Gio Ponti and me, once upon a time…

Once upon a time, many moons ago, I worked in a Gio Ponti building.  I loved being in that great building (Denver Art Museum).

So when I came across this cool pic of Ponti in Milano, I thought, it’s about time I said something about him.

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Celebrating the Milano Design Week with a picture of Gio Ponti at the top of the Grattacielo Pirelli (Milan-1959).
(c)Archivio Gio Ponti

Redecorating my Florence apartment

So, I’ve been in my current apartment for almost a year now.  I really like it, but decided to do a bit of redecorating and renovation.  Here I will share all of these changes.

First of all, I wanted to update my bedroom.  I got a new bed and a lot of new furniture.  I  had the whole ensemble covered with this blue silk.  What do you think?  Is it maybe a bit too elegant?  I want it to be.

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Sometimes I think I may have gone a little too far, but other times I remind myself: YOLO.

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Sleep is a wondrous thing and so I had the symbol of poppies incorporated into my new bed.  Is the gold leaf a little over the top?  I surely hope so!

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Just a couple more snapshots of my bed.  I love it so much!

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In the photo below you can see my new divan, covered in matching silk.  I must say, I need a couple of Murano lamps somewhere on that side of the room.  It tends to be a little dark, even in daytime.

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I updated my bathroom and show you just a hint of it here.

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I host a lot of get togethers and parties, and my guests are always asking for billiard tables, so I enlarged my game room and bought a couple of vintage tables, chandeliers, etc.  I was going for a men’s social club ambience.  Do you think I achieved it?  I think so.

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I recently found this beautiful antique, which is an early sort of pinball table.  It fits nicely in my new room.

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My first guests have had a hard time remembering where the bathrooms are, so I put in an “uscita” sign, which you see below.  I felt like “exit” was nicer to have in the room than “bathroom.”  Now, when people ask me where the bathrooms are, I just say, “follow the exit sign.”  So far it has worked pretty well. Sometimes the guests actually leave, which can also be a positive. :-)

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So, that’s my new place.  I bought the chandelier below, but haven’t figured out where I want to place it yet.

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Ha ha! Or, as Italians write: ahahaha!  April Fool’s!  The pictures are all from one of the Medici villas, the Villa La Pietra in Castello!  So far I am only a Medici heir in my imagination.

 

 

 

 

Galileo Museum, Florence

In all the time I’ve spent in Florence over the years, I have never, ever set foot in the Galileo Museum.  So, today I finally went.  Science in general is not my cup of tea, but this museum is much more than a science museum.

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For starters, here’s the view from the museum.  Hello up there, San Miniato!

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Not bad, right?!  I know.

You also can enjoy the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio from the museum:

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So, here’s how my visit went today.

For starters, I learned right off the bat that the basis for this incredible collection of scientific instruments and realia is courtesy of the Medici family. No surprise there, I suppose; I had just never thought about it.  In the case of this scientific collection, it is one of the later Medici (not the Renaissance era family) who put these amazing things together and bequeathed them to Firenze.  Here is Grand Duke Peter Leopold’s very interesting “chemistry cabinet.”  I’ve seen a lot of bunsen burners in my school days, but I’ve never seen a cabinet made of the finest woods and high quality finishing.  It is quite something.

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Neither of the pictures below do the cabinet justice.  There were just too many attractions in this room for me to focus on the cabinet itself.

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Here’s some interesting information about the collection and Grand Duke.

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Now, what I hadn’t known before today is that many scientific discoveries were performed for the European elite at their evening parties. Read the English text in the following slide, which discusses how these soirees would feature chemistry tricks, etc.

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I think the following panel tells the story most succinctly: electricity took the place of the quadrille.  Who needs to dance when you can be amazed when things light up and other “magical” effects.

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The 18th century was truly an age of discovery, as the following quote lays out:

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And, of course, if you are going to present scientific parlor tricks to the upper crust, you have to have some impressive and attractive equipment.  To wit: this label in English:

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Indeed, and here is a sampling of some of them.  They are presented in a very effective exhibition manner in this very handsome museum.

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Check out this portrait of an Italian scientist named Giovanni Battista Amici. What I immediately noticed was his unusual hairdo.  I wonder if he or his portraitist considered maybe combing his hair?

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Giovanni Battista Amici (1786-1863) was an Italian astronomer, microscopist, and botanist. He was the director of the observatory at Florence, where he also lectured at the museum of natural history. Amici died in Florence in 1863.

Amici is best known for the improvements he effected in the mirrors of reflecting telescopes and especially in the construction of the microscope. He was also a diligent and skillful observer, and busied himself not only with astronomical subjects, such as the double stars, the satellites of Jupiter and the measurement of the polar and equatorial diameters of the sun, but also with biological studies of the circulation of the sap in plants, the fructification of plants, infusoria etc. He was the first to observe the pollen tube. He invented the dipleidoscope and also the direct vision prism and the “Amici crater” on the Moon is named in his honor.

Back to the exquisite instruments.  These glass objects were mind-blowing in that they are hundreds of years old and fragile and some of these delicate vials and decanters are really large.

 

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As the museum exhibition makes clear, there was a boon for the manufacturers of these delicate and finely calibrated pieces of equipment.  The high echelon of society that enjoyed watching evening entertainments composed of science demonstrations often wanted to have some of their own objects.  Hence: a boom in the manufacturing.

 

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Here’s how you weighed yourself if you were uppercrust:

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And then there was the advancements in clock-making.

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Another genre of objets produced to amaze high society were paintings contrived so that you see one picture (a gentleman) when you look at it straight on, and you see a second picture (the gentleman’s wife?) when you look at the mirror attached to the top of the painting.  I’m an art historian and I’ve never seen anything like this.  Italy has a way of amazing me, almost daily.

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And then there are the armillary spheres and globes! The next set of pix are all of one spectacular Florentine 16th-century armillary sphere:

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And then there are the globes, both terrestrial and celestial:

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And the maps!  The elaborate 15th-century map below shows the known world.  Asia is a land mass to the west of Europe here.  The New World had not yet been imagined.

 

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And did you know, because I didn’t until today, that the Medici had plans to get involved in the great age of discovery:

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And then there are the atlases:

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And who might this be?

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Amerigo Vespucci, don’t you know.  He was a Florentine of course. I’ve seen his tomb in the Chiesa Di San Salvatore di Ognissanti.  (FYI: Sandro Botticelli is buried there too.)

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More instruments, beautifully displayed:

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The cabinet pieces:

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I’ve saved my favorite objets for last: the thinest, most beautiful glass vessels:

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See those tall, thin extensions of certain glass pieces above?  Those are glass and a part of the object.  It is absolutely stunning. And they are old! How did they survive?

 

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And finally, the important man for whom this collection is named:

 

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Vasari Corridor, Uffizi, Florence

It was recently announced that the Vasari Corridor will open again in 2021.  Until then, and for those who have never seen this great hallway filled with self-portraits of hundreds of artists, here is a great video that takes you through the entire corridor in a very fast pace.

 

Also, see here:

https://firenze.repubblica.it/tempo-libero/articoli/cultura/2019/02/18/news/firenze_il_corridoio_vasariano_riaprira_nel_2021_schmidt_-219437766/?fbclid=IwAR2T_oKK3hiUb6tw_BQdl76o0sKSYeyXyiUx8qgqL3Fg-HgfU1T3tVGmFIo

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