The Bargello is re-opened

It’s been a long wait, but today I got a ticket and visited the museum.  It was like going home.  And, the crowds were normal, like pre-Covid levels.  That was a bit comforting as well.

Today I took an idiosyncratic group of photos, and skipped taking pictures of the usual suspects that I love so much (Donatello, Desiderio da Settignano et al).  So, enjoy this random group.

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And now, I get a bit more serious with great artwork:

Michelangelo:

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Giambologna:

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Cellini:

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Chiesa di Sant’ Ignazio, Rome

With the plethora of churches in Rome, you might think it would be hard to have a favorite.  But, for me, The Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola at Campus Martius is my favorite.

It is a Roman Catholic titular church dedicated to Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus.

What I love about it is the ceiling fresco:

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The story of this incredible building and its surroundings begins with the gift, in 1560, from Vittoria della Tolfa, the Marchesa della Valle. She donated her family isola, which was an entire city block and its existing buildings, to the Society of Jesus in memory of her late husband the Marchese della Guardia Camillo Orsini. This was also the founding the Collegio Romano and the beginning of the building of a church with a different name from the one that is discussed in this post.

Although the Jesuits received the marchesa’s land, they did not get any funds from her for completing the church. They were able to build a church, but it would later be dismantled so that this current church could be built on the site and was used by the Collegio Romano. Over time, the old church became insufficient for over 2,000 students of many nations who were attending the College at the beginning of the 17th century.

Pope Gregory XV, who was a former student of the Collegio Romano, was strongly therefore attached to the church. Following the canonization of Ignatius of Loyola in 1622, he suggested to his nephew, Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, that a new church dedicated to the founder of the Jesuits should be erected at this site.

The young cardinal accepted the idea, asked several architects to draw plans, among them Carlo Maderno. Cardinal Ludovisi finally chose the plans drawn up by the Jesuit mathematician, Orazio Grassi, professor at the Collegio Romano itself.

The foundation stone was laid on August 2, 1626, four years later, a delay which was caused by the fact that a section of the buildings belonging to the Roman College had to be dismantled. The old church was eventually demolished in 1650 to make way for the massive Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola, which was begun in 1626 and finished only at the end of the century. In striking contrast to the earlier Church of the Annunciation, which occupied only a small section of the Collegio Romano, the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola took up a quarter of the entire block when it was completed.

The church was opened for public worship only in 1650, at the occasion of the Jubilee of 1650. The final solemn consecration of the church was celebrated only in 1722 by Cardinal Antonfelice Zondadari. The church’s entrance faces the Rococo Place of San Ignazio was planned by the architect Filippo Raguzzini.

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Andrea Pozzo, a Jesuit lay brother, painted the grandiose fresco that stretches across the nave ceiling (after 1685). The fresco celebrates the work of Saint Ignatius and the Society of Jesus in the world, presenting the saint welcomed into paradise by Christ and the Virgin Mary and surrounded by allegorical representations of all four continents.

Pozzo’s work seems to visually dissolve the actual surface of the nave’s barrel vault, arranging a perspectival projection to make an observer see a huge and lofty sky filled with floating figures.

A marble disk set into the middle of the nave floor marks the ideal spot from which observers might fully experience the illusion.

A second marker in the nave floor further east provides the ideal vantage point for the trompe l’oeil painting on canvas that covers the crossing and depicts a tall, ribbed and coffered dome. The cupola one expects to see here was never built and in its place, in 1685, Andrea Pozzo supplied a painting on canvas with a perspectival projection of a cupola. Destroyed in 1891, the painting was subsequently replaced.

Pozzo also frescoed the pendentives in the crossing with Old Testament figures: Judith, David, Samson, and Jaele.

Pozzo also painted the frescoes in the eastern apse depicting the life and apotheosis of St Ignatius. Pozzo is also responsible for the fresco in the conch depicting St. Ignatius Healing the Pestilent.

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It is, of course, the depiction of the American continent that delights me the most. I never tire of craning my neck to look up at this masterpiece.

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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!