Palazzo Davanzati and Elia Volpi

One of my favorite places in Florence is the Palazzo Davanzati. One look at one of the rooms in the palazzo will show you why I love it.  I visited it on my very first trip to Florence, almost 40 years ago.  It hasn’t changed one bit, except maybe it is even better now with more didactic info available.



We have the art dealer, Elia Volpi (1858–1938), to thank for having saved the Palazzo as it appears today.  In Florence, Volpi is known as the “father” of the Museum of the Old Florentine House in Palazzo Davanzati, as he was responsible for restoring the building and turning it into a private museum in 1910.




Now the museum, on via Porta Rossa, is opening its “Homage to Elia Volpi the Painter” exhibition, which offers the chance to discover a lesser-known side of the illustrious collector and antiquarian, that is, to see him as an artist.



Volpi trained at Florence’s Academy of Fine Arts. The current exhibition focuses on his training and the paintings he produced from the 1870s through the 1890s, with examples of his sketches and finished paintings, mostly in pristine condition.  All of these works have been donated to the museum from private collections.

Volpi’s sketches are testament to his studies of the Italian Renaissance masters and, along with the male nudes, show off the early artistic skills of a young Volpi.

The paintings demonstrate his broad range; during the 1880s he explored church scenes before concentrating on the subjects and style of the Macchiaioli and more contemporary artists such as Francesco Gioli and Niccolò Cannicci.


The show also includes a multimedia section featuring a video that focuses on the artist’s personal life and a touch-screen panel with photographs that demonstrate the creation of the museum.


The exhibition is open from May 6 to August 5 in the Palazzo Davanzati Museum.


The source of this info comes from:

Doris Day and Edith Head, and oh yeah, Alred Hitchcock and Jimmie Stewart

These principals all came together in The Man Who Knew Too Much.

They created movie magic at its finest.  Time travel back to 1956. American surgeon, Dr. McKenna (Jimmie Stewart) takes his wife (Doris Day) and young son to visit Morocco, for he had been there, serving in North Africa during WWII.  They literally stumble into all kinds of espionage and trouble in Marrakesh, and their son is kidnapped in the process.

Alfred Hitchcock directed this classic film and Edith Head made this sketch of a beautiful suit for Doris Day to wear in the critical parts of the movie.




The suit seen above, without the stole, was realized in gray silk and Miss Day wears the suit throughout the second half of the film, during which she is seen in Albert Hall in London, as well as in the Embassy of some unspecified but critical country.  Her kidnapped son had been taken to London and she and Mr. Stewart are there to find him.

I loved the movie and highly recommend it.  Here are the lead actors and the director:



And here is the poster advertising the film.




Sumptuous textiles and Leonardo in Renaissance Florence


Leonardo had a fascination with curly hair. His own hair, as one early biographer attests, was long and curly, and his beard “came to the middle of his breast, and was well-dressed and curled.”  He evidently took pride in his appearance.

Besides his well-dressed hair and curled beard, he had a taste for colorful clothing. Florence was renowned for its luxurious textiles— silks and brocades with names like rosa di zaffrone (pink sapphire) and fior di pesco (peach blossom). But most of these exotic fabrics were exported to the harems of Turkey because sumptuary laws— regulations against ostentatious dress— meant Florentines necessarily favored more sober colors. Not so Leonardo, whose wardrobe in later life, an audacious mix of purples, pinks, and crimsons, flouted the dictates of the fashion police.


One list of his clothes itemized a taffeta gown, a rose-colored Catalan gown, a purple cape with a velvet hood, a coat of purple satin, another of crimson satin, a purple coat of camel hair, dark purple hose, dusty-rose hose, black hose, and two pink caps.

King, Ross (2012-10-30). Leonardo and the Last Supper (p. 26). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.


Florence had a thriving cloth industry, and Leonardo designed numerous machines for the textile trade, such as hand looms, bobbin winders, and a needle-making machine that he calculated would produce forty thousand needles per hour and revenues of a mind-boggling sixty thousand ducats per year. All of these inventions he no doubt hoped would find their place in Florentine industry. In about 1494 he drew plans for a weaving machine, and in the same pages he outlined a project for a canal by which, he claimed, Florence’s Guild of Wool Merchants could transport their goods through Tuscany and, by extracting revenues from other users of the canal, boost their profits in the process. These pursuits reveal the breadth of Leonardo’s interests, the scope of his ambitions, and the depth of his conviction that there was no task that could not be improved through technology and invention. None of his plans seems, however, to have tempted the hardheaded merchants of Florence.

King, Ross (2012-10-30). Leonardo and the Last Supper (p. 119). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.