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Posts Tagged ‘Museums Florence’

In one word: GO!

Piazza_Santissima_Annunziata,_Florence

Piazza Santissima Annunziata

On June 24, 2016, the day of the annual Florentine celebration of the city’s patron saint John the Baptist, the ‘new’ Museum of the Innocents (Museo degli Innocenti) reopens after an extensive, nearly three year, restoration. The museum is located on the southeast side of the Piazza Santissima Annunziata at the end of the Via dei Servi, steps from the Piazza Duomo.

This restoration shares an intriguing variety of information, from the structure’s architectural history, its involvement with the guilds of Florence, the designs instituted by Filippo Brunelleschi (he of the famous Dome of the Duomo of Florence), to digitized video or audio interviews with seventy (70) people who were cared for at the Ospedale.

It was during the 15th Century that the Institute of the Orphans, Istituto degli Innocenti, was founded to support children and their families.

The children, born out of wedlock or unwanted, were brought without judgement or question to the Innocenti and were left in the exceptional hands of the Sisters who cared for these sventurati, the ‘unfortunates’.

FACCIATA

Architecturally, the building is  a stunner of early Renaissance architecture. Brunelleschi’s gorgeous loggia is bejeweled by works of babies in swaddling clothes created in the workshop of Andrea della Robbia. One of the the roundels, in blue and white ceramic, was selected to be the symbol of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Della Robbia - Innocenti

The museum contains records from the 15th Century onward, lists containing details of every child welcomed in to the Ospedale. The library also contains information regarding the children’s training and release into various programs during the Renaissance and beyond. From convents to monasteries, workshops of artists and sculptors as well as numerous other apprenticeships, the children raised in the Ospedale moved within, and beyond, the confines of Florence to become contributing members of society.

Today the Florentine phone book lists numerous families with the last name of Innocenti, a shadow of the institution’s significant impact on the life of the city.

The Istituto degli Innocenti is managed through a Board of Directors, all of whom are appointed by the Province of Florence. Their charter is to provide support for children in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The museum contains a library and resource center for the study of children’s care from the time of the Ospedale’s founding to today, even as seven ‘innocenti’ currently remain resident in the structure.

On the heels of the reopening of the Museo del Opera del Duomo in October 2015, this is yet another MUST VISIT when you are in bella Firenze.

Museo degli Innocenti/Istituto degli Innocenti

Open 10:00AM – 7:00PM Daily

Entrance Ticket: Euro 5.00

Piazza della Santissima Annunziata, 12
50122 FIRENZE
+39 055 20371

 

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Givovanni d"Ambrogio 15th Century Museum of the Works of the Duomo, Florence

Givovanni d’Ambrogio
15th Century
Museum of the Works of the Duomo, Florence

A recent incident with priceless art in Florence has me considering the easy access the world has to Florentine art.

While comparing his own hand to that of a 15th Century work by the Renaissance sculptor Giovanni d’Ambrogio, a visiting American surgeon broke one of the fingers off Ambrogio’s statue of the Virgin Mary. Tempers flared, threats made, waters calmed and the surgeon is, by this writing, on his way home or already home.

Hmmm . . .

What I have always shared with clients as we travel across Italy is that all of Italy is an open air museum. The temptation to touch a work of art is so strong, and the accessibility of those art works so open in museums, that such temptation proves too much for some.

In the Museum of the Works of the Duomo, only steps from where this American surgeon created such a stir, is Michelangelo’s Nicodemus Pieta, one of the last of the master’s works.

You can walk right up and, if you were so inclined, reach over a short railing and touch the master’s work.

This is not the first such incident with Florence’s art.

In August of 2005, a young Italian man under the substantial influence of alcohol accepted a bet from friends to climb the Fountain of Neptune (Amananti, 16th Century, called “biancone“) in the Piazza della Signoria. As he reached to pull himself up using Neptune’s left hand it came off. Video surveillance captured the incident and eventually the damage was paid for by the guilty party.

The Broken Finger

The Broken Finger

I feel badly for the surgeon that made this error, and at the same time am embarrassed about the incident.

Yes, there are many more important events occurring in our world these days. However, the attention that this incident has garnered underscores the commitment a civilized society places on its art.

Bottom line? When you are in museums anywhere, no less Florence, enjoy . . . but DON’T TOUCH!

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Michelangelo. It is a name that conjures images of paint strained eyes, of angry popes and of marble dust.

MichelangeloBacchus, 1496-1497

Michelangelo
Bacchus, 1496-1497

The Bacchus, an unusual and controversial work, was created by Michelangelo between 1496 and 1497, when the young artist was twenty years old.  The commission came from a rather unexpected source, that of Raffaele Sansoni Galeoti Riario, who became Cardinal Riario. Passionate about sculpture and, in particular his garden, Riario had commissioned the piece to add to his home sculpture garden in the Palazzo della Cancelleria in Rome.

Palazzo della Cancelleria

Palazzo della Cancelleria

An interesting side story to this commission. Riario was sold a sleeping cupid as a true piece of ancient Roman art. The connoisseurship of the Cardinal was widely known and he, eventually, discovered that the piece had been carved by Michelangelo. Upset though Riario may have been, he was also an astute businessman. It was his orders that brought Michelangelo to Rome where the artist worked for most of the remaining years of his life.

As the photo of the Cancelleria, the Chancellery of the Vatican, attests, Riario had enormous financial resources available to support his commissions.

Upon seeing the Bacchus, however, Riario’s reaction was not dissimilar to words penned by Percy Shelley many years later, “It looks drunken, brutal, and narrow-minded, and has an expression of dissoluteness the most revolting.”

Riario hated the work and refused to accept it. However, an associate of his at the Vatican, one Jacopo Galli, Riario’s banker, patron and friend of Michelangelo, paid for the commission and placed it in his private collection.

It was not until 1847 that the statue was transferred to Florence where it now resides in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence.

Bacchus, FaceMichelangelo

Bacchus, Face
Michelangelo

It is a strange work, to say the least. The expression of Bacchus, the asexual nature of his body, the posture of drunkenness he displays were all brilliant and intentional marks of a master artist. What offended Riario and what often offends people to this day is that the statue does not fit most people’s expectations of a god. Human in every aspect, with a grape-eating faun at this side, was – I believe – a not too indirect way for Michelangelo to portray his view of Riario as a person and, perhaps, the church in general.

Known to be exacerbating, difficult, unpredictably  emotional, the young sculptor may have seen this commission as a way of communicating his disdain for the patrons of his youth. It may have galled Michelangelo to know that a sleeping cupid had been the means by which orders came from Pope Julius II, one of Riario’s relatives, for the artist to report to Rome.

When you are in Florence, be sure to take a morning (see open hours below IF YOU GO) to explore the galleries in the Bargello Museum. The Ground floor gallery houses many pieces of remarkable sculpture, the Bacchus among them. The second floor galleries house Donatello’s David, works by the Della Robbia workshop and many other treasures of Renaissance art.

IF YOU GO:

Museo Nazionale el Bargello

Via del Proconsolo, 4

50122 Florence

Tel: +39.055.238.8606

Tickets: Euro 4.00 per person

Web: Bargello Firenze

Open Hours: Please note the very specific hours that the museum is open: 8:15AM – 1:50PM Daily with the exception of:

Closed, 1st, 3rd, 5th Sunday of the month, Closed 2nd and 4th Monday of the month and closed January 1, May 1, and December 25

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