Uffizi, part 3

A stroll through the almost empty galleries in late June 2020 afforded me a slow and enjoyable experience with some fabulous artworks in Florence.  Here’s what else (along with Michelangelo and Leonardo) caught my eye.

 

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Looking left:

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Looking right:

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Looking center.  I want this space to be my permanent home:

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I’m a fan of Ghirlandaio:

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Another Ghirlandaio:

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I cut my teeth as an art historian in the study of classical art, as seen through Neo-Classical eyes, like Canova and Thorvaldsen.  I’m always a sucker for these appealing classical sculptures:

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Hey, is that a Bronzino I see way up there? I think it’s a copy of the real thing, which is hanging in a gallery.

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Oh, Giotto.  I’ve missed you so.

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And Rosso Fiorentino, how lovely you are still:

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Pontormo had his own distinct ideas about how (everything) the Expulsion from the Garden of Eden must have appeared:

 

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Still more to come.

Uffizi, the Leonardo da Vinci gallery

My recent first trip back to the Uffizi allowed me to enjoy the famed museum without the usual crowds.  This is my idea of heaven.  Just look:

 

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Come with me into the new Leonardo da Vinci and Andrea del Verrochio gallery. Look at the blissful moment capture below, during which I had the gallery almost to myself.

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Andrea del Verrochio’s painting of the Baptism of Christ.  Verrochio’s student, Leonardo da Vinci, assisted in painting. Most notably, the far left angel.

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Leonardo’s Annunciation in a virtually empty gallery. My idea of heaven.

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More to come from my June 25, 2020 visit.

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.

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Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo:

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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.

 

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Raphael’s Madonna of the Goldfinch:

 

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

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Raphael: Portrait of Elisabetta Gonzaga, 1503-06.

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

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

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

 

 

Palazzo Vecchio (June 2020) Part 2

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

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

 

 

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

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The sink is in this elaborate niche:

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

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Below: the death mask of Dante:

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An amazingly elaborate reliquary:

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Next up, the elaborate Audience Chamber:

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Here’s the ceiling:

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

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Donatello’s Judith and Holofernes:

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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.

 

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Il Salone dei Cinquecento:

 

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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:

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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