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.

Donatello, Verrochio and Michelangelo at the Palazzo Vecchio; 3 master Florentine sculptors

In this imposing, Medieval Florentine city hall,

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Reside 3 works by master sculptors of the Italian Renaissance:

First, The Genius of Victory by Michelangelo

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Andrea Verrochio is up next, with his wonderful Putto with a Dolphin:

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And, thirdly, Donatello.  He is one of all-time favorite artists and this sculpture, Judith and Holofernes, is one of his masterpieces. It resides in this gorgeous room.  You can see it on its pedestal to the right.

 

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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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Museo Bardini has re-opened in Florence

And I paid a visit.  It was not like the old days, where you could wander at will, which is very sad.  Now they have a “percorso” or path, which you have to follow and they have guards in every room watching you like a hawk.  It didn’t feel like they were watching out for Covid.  It felt like they thought I was going to damage or steal the art.  I didn’t care for it.  Plus, I was one of 3 visitors.  I mean, really?

Despite my complaints, the museum is still a wonderful place with a fascinating collection. It is one of my favorite museums in Florence.  Here are a few of my favorite things:

 

 

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The unusual sculpture above, showing a woman breast feeding 2 children at once, is explained in the label above.

 

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Here’s some info about the collector for whom the museum is named:

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And here are some of his eclectic objets:

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It’s official.  My new favorite art form is medieval sculpture.  I mean, look at the examples above and below.  Did you ever see a sweeter angel above?

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And, above, check out the lion caryatid figure.  Notice that he has a poor ram pinned below his feet, for all eternity.  The poor ram.  I love the primitive charm of these sculptures!

 

 

When I backtracked to take a picture of this gorgeous Renaissance doorway was when I knew my visit yesterday was not going to be the carefree affair of the olden days.  A mean, older woman reprimanded me for taking a few steps back towards where I had come from (although how you would notice the far side of the doorway you are walking through is beyond me), cackling at me that you must follow the path forward (I saw no signs showing me the path ahead either).

But, forget about her…look at the sumptuous doorway.  Wow.  What it must have felt like to use such casings.

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Going upstairs, like a good girl, I arrived in the room for which I had come.  I could spend hours in this gallery, if they would turn on all of the lights and get rid of the guards acting like I was going to damage the artworks.

 

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Donatello’s Madonna and Child with the Apple

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Donatello’s Madonna and Child, known as the Madonna and the Ropemakers:

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And then there are the cassone, or the wooden chests (like a hope chest for an aristocratic Italian woman), that Bardini collected.  If they would turn on the lights in the gallery and let me get close to the works, I would be in heaven.  As it is, I’m halfway to heaven, just looking at the furniture and thinking about the girls/women whose lives they represent.

 

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And then there are the cornice: the incredible frames that Bardini collected. Any American art museum would give eye teeth for one of these marvelous frames.

 

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Moving into another gallery, I pass through another sumptuous doorway casing:

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Beautiful painted crucifixes were also collected by Bardini.  Below them, more cassone.

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I could spend a day in this museum just studying the ceilings:

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Or the Sienese sculpture:

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Below, you might think you are looking at a rug on a floor, but it is a ceiling:

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Upon leaving my favorite galleries, I go down this stairway, lined with rugs hung on walls.  Very effective.

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What a collection.  Despite the guards, I love this museum!

La Foce

La Foce, or “the mouth” of the Orcia river, in the beautiful Val d’Orcia, Toscana.  If there is a more beautiful place on earth, I’ve yet to find it.

Created by Iris Origo and her husband, this incredible formal Italian garden is set amidst the rugged Crete senesi.  This was my second visit, but I know there will be more visits in the future.  Last time I was there, it was late summer and the earth and foliage was rather brown. This time, after the rains we have been getting, it was vibrantly green.  It is beautiful in any season.

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https://www.lafoce.com/it/

 

The Pazzi Chapel at Santa Croce

Part 6 of my recent visit to the magnificent Franciscan basilica of Santa Croce. You can find the other posts here.

Check out Santa Croce from the front.  I wonder how long we can enjoy the city before the tourists return? Not sure, but I am enjoying every second of the city in its current, quieter state.

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When you leave the interior of the church, walking into the cortile, you immediately see the splendid Pazzi Chapel.  The chapel wasn’t accessible yet when I was there, but even a look from the outside is enough to calm the soul.

 

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The Pazzi is seen in the plan below; note the circle in the plan and that’s the chapel. You can see how the green lawn in front sets it off.  Green grass is a rare commodity in Florence.

 

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Santa Croce, Part 5, June 2020

We have finally reached the final stretch of my recent visit to Santa Croce.  For the past few days, I have posted similarly on other parts of the church (you can find the posts here).

First, this tomb commemorating Rossini:

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Next up is one of the masterpieces of Santa Croce.  It is the tomb for Leonardo Bruni, created by Bernardo Rossellino:

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Then, the creme de la creme of sculpture in all of the Renaissance, in my humble opinion.  I adore this monument by Donatello.

 

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Moving further along towards the western end of the side aisle, we arrive at Canova’s tomb to Alfieri. I used to swoon for Canova and Neoclassicism.  I still like this sculptural work.

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And Dante, who was exiled and whose body is preserved in Ravenna.  In the 19th century he was given this cenotaph in the celebrity burial place of Florence, Santa Croce.

 

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I love the way the couple is admiring this monument in these pictures.

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And then, of course, there is the tomb for Michelangelo, created by Vasari.

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And, upon leaving (or entering) the basilica, the font with holy water for the faithful is perhaps the most beautifully wrought example of its kind:

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Niccolini tomb on the western wall, between 2 portals.

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