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.

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

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

Screen Shot 2018-12-29 at 14.11.08


Read more:

La belle Paris!

It’s been a few years since I’ve been in this elegant beautiful capital and I’ve missed her! Just arrived last night and spent a fun day revisiting old haunts.  More to come!

Green is the color of the best shots of the day:









So, what’s new in gay Paree?

Well, the I.M. Pei Louvre Pyramid has a gold throne floating inside:


It’s the Throne by Kohei Nawa, exhibited from July 2018 – January 14, 2019.

A monumental floating throne by the sculptor Kohei Nawa. As part of “Japonismes 2018: Souls in Resonance,” the pyramid of the Louvre will house a monumental sculpture by Kohei Nawa, beginning in the month of July 2018 and running through 14 January 2019.  The work, inspired by the shapes and origins of the chariots used in the Orient during religious festivals, is a combination of the art of gold leaf gilding, which dates back to Ancient Egypt, and the latest 3D modeling techniques.


This 10.4 meter-high monumental sculpture will float in the middle of the Louvre Pyramid for six months, in order to question the notions of power and authority that have been perpetuated in the past, and to question the future that awaits us.

Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville; no other city hall ever looked so good! I am still a sucker for great Neoclassical sculpture:





Strolling through the city I saw this fashion photo in a vitrine; the best way to ride a horse is in your pink silk taffeta ballgown!  I wish I had known that growing up on the back of my horse!



Not far from city hall I wandered by Place Louis Aragon.


I was intrigued by the inscribed lines speaking of a tranquil island.

Connaissez-vous l’île
Au cœur de la ville
Où tout est tranquille


In English:

Do you know the island

In the heart of the city

Where everything is quiet


I looked Louis Aragon up when I got back to my hotel:  Louis Aragon (1897 – 1982) was a French poet and one of the leading voices of the surrealist movement in France. Place Louis Aragon is located at the tip of Ile Saint-Louis, near Quai de Bourbon, with amazing views of the cathedral of Notre Dame and the Seine This small but extraordinarily located square is close to the apartment of Aurelian, where in Aragon’s novel of the same name the hero lived.



The apse end of Notre Dame begins to beckon:



I spy the famed flying buttresses!







Once a garden designer, always a garden designer.  I was interested to see that the gardeners here had tied up the ornamental grass plants.  That must mean that the grasses don’t winter kill in Paris (they do in Colorado where my garden is), so they want to maintain the foliage.  Who knew?!



Walking along the Seine and rounding Notre Dame from the back to the front, I saw other gardens with roughly-cut and crudely crafted structures for plants to climb. These came as a surprise in Paris, where everything is so formal and structured.



I’m going to post the next few pix of Notre Dame in silence.  This beautiful, iconic building needs nothing from me:



















The Bridal Chamber frescoes, Andrea Mantegna



One of the two most enchanting places I have ever been is in the Bridal Chamber of the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua, Lombardy, Italy.  I won’t share my other top most favorite place here, but I will tell you it is a Renaissance room of about the same size somewhere in Tuscany and was painted by Benozzo Gozzoli.  

But recently in Mantua, I found Andrea Mantegna’s Cameral degli Sposi, and I fell in love. Again. I knew it would happen.

It was December and I was alone in this beautiful chamber, with time to study the details to my heart’s content.  I took about a million photos and I am sharing them here. 

Let’s start with a video:


I’m not even going to talk about the paintings, except to say that they –the 4 walls and the amazing ceiling– were frescoed by Andrea Mantegna  between 1465 to 1475.  Mantegna’s painted scheme creates an illusionistic space, as if the chamber was a loggia with three openings facing country landscapes among arcades and curtains. The painted scenes portray members of the Gonzaga family.

But, for once, that is all I will say with words.  My million photos will become this post. If you can get to Mantua, DO SO!










































Va bene, it’s time to look up:






















































Executed between 1465 and 1474, the room, which is entirely painted, shows the marquis, Lodovico, going about his courtly business with family and courtiers in tow in impressive 3D. Painted naturalistically and with great attention to perspective, the arched walls appear like windows on the courtly world – looking up at the Duke’s wife Barbara, you can even see the underside of her dress as if she’s seated above you. Most playful of all though is the trompe l’œil oculus featuring bare-bottomed putti (cherubs) – the point of view is quite distastefully realistic in places – balancing precariously on a painted balcony, while smirking courtly pranksters appear ready to drop a large potted plant on gawping tourists below.



The waterlilies of Claude Monet

Yesterday I saw the new film, The Waterlilies of Monet, at the Odeon theater in Florence.  I didn’t know much about the film, just that it featured Monet and his waterlily paintings.  That was enough to get me there.  I’m happy I saw it.

The film is a bit strange, part mystical, part historical.  I don’t think it will have wide appeal, but it appealed to me.  Here’s info from the press release, in first Italian and then a rough translation. And the film’s trailer.

Milano – Per soli tre giorni, il 26, 27 e 28 novembre, in esclusiva nei cinema LE NINFEE DI MONET. UN INCANTESIMO DI ACQUA E DI LUCE. Un percorso, narrato da Elisa Lasowski de Il trono di spade, che ci porta alla scoperta del più grande progetto pittorico di Claude Monet: le Grandes Décorations, le ninfee.

For just three days, on November 26th, 27th and 28th, exclusively at MONET’s WATERLILIES cinemas. A SPELL OF WATER AND LIGHT. A journey, narrated by Elisa Lasowski of The Game of Thrones, leads us on a discovery of Claude Monet’s greatest pictorial project: the Grandes Décorations, the water lilies.

Il film, prodotto da Ballandi Arts e Nexo Digital, condurrà il pubblico a Parigi, tra il Musée Marmottan, il Musée de l’Orangerie e il Musée D’Orsay, a Giverny con la Fondation Monet, la casa e il giardino dell’artista, e tra i magnifici panorami di Étretat. A guidare gli spettatori alla scoperta dei luoghi, delle opere e delle vicende del maestro, ci sarà Elisa Lasowski, attrice ne Il Trono di Spade, mentre la consulenza scientifica sarà affidata allo storico e scrittore Ross King, autore del best seller Il mistero delle ninfee. Monet e la rivoluzione della pittura moderna, edito in Italia da Rizzoli.

The film, produced by Ballandi Arts and Nexo Digital, takes the public from  Paris, between the Musée Marmottan, the Musée de l’Orangerie and the Musée D’Orsay, to Giverny with the Fondation Monet, the artist’s house and garden, and shows the magnificent views of Étretat. Guiding the audience’s discovery of the places, works and events of the master, is Elisa Lasowski, actress in The Game of Thrones, while the scientific advice will be entrusted to the historian and writer Ross King, author of the best seller The mystery of water lilies; Monet and the revolution of modern painting, published in Italy by Rizzoli.

Il grande progetto di Monet
Seguendo il percorso della Senna, il film prende le mosse da Le Havre, dove Monet trascorre il primo periodo della sua vita artistica, e risale il fiume verso gli altri paesi dove ha dimorato: Poissy, Argenteuil, Vétheuil, e infine Giverny. Qui, a 70 anni di età e ormai quasi cieco a causa della cataratta, mentre piovono le bombe della Prima Guerra Mondiale, Monet concepisce il progetto di dipinti di enormi dimensioni, nei quali lo spettatore possa immergersi completamente. Il soggetto, le sue amate nymphéas. Dopo dieci anni, nel Musée de l’Orangerie di Parigi, la sua speranza trova finalmente il giusto compimento, nelle magnifiche sale ovali da lui stesso disegnate. Nel maggio del 1927, l’amico George Clemenceau inaugura finalmente il museo dedicato alla Grand Décoration.

The great project by Monet
Following the route of the Seine, the film starts from Le Havre, where Monet spends the first period of his artistic life, and goes up the river to the other areas where he lived: Poissy, Argenteuil, Vétheuil, and finally Giverny. Here, at 70 years of age and now almost blind because of the cataract, while the bombs of the First World War are raining down, Monet conceives the project of paintings of enormous dimensions, in which the viewer can immerse himself completely. The subject, his beloved waterlilies. After ten years, in the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, his paintings find superb fulfillment, in the magnificent oval rooms he himself designed. In May 1927, his friend George Clemenceau finally inaugurated the museum dedicated to Grand Décoration.

Bernini, the film

I was fortunate enough to see the newly-released film, Bernini, in the Odeon Theatre in Florence this week.  OMG, it is fantastic.

The director of this beautiful guided tour through the Villa Borghese in Rome was directed by Francesco Invernizzi; Anna Coliva, Luigi Ficacci, and Andrea Bacchi are key presenters. Titolo originale: Bernini. Genere Documentario – Italia, 2018.


From the movie release, we are informed: La selezione di oltre 60 capolavori in esposizione alla Villa Borghese di Roma è stata definita dagli esperti di arte come il ritorno a casa di Bernini. A cinque secoli dalla nascita dei maestosi gruppi scultorei dell’artista, attraverso riprese inedite ed esclusive, i protagonisti di questa grande Mostra raccontano ed analizzano i dettagli delle opere giunte dai più prestigiosi musei del mondo per questa straordinaria occasione.

The selection of more than 60 masterworks on exhibition at the Villa Borghese in Rome has been defined by experts as a return to the home of Bernini. Five centuries after his  birth, we appreciate the majestic sculptural groups Bernini created, through the unprecedented and exclusive shots. Experts of this great exhibition recount and analyze the infinite details of the sculpture, with Bernini works borrowed from the most prestigious museums in the world for this extraordinary event.

“No artist defined 17th-century Rome more than Gian Lorenzo Bernini did, working under nine popes and leaving an indelible mark on the Eternal City. And there is probably no better place to appreciate his talent and genius than the Borghese Gallery in Rome, the villa — now a museum — built by his first patron, Cardinal Scipione Borghese, where Bernini revealed his talent for capturing tension and drama in stone. But during the remarkable exhibition titled “Bernini,” visiting may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” The New York Times