Posts Tagged ‘Renaissance art’

Marco Caretlli in Studio Siena

Marco Caratelli in his studio

One a blustery March day, I was walking behind the Duomo of Siena. A small table with a gorgeous Renaissance style icon, presenting the location of an artisan’s studio, drew my attention.

Upon entering the workshop, the young gentleman introduced himself as Marco Caratelli. A small dog was curled up on a pillow in the corner. Heat created a welcomed respite from the fresh late winter weather.

The shelves of the small workshop were lined with extraordinarily beautiful icons; wings of angels, faces as if freshly taken from a Duccio di Buoninsegna work of the early Renaissance.

Marco graduated with an art degree from the University of Siena’s School of Art in 1998 and began his exploration of ancient techniques, now refined under his well experienced hand.

Marco Caretlli Icon Foil

Gold Foil after application

His dedication to keeping the art form alive is reflected in his commitment to using techniques outlined in Cennino Cennini’s Il Libro del Arte, early 14th Century studies of artists and the materials used to create early Renaissance panels and frescoes. Most of the wood types he uses, aged at least thirty years and specially selected for his purpose, are walnut, poplar or chestnut. Gesso or plaster is then applied to the wood. Twenty-four carat gold leaf follows on top of a layer of “bolo armenico”, a mixture of red clay and water.

Special tools, called punzoni or bulini, are used to create the incised patters which form the halos or other ornamentation on the icon.

Marco Caratelli Icon One

A completed work

When the time comes to paint, Marco uses only natural pigments and colors, following the traditions of the Renaissance iconists.

The texture of Italian culture is formed of many sources; food, wine, landscape, history, architecture, and art. When Marco’s hands touch aged wood, apply gesso, gold and paint inspired by centuries of artistic heritage he brings the past alive. At a time when we are driven by an unfounded need to have everything ‘now’, artists like Marco, their work and their passionate commitment to cultural memory are reminders of how we arrived to today and how we must keep the past alive.


In early April 2016, Marco travels to New  York City for an opening of his work titled, “Details”. This exhibit will be presented at the Ward-Nasse Gallery, 178 Prince Street, NY, NY 10012.

You can contact the gallery on +1.212.925.6951.

APRIL 8 – 17, 2016



The opening reception, April 9, 2016 from 4:00PM to 7:00PM offers the opportunity to meet Marco and view his historically important work.

If you cannot attend this exhibit, are next in Siena or wish to perhaps own one of his works, you can contact him on www.passatonelpresente.com.

You can find Marco, of a day when in Siena, at Via Monna Agnese 20. The street is located down the hill below the Baptistery entrance of the Siena Duomo.

For those who understand Italian, the link below is a recent interview with Marco from Siena TV.

Marco Caratelli-Siena TV


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St. Thomas detail


Florence. Not far from the Piazza San Marco, in the midst of one of but many, nameless, stucco walls is an unassuming aged wooden door. Those visitors headed to Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia delle Belle Arti  take little notice of such an ancient entrance. Were they to take a moment to enter, they would be rewarded with one of the rarely visited treasures of Florence, the refectory of the once Benedictine convent of Sant’Apollonia.

The convent, founded in 1339, is named for Apollonia who was martyred in Alexandria during an uprising in 249 A.D. She became the patron saint of dentists. Why? Her teeth were knocked out of her mouth before she voluntarily surrendered herself to the martyr’s flame.The iconography of her sacrifice is a single tooth, held in her hands by a set of pincers.

In contrast to the dark details of her death and the nondescript exterior of the building, the refectory provides a feast for the eyes.

In 1447 Andrea del Castagno received a commission from the Benedictine Prioress to paint a Last Supper (in Italian, Cenacolo) on the western wall of the refectory. Castango’s work harkens to the work of Leonardo da Vinci at the Convent of Santa Maria della Grazie in Milan. Leonardo is said to have studied Andrea’s work before beginning work on his Milan fresco in 1495.

Above the fresco of the Last Supper are three additional works by Castango; Crucifixion, Deposition and Resurrection. These three frescoes, whitewashed by the nuns of the convent in strict adherence to their order’s rules, were rediscovered in 1860. During the fresco’s 1952 restoration, these three smaller works were removed for cleaning, then returned to their intended position above the Last Supper.

Last Supper
Andrea del Castagno

Unlike the vast majority of frescoes in Florence, crowded and well known, the vast space of the refectory is rarely occupied by more than a few visitors. When the sun moves across the fresco in the mid-afternoon sun, the strokes of genius, carefully and lovingly applied by the artist, stand out from the work.

This is a quiet place to treasure in the midst of a city of crowds. Go, and marvel at Castangno’s luminous work.





Via XXVII Aprile 1 – Florence

Ph: +39 055 2388607

Entrance: FREE

Opening hours:
Sundays – 8:15 am-1:50 pm; open on the second and fourth Sunday of every month; the ticket office closes 30 minutes before the museum closing time.
Weekdays – 8:15 am-1:50 pm; open on the first, third and fifth Monday of every month; the ticket office closes 30 minutes before the museum closing time.
Closed: closed on the second and fourth Monday of the month; closed on the first, third and fifth Sunday of the month. December 25, January 1, May 1.

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Within the tightly controlled world of patronage during the post-Renaissance, women were largely ignored. Ignored, that is, until the arrival of an immensely talented artist.

Born in Rome to Orazio and Prudentia Monotone Gentileschi, Artemisia (b. 1593) grew in the shadow of her father’s fame as a painter. She would, during her lifetime, bring enormous changes to the world of art.

Judith Slaying Holofernes - Artemisia Gentileschi

Judith Slaying Holofernes – Artemisia Gentileschi

She studied with her father’s assistant and tutor, Agostino Tassi. In the midst of exposure to established artists like Michelangelo, she became embroiled in a rape case against her tutor. Vilified for her role in the trial, she was quickly married off to a Florentine painter, Pietro Stiatessi.  Her rise to fame, in the midst of the jealousies and political intrigues which plagued the art world of the Medici, is a story memorably told by Diane Vreeland in her historical fiction novel, The Passion of Artemisia.

The effect of the the untrue, lurid, details of the trial were forcefully expressed in her work, Judith Slaying Holofernes (1612-1613). The power in Judith’s hands as she beheads King Nebuchadnezzar is palpable. Within the canvas lie the expression of her emotions. I believe it is her tutor who is being slayed by an unjustly slandered Artemisia.

It was in 1616 that she was elected, as the first woman, to the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Florence, the Academy of Art. Grand Duke Cosimo II de Medici was her patron and his support must certainly have encouraged such well deserved recognition. Her career flourished under patronages granted across Europe. She eventually settled in Naples where she died in 1653.

Judith Slaying Holofernes hangs in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. As I stood before the canvas this morning, it occurred to me that the work could easily be an analogy of present day Italian life: Judith (Italy’s political leaders) cut themselves off from the much detested Euro and EU (Nebuchadnezzar) as her servant (Italian’s support) encourages the action. Though I doubt such will ever happen, my recent interpretation underscores the universality and timelessness of Artemisia’s work.

Uffizi Gallery Courtyard

Uffizi Gallery Courtyard

When you visit the Uffizi Gallery, please take time to pay homage to a ground breaking artist, one whose talents overcame the deeply prejudiced and male-dominated world of post-Renaissance art.

Artemisia shares space with Caravaggio in Room #5.

Some important notes about visiting the Uffizi follow.


Open Tuesday to Sunday 8:15 AM to 6:50 PM
Closed all Mondays, New Year’s Day, May 1st and Christmas Day. Full price ticket, without reservation fees or additional exhibits is € 6.50.

RESERVE your tickets in advance of your arrival. (The museum is CLOSED on Mondays). The tickets must be booked and paid for on line. UFFIZI TICKETS.

Tickets are issued for specific entrance times throughout the day. If you miss your entrance time by more than fifteen minutes, you may be denied entrance. Should you miss your entrance time, the only other option is to stand in the public entrance line. This may mean a wait of up to two hours.

There are two entrance doors to the Uffizi. If you have a voucher / receipt for pre reserved tickets, present that voucher at the ticket windows inside Door 3. This door is in the west wing of the museum, across the courtyard from the main entrance at Door 1. With tickets in hand, go back across the courtyard directly to Door 2 (near the public entrance at Door 1). This is where those with pre-reserved tickets may enter.

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