure exhibits features of Art Nouveau design while exploiting the superior structural qualities of reinforced concrete with lightness and transparency. The Art Nouveau stained glass was executed by Jac Galland according to the design of Pascal Blanchard. Interior sculpture was by Pierre Roche.

The reinforced concrete structure followed a system developed by the engineer Paul Cottancin. Construction was attended by skepticism over the properties of the new material, which violated rules laid down for unreinforced masonry construction. A lawsuit delayed construction, resulting in a demolition order that was not resolved until 1902, when construction was resumed.

There is a guided tour of the church on every fourth Sunday of the month at 4:00 PM.

The Church of Saint-Jean-Montmartre was commissioned by Montmartre priest Father Sobbeaux. The population of the town was growing and the only other abbey church, Saint-Pierre de Montmartre was too small. Saint-Pierre de Montmartre was located at the top hill of Montmartre, and could only serve those living up there. The new church was part of Fr. Sobbeaux’s personal mission to evangelize the population of the lower part of the hill, and he was responsible for raising all the funds for construction.

Using reinforced concrete on Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre resulted in the church being quite ahead of its time and, and building codes had not caught up yet. Cottancin’s system was so new and revolutionary, it was difficult for people to believe the structure would actually stand. Even other architects opposed the plan, and believed it would collapse.

The church was built in ten years, the reason for it taking so long was because construction had to be stopped as a result of a lawsuit filed in 1898 due to ” non-conformity of town planning”.

Next came an order for the demolition of the building. This resulted in the performance of innumerable tests to ensure the structural integrity of the building. To save the church, Baudot and Sobbeaux set up technical demonstrations. They recreated the pillars and flagstone floor in the garden of the church to prove the strength and stability of the building. This demonstration reassured the skeptics and the order for the destruction of the church was lifted.

Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre is the first religious building to be made from concrete, understandably there was some concern over the aesthetic qualities of the material. The red brick facade, is used for decoration as well as additional support an insulation. The exterior is also embellished with geometric designs made from multicolored sandstone pearls. Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre is in the architectural style art nouveau, one of the few Parisian churches in this style.[6] The theme of the exterior and interior design is based off the writings of St. John- The fourth Gospel and the Apocalypse.

 

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Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Firenze

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The palace of the De’ Medici Family has a troubled history.

When Filippo Brunelleschi presented his project of a palazzo to Cosimo De’ Medici, the latter considered it to be too fancy and gave up the idea.

Then came the draft by Michelozzo Michelozzo, Donatello’s pupil, but this time the Florentines said ‘No’ to what at the time must have seemed an urban mess in the San Lorenzo district.

Finally, the works began with the erection of the famous ashlar walls (with protruding stones), the small and narrow windows with grates, heavy doors, all aimed at intimidating everyone who passed or entered the building.

However, beyond the heavy door, the building takes on a much kinder style, with a courtyard that is a real open-air museum with sarcophagi, inscriptions and statues. 

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In 1659, Gabbriello Riccardi, Marquis of Chianti, became the owner of Palazzo Medici and sold it to the Lorenas, the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, in 1814. After many renovations, it became the seat of the administrative offices and headquarters of the Interior Ministry, in the period when Florence was capital of Italy, between 1865 and 1870.

Since 1874, the Medici Palace is the seat of the Province of Florence and also a museum with works such as the Magi Chapel with frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli.

Germany has the moral duty to return a painting to Florence, according to the Uffizi’s (German) director

Director of the Uffizi Galleries, Eike Schmidt, has kicked off the new year with an appeal: return a painting stolen from the Palazzo Pitti’s collections by Nazi soldiers, healing a 75-year-old wound that is not uncommon in the post-war art world.

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During their retreat in 1944, Wehrmacht soldiers removed Vase of Flowers by Jan van Huysum, along with several other still-life masterpieces from the 17th and 18th centuries, from the Villa Bossi-Pucci, where it was transferred in 1943, having previously been on display in the Palatine Gallery since 1824.

The artwork was eventually brought to Germany, where it ended up in the hands of an unidentified family.

Though its whereabouts were unknown for decades, following reunification in 1991, several intermediaries came forward on behalf of the family to demand the Italian authorities pay to have the painting returned.

These attempts were unsuccessful and Florence’s district attorney’s office eventually concluded that the painting belongs to the Italian State, and so it cannot be bought.

“Germany must abolish its law regarding paintings stolen during the war,” says Schmidt, referring to the statute of limitations preventing prosecution for crimes committed more than 30 years ago, “and ensure that these works be returned to their rightful owners. Germany has a moral duty to return this work to our museum, and I hope that the German state will do so as soon as possible, along with every other work of art stolen by the Nazis.”

Underlining Schmidt’s plea is a black and white reproduction of the painting newly on display in the Sala dei Putti in Palazzo Pitti, alongside an Italian, English and German-language panel explaining that the work was stolen in 1944.

The article above is taken from http://www.theflorentine.net/news/2019/01/return-stolen-artwork-uffizi/?mc_cid=d17a9ccafa&mc_eid=2a398b6f2f

Rare footage of Monet, Degas, Renoir and Rodin

 

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Rare Film of Monet, Renoir, Rodin and Degas
Fine art enthusiasts will appreciate these fascinating 100-year-old film clips of four of the most celebrated artists in history; Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Auguste Rodin, and Edgar Degas. In 1915, with the newly innovated film camera, a young Russian-born, French actor named Sacha Guitry captured some of France’s greatest artists and authors.