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Archive for the ‘Italian artists’ Category

During some recent research on the background of Doménikos Theotokópoulos, called El Greco in his most productive years, I came across a rather startling similarity in Pontormo’s Visitation and that of El Greco.

Take a look:

the-visitation

El Greco 1610 – Dumbarton Oaks

pontormo3

Pontormo 1529- San Michele in Carmignano

Note the position of Elizabeth’s left foot, the figure on the right in both paintings, as well as the positions of the left and right hands in greeting. Given that El Greco’s work post dates that of Pontormo by some eight-one years, I believe that El Greco was significantly inspired by the earlier master.

In a blog about the “Mask of Pontormo” , published some time ago, I discussed a curious visual style to the scarf that en wraps Mary’s head. I still believe Pontormo’s eyes saw more than any other of us might see in his work.

Perhaps that is also true of El Greco, particularly in another of his works about which I will write another blog, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.

Stay tuned.

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Michelangelo. (1475 – 1564)

His is a name iconic, one that defines the creative genius of the Renaissance. While David, the “Prisoners”, the glory of the Sistine Chapel and innumerable other works have come to define this man’s tactile artistic contributions to western culture, he was also a remarkable poet.

Michelangelo Aged

Michelangelo Etching, English, 1874

In the course of his eighty-nine year life, he composed over 300 sonnets and madrigals. The structure of his poetry was centered upon three ideals: the love of Christ, love of Florence and love of beauty. (See Sonnets of Michelangelo,Symonds, 1878, page xix.)

For decades there has been a great deal of discussion within academic circles about the homoerotic nature of Michelangelo’s writing.

Some background:

In 1623, the artist’s grandnephew, Michelangelo the Younger, published the first edition of the sonnets. Much of the controversy that swirls around that earlier edition is based upon changes discovered in the course of John Addington Symond’s 1878 translations: the “Younger” changed the gender of the maestro’s passions from male to female. Times being what they were in the early 17th century, those changes can perhaps be more clearly understood.

In his introduction to the 1878 rhymed translation of the sonnets, Symonds addresses those changes and the perspective of the artist:

“Nothing is more clear than that Michael Angelo (sic) worshiped Beauty in the Platonic spirit, passing beyond its personal and specific manifestations to the universal and impersonal. This thought is repeated over and over again in his poetry; and if we bear in mind that he habitually regarded the loveliness of man or woman as a sign and symbol of eternal and immutable beauty, we shall feel it of less importance to discover who it was that prompted him to this or that poetic utterance.” (See Symonds, Introduction, Page xviii).

The earlier sonnets address topics as diverse as Dante, life, love, religion, art, Pope Julius II, the people of Prato and other matters of interest. The variety of his observations are uniquely intriguing, particularly as insights into other contemporary artists or those who commissioned Buonarotti’s work.

Those observations changed over time.

Nicodemus Pieta

Nicodemus Pieta, Michelangelo, 1547 – 1555

In the latter years of his life, Michelangelo’s words turn introspective. He reflects on the span of his life and the journey that brought him to older age. In deference to Michelangelo’s Nicodemus Pieta in the Museum of the Works of the Duomo in Florence, this sonnet (below) is printed in gold on the walls which face the Pieta in the newly restored museum.
On the Brink of Death
To Giorgio Vasari
Sonnet LXV

The course of my life has brought me now
Through a stormy sea, in a frail ship,
To the common port where, landing
We account for every deed, wretched or holy.

So that finally I see
How wrong the fond illusion was
That made art my idol and my King,
Leading me to want what harmed me.

My amorous fancies, once foolish and happy
What sense have they now that I approach two deaths
The first of which I know is sure, the second threatening.

Let neither painting nor carving any longer calm
My soul turned to that divine Love
Who to embrace us opened His arms upon the cross.

 

Though he worked on one other pieta in his later years, the Rondanini Pieta in the Castello Sforzesco in Milan, the Nicodemus Pieta is a physical representation of Michelangelo’s melancholy musings on life and death.
When you visit the Museum of the Works of the Duomo in Florence, please take some time to sit in the chamber reserved solely for the display of the Nicodemus Pieta, and give thought to yet another surprising facet of Michelangelo’s gifts.
Details:
Symond’s rhymed translation, in full, can be read at this link, The Sonnets of Michel Angelo Buonarotti

Address: Piazza del Duomo, 9, 50122 Firenze, Italy

Hours: 9:00AM – 7:30PM  Daily

Entrance: Euro 15.00 pp (Adult)

Pre Purchase tickets on line: Cumulative Entrance Ticket (Duomo, Museum, Campanile, Baptistery, Crypt and Dome)

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Santa Maria Nuova Facade

As of December 15, 2015, those who seek an opportunity to discover an incredible collection of art in Florence now have a wonderful option: the Ospedale Santa Maria Nuova. This, the oldest hospital in Florence, now offers guided visits to some of is vast collection of treasures.

Arcispedale_di_santa_maria_nuova,_affreschi_di_antonio_pomarancio,_1614,_strage_degli_innocenti

Fresco by Antonio Pomarancio – 1614

The hospital was founded in 1288 by the father of Dante’s beloved Beatrice, Folco Portinari. He was asked to build the edifice after being approached by the matriarch of the founder’s family, Monna Tessa.

 

Over the centuries, donations have been made to the hospital in thanks for the care and service provided to various families.The rich variety of art  include works by Pietro di Niccolò Gerini, Andrea del Castagno, Della Robbia, Bernardo Buontalenti, and Pomarancio. Visits to this complex offer visitors rare glimpses of an invaluable, little-known, collection of renaissance treasures.

213-483px-Del_Castagno_Andrea_Crucifixion_and_Saints

Andrea del Castango, Crucifixion with Saints

Architecturally, the beauty of the structures, interior arches and various vast superb rooms with ceilings covered in frescoes, add yet another dimension to your visit.

Your visit to Santa Maria Nuova takes you through  many places of historical and artistic interest; the entrance to the area dedicated to Spedalinghi Hospital and the ” Hall of Crosses “, the cloisters of the ” Medicherie ” and ” Bones ” as well as the Church of Sant’Egidio , with its adjoining women’s gallery which once was the area reserved for nuns to attend religious services

In order to visit the Osepdale, you will need to contact them directly through the links below. Tours are organized with no more than twenty in a group, and are always lead by a guide so that the privacy of patients is observed and the size of groups well controlled.

To arrange your visit, here are details:

Address: Piazza Santa Maria Nuova, 1, 50122 Firenze, Italy

Visits last 40 to 50 minutes and groups can be no larger than 20. A professional guide always accompanies the group.

Reservation number, exclusively for these tours:  055 20.01.586
Tours are available to schedule from 9.00 – 13.00 / 14.00 – 18.00
Saturday, 9.00 – 13.00
Email: info@exclusiveconnection.it

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Catalog Cover Mandragola Press Pantormo e Rosso Fiorentino

Catalog Cover
Mandragora Press
Pantormo e Rosso Fiorentino

A few days ago I had the opportunity to visit an extraordinary exhibition at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino, Diverging Paths of Mannerism, explores the development of mannerist painters who, born in same year, 1494, were trained under the guidance of Andrea del Sarto.

The exhibition, in addition to numerous canvases, shows work by all three artists by means of frescoes removed from walls and placed, with tremendous care, within the palazzo. The construction of the show permits visitors extraordinarily close up access to these masterworks.

The show highlights critically important paintings and frescoes. From Rosso’s hands are works such as San Paolo in Carcere/St. Paul in Prison and Morte di Cleopatra/The Death of Cleopatra. From Pontormo’s hand are works such as the Ritratto di Giovanetto/Portrait if a Young Man and what many consider to be his masterpiece, The Visitation (seen on the cover of the show’s catalog, above).

I left the palazzo very moved by the beauty of the work, the dedication shown by those responsible for mounting such an exhibit and most importantly stunned by the beauty of the work.

I will be posting further observations about the work, in particular, of Pontormo in a future post.

If you are in Florence this summer, and you are these before July 20, 2014, GO!

 

Palazzo Strozzi

Piazza Strozzi
50123 FIRENZE

Opening hours including holidays

Open daily 9.00 am – 8.00 pm
Thursdays 9.00 am -11.00 pm
Visitors admitted up to one hour before exhibition closes

Tickets; Euro 10.00 regular admission

Reduced admission is available for certain qualifying visitors

Reservations
Monday to Friday
9.00-13.00; 14.00-18.00
Tel. +39 055 2469600
Fax +39 055 244145
prenotazioni@palazzostrozzi.org

Pontormo-e-Rosso-Fiorentino-Palazzo-Strozzi-Firenze-10 Pontormo-e-Rosso-Fiorentino-Palazzo-Strozzi-Firenze-7 Pontormo-e-Rosso-Fiorentino-Palazzo-Strozzi-Firenze-2

 

 

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News that the Museo del Opera del Duomo (Museum of the Works of the Duomo) in Florence is closed for over a year for an expansive restoration has been met with mixed reviews. The new museum will nearly triple the old museum’s size and will include a full scale replica of the facade of Florence’s first Duomo, Santa Reparata. The North/South and East doors of the Baptistery – the original panels, that is – will also be placed on display in the new spaces of the museum for all to enjoy. Concurrently, the Baptistery exterior is undergoing extensive renovation, to include the replacement of all of the original door panels with copies.

It is  a bit sad, and disappointing to the thousands how will visit Florence over the next year,  to think that the Nicodemus Pieta, Donatello’s Magdalene and the Della Robbia – Donatello Choir lofts, along with numerous other treasures of Renaissance art,  will not be seen again until the fall of 2015 when the museum is scheduled to reopen. Architect Rendering Museum of the Works of the Duomo

There are, however,  numerous options for visitors to experience the art of the Renaissance in Florence; the Uffizi, the Bargello Museum, the Museo di Firenze com’era, and – until 20 July 2014 – an extraordinary exploration of the art of Rosso Fiorentino and Pontormo at the Palzzzo Strozzi. (More on that in another post).

So…if you wish to visit the treasures residing in the Museum of the Works of the Duomo, enjoy Florence this summer and come back in the fall of 2015 to celebrate what promises to be an incredible reopening.

Architectural Section
Museum of the Works of the Duomo – 2015

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It was during a recent visit to the Alte Pinakothek in Munich that I encountered The Annunciation by an artist whose name I did not recognize: Fra Carnevale.

Portrait Fra Carnevale 1470 Artist Unknown

Portrait Fra Carnevale
1470
Artist Unknown

My curiosity was roused and I began to research this little known, reclusive, Renaissance artist.

Between the years 1420 and 1425, records are scarce; a child by the name of Bartolomeo di Giovanni Corradini was born in the city of Urbino. Little is known of his childhood. At the age of sixteen, he entered an apprenticeship under the guidance of a respected artist from Ferrara, Antonio Alberti. With the encouragement and connections of his master, the twenty year old Corradini moved to Florence in 1445 and, for one year, studied under Fillipo Lippi, one of the finest painters of his age. 

While Corradini’s apprenticeship in Florence was but one year long, he studied works by Donatello, Brunelleschi and Battista Alberti. It was during the apprenticeship that his fascination with architectural perspective began.

In the latter part of 1448, he left Florence and returned to Urbino.

Here is some important historical background about Carnevale’s home city.

Between the years 1444 and 1482 Urbino was controlled by a powerful condottieri, Federico di Montefeltro. From within the walls of Palazzo Ducale in Urbino, Federico assembled one of the finest libraries in Renaissance Italy. His interest in art and the creation of a center for learning, caused him to issue numerous artistic commissions across Italy.

Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple Fra Carnevale, Circa 1467

Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple
Fra Carnevale, Circa 1467

The Dominican order in Urbino was centered in the Church of Santa Maria della Bella. It was amidst the convolutions of power, politics and religion that Federico first encountered Fra Carenvale, who had taken the Dominican vows in 1449.

One of Carnevlale’s earliest works, part of an altarpiece for a church in Urbino, is Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple (Circa 1467). This particular work clearly demonstrates Carnevale’s fascination with perspective. The powerful arch and background of his work nearly overpower the figures in the foreground. An interesting side-note about the work is that the shape of the altarpiece is recognizable at the top of the painting. The two figures that surmount the arch were originally the edges of the painting’s frame.

One other work stands out among the many created by Carnevale: The Ideal City (ca 1480 – 1485). This was one of several commissions by Duke Federico di Montefeltro of Urbino for his palace.

In a long rectangular frame, the artist has created a sterile, balanced and bleak study of a city. Perspectives are finely focused, the four Cardinal Virtues of Justice, Prudence, Temperance (Restraint) and Courage (Fortitude), top four columns near the center of the work.

Why the artist chose to include only twenty-one figures in the work remains a mystery. There is a sterility to the painting. While the scene is balanced in its geometric form, the work exudes no warmth, no emotion. Were the intent to replicate Carnevale’s interpretation of an ideal world, one based on Roman concepts of balance and form, then the artist has well succeeded. This work does show a clear retreat from the emotion demonstrated in his 1467 work of the Virgin and Temple, possibly in reaction to his ascetic and withdrawing life in the Dominican order.

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5c/Fra_Carnevale_-_The_Ideal_City_-_Walters_37677.jpg

The Ideal City
Fra Carnevale
ca. 1480-1485

The three panels in Carnevale’s only polyptych (altar piece with three or more panels) have been dispersed across Italy. Visitors can view one panel each in the Pinacoteca di Brera and the Pinactoteca Ambrosiana. The third panel is in the province of Le Marche Italy, in Loreto’s Museum of the Holy House.

This elusive and little understood artist created numerous works that remain enigmatic gifts to the world of Renaissance art. He is much worthy of more study. 

Following is a partial list of his known works and current collections:

Birth of the Virgin, Metropolitan Museum New York

Annunciation, National Gallery, Washington, DC

Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple, Boston, Museum of Fine Arts

 

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Agnolo Bronzion The Brazen Serpent, Fresco Chapel of Elenora of Toldeo Palazzo Vecchio

Agnolo Bronzino
The Brazen Serpent, Fresco
Chapel of Eleanora of Toledo
Palazzo Vecchio

Hidden surprises await!

Imagine a Renaissance artist tracking progress on his fresco’s by writing notes on the frame of a door. Such is the case in one of the most underrated and least visited of Florence’s architectural treasures, the Ponte Vecchio.

Built as the seat of government for the city, the palace was completed in 1299. Its history, alone, is a fascinating overview of the city’s political challenges – a topic for another article.

Located upstairs on the main level of Palazzo is a jewel of a chapel created for Eleonora of Toledo, wife of the first grand duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I. Commissioned by Cosimo I, Agnolo Bronzino (he of much fame, including his incredible Martyrdom of St. Lawrence in the Medici family church of San Lorenzo), the chapel is an oft overlooked treasure. Cosimo favored the work by Bronzino and commissioned portraits of himself and Eleonora as well as his children.

After Bronzino completed the large fresco on the south wall, The Crossing of the Red Sea and Moses Anointing Joshua, he began work on The Brazen Serpent. He created the fresco while working around an extant door (see photo above) within the chapel.

As he worked, he recorded what I call diary notes about start and stop dates on his frescoes. On the upper right and left door frames of this doorway are the following notes, written by the master:

On the upper right door frame: (“/” indicate new line on the door frame)

Martedi/A di 6/di Sett/bre [1541]/

comincio/lastoria di/

faraone/A di 30 di/

Marzo/1542 fu fin[i]/

la lastai [a] di farone/lunedi adi

5/di giunio 154[2]/comincino/lastoria/delle se’pe

TRANSLATION: On Tuesday 6 September [1541] the story of the pharaoh was begun; on 30 march a542 the story of the pharaoh was completed. On Monday 5 June 154[2] the story of the serpent was begun.

On the left upper door frame:

A di 15../fins la [sto]/ria d’aq’ua

TRANSLATION: On the 15th…the story of the water was completed.

Within the chapel, Bronzino and his apprentices completed the Crossing of the Red Sea and Moses appointing Joshua, as well as the Brazen Serpent, hence the master’s reference to the ‘water’ and the ‘pharaoh’.

Yet another surprise, a note written in the middle 16th Century by a Renaissance master about his work. If you are able to visit the Palazzo Vecchio during a visit to Florence, be sure to stop by the door in the Chapel of Eleanora of Toledo…and be surprised.

IF YOU GO:

Palazzo Vecchio

Piazza della Signoria, Florence

Tickets:

Museum only: Euro 6.50 per person

Tower only: Euro 6.50 per person

Museum and Tower: Euro 10.00 per person

Please note below that you can also climb the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, though the hours are significantly reduced from the full museum hours.

April/May/June/July/
August/September
Every day except for Thursday: 9 a.m. – Midnight
Thursday: 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Following days are included: 1 April, 1 may, 2 and 24 June, 15 august
October
Every day except for Thursday: 9 a.m.- 7 p.m.
Thursday: 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Exceptionally the museum will be open:
13-28-29-30-31 October: 9 a.m. – Midnight
November
Every day except for Thursday: 9 a.m.- 7 p.m.
Thursday: 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Exceptionally the museum will be open:
1-2-3-10 November: 9 a.m. – Midnight
December
Every day except for Thursday: 9 a.m.- 7 p.m.
Thursday: 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Exceptionally the museum will be open:
7-8-22-23-26-27-28-29-30 December: 9 a.m. – Midnight
(Closed on Christmas Day)

The TOWER of the Palazzo Vecchio:

Summer opening time:
1st April – 30th September
Mon/Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat/Sun
9 – 21   (no admission after 20.30)

Thursday
9 – 14    (no admission after 13.30)

Winter opening time:
1st October – 31st march
Mon/Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat/Sun
10 – 17    (no admission after 16.30)
Thursday
10 – 14      (no admission after 13.30)

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