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AUGUSTUS J.C. HARE, FLORENCE
CHAPTER IV: THIRD EXCURSION: THE NORTH-WESTERN QUARTER
COMPARE WITH SEPIA III:
The Via Tornabuoni, named from the great family of which a daughter, Camilla Lucrezia, was the mother of Lorenzo the Magnificent, is the gayest and handsomnest street in Florence, where the best clubs, bookshops and caffés are, and where the most beautiful flowers are sold at the street corners.
Via Tornbuoni is charming, and merits to be observed for the ensemble it offers of the contemporary Florentine expression, with its alluring shops, its confectioners and cafés, its florists and milliners, its dandies and tourists, and, ruggedly massing up out of their midst, the mighty bulk of the old Strozzi Palace, mediaeval, sombre, superb, tremendously impressive of the days when really a man's house was his castle. Everywhere in Florence the same sort of contrast presents itself in some degree, but nowhere quite so dramatically as here. W.D. Howells. Tuscan Cities.Ascending the street, we pass, on the right, the magnificent Palazzo Strozzi, begun in 1489 for the merchant Filippo Strozzi, from designs of Benedetto da Majano, which were continued by Il Cronaca. The palace is faced with rough-hewn stone, which, instead of detracting from, gives, by contrast, an appearance of extra finish to the details. At the corners are beautiful specimens by Caparrà of the iron fanale, which were only allowed to the most distinguished citizens.
The flowers they sell on the stone bench round its old wall, underneath the huge irons in which flags have flaunted and torches burned for hundreds of years on triumphal occasions - the sheaves of lily of the valley, white lilac, white narcissus, already abundant and scenting all the air in the first cold days of April - some scarcely more evanescent that the crowd of men and women who have blossomed and passed and gone into darkness while the old wall has stood fast, without getting so much as a wrinkle or line chiselled by age upon its rugged stones. - Blackwood, DCCV.
The interior of the palace (shown only on Wednesdays from 11 to 1) is a handsome specimen of a noble Florentine residence. The best of the beautiful objects it contained have been dispersed, including the noble bust of Marietta Palla Strozzi by Desiderio da Settignano, and the portrait of the daughter of Roberto Strozzi ('La Puttina'), painted by Titian and extolled by Aretino. Both of these treasures are now at Berlin.
Perhaps the most satisfactory of the Florentine palaces, as a whole and complete design, is the Strozzi, designed by Cronaca (1454-1509). It is a rectangle, 190 feet by 138; like all the rest, in three stories measuring together upwards of 100 feet in height. The cornice that crowns the whole is not so well designed as that of the Riccardi, but extremely well proportioned to the bold simple building which it crowns, and the windows of the two upper stories are elegant in design, and appropriate to their situation. It may be that this palace is too massive and too gloomy for imitation; but, taking into account the age when it was built, and the necessity for security combined with purposes of state to which it was to be applied, it will be difficult to find a more faultless design in any city of modern Europe, or one which combines so harmoniously local and social characteristics with the elegance of classical details, a conjunction which has been practically the aim of almost every guilding of modern times, but very seldom so successfully attained as in this example. - Fergusson.
The preparations for the building of this Casa Grande were made with great caution, lest it should seem that a work too magnificent for a private citizen was being undertaken: in particular, Filippo so contrived that the costly opus rusticum employed in the construction of the basement should appear to have been forced upon him. This is characteristic of Florence in the days of Cosimo. The foundation-stone was laid in the morning of August 16, 1489, at the moment when the sun arose above the summits of the Casentino. The hour, prescribed by astrologers as propitious, had been settled by the horoscope; masses meanwhile were said in several churches, and alms distributed. - Symonds, Renaissance in Italy.
Les palais des familles principales de Florence sont bâtis comme des espèces de forteresses, d'ou l'on pouvait se défendre; on voit encore à l'extérieur les anneaux de fer auxquels les étandards de chaque parti devaient etre attachés; enfin, tout y est arrangé bien plus pour maintenir les forces individuelles que pour les réunir toutes dans l'interêt commun. On dirait que la ville est bâtie pour le guerre civile. Madame de Staël, Corinne.
Mino da Fiesole. Bust of Niccolò Strozzi.
Donatello. Statuette of S. John Baptist - absurdly old for one who must have died at thirty-two.
Filippino Lippi. The Annunciation.
Leonardo da Vinci. A most beautiful portrait of a female Strozzi, in a black dresss and pearl necklace, holding a book - the background green.
Pallajuolo. Portrait of the murdered Giuliano de' Medici, taken after death,
Sustermanns. Giovanni Battista Strozzi, with his wife (a Martelli) and children.
Andrea del Sarto. Small Holy Family.
Perugino. The Garden of Gethsemane - very beautiful, but the angel unnecessarily supported by a little island in the sky.
Benedetto da Majano. Bust of Filippo Strozzi the Elder.
Copy of a Titian at Vienna. Portrait of Filippo Strozzi the Younger.
Alessandro Allori. Portraits of Piero, Roberto (father of the Puttina) and Leone Strozzi, sons of Filippo.
Lorenzo de Credi (over entrance door). Holy Family.
Perugino (over farther door). Holy Family.
Salvator Rosa. Two Landscapes.
*Angelo Gronzino. Portrait of Cardinal Bembo when young.
*Raffaelle. Portrait of the poet Ludovico Martelli.
Paolo Veronese. Portrait of Pope Paul III.
Behind the palace, in the Piazza dei Strozzi, is the Palazzo Strozzino, a more ancient palace of the Strozzi family.
In the Via Vigna Nuova, on the left, is the Palazzo Ruccellai, built by Bernardo Rossellino, c. 1450, from the designs of Leon Battista Alberti, to whom the loggia opposite is also due. In the Via della Spada behind is the Cappella Ruccellai (keys opposite) containing a model of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem by Alberti. The Via delle Belle Donne runs north west, 'a name', says Leigh Hunt, 'which it is a sort of tune to pronounce'.
The Church of S. Gaetano, on the left of the Via Tornabuoni, faces the Palazzo Antinori, built by Giuliano di S. Gallo.
Hence the Via Rondinelli leads to the junction of the Via Cerretani and the Via dei Banchi. Turning down the latter (left) we reach the Piazza di S. Maria Novella.
This square was first laid out at the request of S. Pietro Martire, who wished for a large space where he could preach in the open air. In 1563, Cosimo I introduced chariot-races here, in which the existing obelisks served as the goals; they rest on tortoises, and are surmounted with lilies by Giovanni da Bologna.
The Croce al Trebbio, in a small piazza on the right, is a column commemorating a fight which took place with the Paterini, heretics against whom S. Pietro was preaching. It originally bore a statue of S. Peter Martyr, but now sustains a crucifix, picturesquely roofed over.
The arcade facing the church belongs to the Hospital of S. Paolo. It is adorned with medallions by Luca and Andrea della Robbia: the two at the ends are portraits of the artists themselves. A relief over a door, at the end of the arcade (inside), commemorates a meeting between S. Francis and S. Dominic, which is said to have taken place on this spot.
The neighbouring Church (in the Via del
Palazzuolo just behind) of the Vanchetone is so called
from the character of the confraternity who possessed it - Vanno
chetone - they go in silence. It contains a black image
of the Madonna, given by the Medici, two busts of boys by Donatello,
on either side of the sacristy, and the skeleton of Ippolito
Galantini, a member of the Order.
Water Colour, Colonel Goff
The Church of S. Maria Novella was begun 1229 at the expense of the Ruccellai, on the site of an earlier building called S. Maria tra le Vigne. It was the fashionable church in the 'Decameron'. Completed in seventy years, from its beauty it was called by Michelangelo La Sposa, or the bride. The façade of the church, of white and red marble and serpentine, is from designs of Leon Battista Alberti, and was not finished till 1470. Over the doors are frescoes by Ulisse Ciocchi. On the right there is a small cloister, surrounded by arches containing tombs.
Within, the church is a Latin cross. It is the best the Florentine churches, yet quite spoilt by the brown-and-white wash with which it is bedaubed. The best of the fine fifteenth-century paintings have been 'restored' to their destruction. Over the entrance is a crucifix by Puccio Capanna. On the right is a fresco of the Trinity, with the Virgin and S. John, and kneeling donors, by Masaccio. On the left is the Annunciation.
Water colour, Colonel E. Goff
Proceeding round the church from the right, we have -
1st Altar, Girolamo Macchietti. The Martyrdom of S. Lorenzo. The four succeeding altars have pictures by Giovanni Battista Naldini, a pupil of Bronzino. On either side of the altar dedicated to S. Thomas à Becket are two fifteenth-century monuments of the Minerbetti family, who claimed kindred with the saint. Over the last altar in this aisle is a picture by Jacopo Ligozzi (1543-1627), representing the resuscitation of a dead child by S. Raymond of Peñaforte. Close by is the tomb, by Romolo di Taddeo da Fiesole of Giovanni Battista Ricasoli, Bishop of Cortona, the trusted counsellor of Cosimo I. He was sent to France in 1557, charged to poison the Grand-Duke's enemy, Pietro Strozzi, but was forced to fly with the deed unfulfilled, and was henceforth known as the 'Vescovo dell'Ampollina', the Bishop of the Poison-cup. He died in 1572.
Entering the Right Transept is a terra-cotta bust of the Archbishop Antonino. Above is a fine gothic monument by Tino da Camaino to Tedice Aliotto, Bishop of Fiesole, 1356. A large fresco beyond this tomb ornaments the tomb of Joseph, Patriarch of Constantinople, who died 1440, during the Council of Florence, under Eugenius IV. Above it is a canopied monument to Fra Aldobrandini Cavalcanti of Florence, who died in 1229; his figure lies, not on the tomb, but in front of it.
At the end of the transept is the Capella Ruccellai, approached by steps, at the top of which is the tomb of Paolo Ruccellai, the father of the Giovanni Ruccellai at whose expense the façade of the church was built. Here is the famous Madonna of Cimabue. [Now in the Uffizi. See Sepia and EBB's Florence.]
You will gaze on it with interest, if not with admiration, for, independently of pictorial merit, it is linked with history. Charles of Anjou, King of Naples, passing through Florence while he was engaged in painting it, was taken to see it at the artist's bottega or studio, as it would now be termed, outside the Porta S. Piero. Rumour have been busy, but no one had as yet obtained a glimpse of it - all Florence crowded in after him - nothing like it had till been seen in Tuscany, and, when finished, it was carried in solemn procession to the church, followed by the whole population, and with such triumphs and rejoicings that the quarter where the painter dwelt obtained the name, which it has ever since retained, of Borgo Allegri.1This was the subject of the picture which first made the fame of Sir Frederick Leighton. Nor can I think that this enthusiasm was solely excited by a comparative superiority to contemporary art; it has a character of its own, and, once seen, stands out from the crowd of Madonnas, individual and distinct. The typ is still the Byzantine, intellectualised perhaps, yet neither beautiful nor graceful, but there is a dignity and a majesty in her mien, and an expression of inward pondering and sad anticipation rising from her heart to her eyes as they meet yours, which one cannot forget. The Child too, blessing with his right hand, is full of the Deity, and the first object in the picture, a propriety seldom lost sight of by the older Christian painters. And the attendant angels, though as like as twins, have much grace and sweetness. - Lindsay's Christian Art.The 1st Chapel, on a line with the high-altar, has on the pillar (right) a rude bas-relief of S. Gregory blessing its founder.Ascend the right stair from the farther naveI could see no charm whatever in the broad-faced Virgin, and it would relieve my mind and rejoice my spirit if the picture were borne out of the church in another triumphal procession (like the one which brought it there) and reverently burnt. - Hawthorne.
To muse in a small chapel scarcely lit
By Cimabue's Virgin. Bright and brave
That picture was accounted, mark, of old;
A king stoof bare before its sovran grace,
A reverent people shouting to behold
The picture, not the king, and even the place
Containing such a miracle frew bold,
Named the glad Borgo from that beauteous face
Which thrilled the artist, after work, to think
His own ideal Mary-smile should stand
So very near him, - he, within the brink
Of all that glory, let in by his hand
With too divine a rashness! Yet none shrink
Who come to gaze here now; albeit 'twas planned
Sublimely in the thought's simplicity:
The Lady, throned in empyreal state,
Minds only the young Babe upon her knee,
While sidelong angels bear the royal weight,
Prostrated meekly, smiling tenderly
Oblivion of their wings; the Child thereat
Stretching its hand like God. If any should,
Because of some stiff draperies and loose joints,
Gaze scorn down from the heights of Raphaelhood
On Cimabue's picture, - Heaven anoints
The head of no such critic, and his blood
The poet's curse strilkes full on and appoints
To argue and cold spasms for evermore.
A noble picture! worthy of the shout
Wherewith along the streets the people bore
Its cherub-faces, which the sun thre out,
Until they stooped and entered the church door.
Eliz. Barrett Browning.
At the corner of the chapel, on the right, is the monument - with angels drawing back the curtain from her sleeping figure - of the Beata Villana, daughter of Andrea di Messer Lapo, who married one of the Benintendi, and fled from the world because, when looking at herself in the glass from vanity, she saw a demon dressed in her fine clothes. She died in the odour of sanctity, 1360, aged twenty-eight. The other pictures in this chapel are, (right) S. Lucia, by Benedetto Ghirlandajo, and (left) the Martyrdom of S. Catherine, by Giuliano Bugiardini (1471-1554).
Immédiatement après son retour de Rome, en 1451, Bernardo Rossellini fut chargé du tombeau de la bienheureuse Villa. S'il avait donné support des aigles symboliques au sarcophage d'un grand historien, il su traiter non moins heureusement un sujet qui n'avait relevé que par les humbles vertus; et il plaça l'heroine qui les avait pratiqées non pas sur une console ou dans une niche richement ornée, mais dans une espèce de réduit presque au niveau du sol, où l'on voyait deux anges, d'une beauté ravissante, veillant auprès d'un visage transfiguré par la mort et sur lequel est restée l'expression d'un avant-gout de l'eternité bienheureuse. Il était impossible de mieux comprender ce sujet vraiment mystique, et de mieux répondre au sentiment populaire, qui demandait avant tout des inspirations sympathiques. - Rio, L'Art Chrétien.
The next Chapel, of the Strozzi contains the tomb of Filippo Strozzi, builder of the Strozzi Palace, by Benedetto da Majano. The frescoes, much injured by retouching, relate to the lifes of S. Philip and S. John the Evangelist, and are by Filippino Lippi. On the right wall S. Philip exorcises a poisonous dragon, which had been worshipped as Mars by the people of Hieropolis in Phrygia: in the lunette above he is crucified by the priests of the dragon. On the left S. John raises to life Drusiana, a woman of Ephesus, who had been full of good works. On the ceiling are the Patriarchs. S. Philip and S. John are represented, with the Virgin and Child, in the beautiful stained glass of the window.
The High-Altar (where Martin V created nineteen new cardinals) covers the remains of the Beato Giovanni di Salerno, the Dominican founder of the church. The Choir was originally the chapel of the Ricci, and was decorated at their expense with frescoes by Andrea Orcagna, but these were afterwards painted over with the stories of the Virgin and S. John Baptist by Domenico Ghirlandajo, who was employed by Giovanni Tornabuoni. On either side of the window are portraits of Tornabuoni and his wife. The window itself is filled with stained glass by Alessandro Fiorentino, 1491, a pupil of Ghirlandajo. The stalls of the choir were designed by Vasari.
The next Chapel is the Capella Gondi, which contains a crucifix by Filippo Brunelleschi.
Donato had completed a crucifix in wood, which was placed in the church of Santa Croce, and he desired to have the opinion of Filippo Brunelleschi respecting his work; but he repented of having asked it, since Filippo replied that he had placed a clown upon the cross. And from this time there arose the saing of, 'Take wood, then, and make one thyself'. Thereupon Filippo, who never suffered himself to be irritated by anything said to him, however well calculated to provoke him to anger, kept silence for several months, meanwhile preparing a crucifix, also in wood, and of similar size with that of Donato's, but of such excellence, so well designed, and so carefully executed, that when Donato, being been sent forward to his house by Filippo, who intended him a surprise, beheld the work (the undertaking of which by Filippo was entirely unknown to him), he was utterly confounded; and, having in his hand an apron full of eggs and other things on which his friend and himself were to dine together, he suffered the whole to fall to the ground, while he regarded the work before him in the very extremity of amazement. The artistic and ingenious manner in which Filippo had disposed and united the legs, trunk and arms of the figure was alike obvious and surprising to Donato, who not only confessed himself conquered, but declared the work a miracle. - Vasari.Next comes the Cappella de' Gaddi, with the raising of Jairus' daughter, by Bronzino, and two reliefs, by Giovanni dell' Opera, over tombs of the Gaddi. The chapel at the end of the left transept is a second Capella Strozzi, and contains the relics of the Beato Alessio degli Strozzi. The walls have frescoes of the Last Judgment and Hell, by Andrea and Bernardo Orcagna.
Ceci est bien autre chose que l'enfer du Campo Santo de Pise; ici se retrouve toute la topographie de l'enfer dantesque, autant du moins que la surface dont le peintre pouvait disposer le lui a permis. Ainsi il n'y a pas eu place dans le champ de la fresque pour les hypocrites, mais le nom est écrit à l'extrémité du tableua, et montre l'entention où eût été le peintre de les y faire entrer si l'espace ne lui avait manqué. Du reste, rien n'est déguisé ou dissimulé de ce qu'il y a de plus cru et parfois de plus grossier dans le peintre de certains supplices; la rixe de maitre Adam, le faux monnayeur hydropique et haletant de soif, est représentée au naturel; on dirait un duel de boxeurs. Les flatteurs sont plongés dans lèespèce de fange par laquell Dante a voulu exprimer tout son degoût pour les ames infectées de ce vice qui empeste les cours.The restored altar-piece, by Andrea Orcagna, represents S. Dominic presented to the Virgin. Beneath the steps leading to this chapel is an Entombment by Giottino, and, above, the portrait of a Bishop of Fiesole, 1348, who is buried here.
Ce qui est plus étrange, là, dans une chapelle, le pinceau du peintre n'a pas craint de reproduire cette bizarre alliance du dogme chrétien et des fables paiennes que s'était permise le poète, docile au génie de son temps, et qui étonne encore plus quand on la voit que quand on la lit. Ainsi les centaures poursuivant, sur les murs de Santa Maria Novella, commes dans la Divine Comédie, le violents et les percent de flèches; les harpies, souvenires profanes de l'Enéide, où ellese son plus à leur place que dans l'épopée catholique, sont perchées sur lest tristes rameaux d'ou elles jettent des plaintes lugubres; enfin les furies se dressent au-dessus de l'abîme sur la tour embrasée.
En face de l'enfer, Orcagna a représenté la gloire du paradis. Les cercles célestes de Dante ne se pretaient pas à la peinture comme les bolge infernales. Cependant, ce qui domine ces sortes de tableaux au moyen âge, savoir, la glorification de la Vierge, est aussi ce qui couronne le grand tableau de Dante. - Ampère.
The Sacristy by Fra Jacopo Talenti, has a beautiful lavatory by Luca della Robbia. One of the twelve banners is preserved here which S. Peter Martyr presented to his twelve captains when he sent them forth, on Ascension Day, 1244, to extirpate the Paterini. At the corner of the transept is a vase, from Impruneta, resting on a very poor marble figure by Michelangelo.
Entering the Left Aisle, beneath the first altar are the bones of the Beata Villana. Above is a picture of the Dominican missionary, S. Hyacinth, by Bronzino. Near the end of this aisle is a monument to Antonia Strozzi by Andrea da Fiesole. The pulpit was made by Maestro Lazaro, from designs of Brunelleschi.
The Chiostro Verde is supported by handsome pillars, but much spoilt by paint. It is surrounded by frescoes. On the right of the entrance from the church are some Dominican saints by Spinello Aretino. The left wall, as far as the Sacrifice of Noah, is by Paolo Uccello, the remaining twenty-four pictures by his friend Dello Delli, 1401. They are painted in green, whence the name of the cloister.
On the right, two windows with beautiful tracery are those of the Cappella degli Spagnuoli, used for the attendants of the Eleanora of Toledo, wife of Cosimo I. It was built for Buonamico Guidalotti in the fourteenth century, but the Dominican monk Fra Jacopo de' Talenti da Nipozzano. It is covered with frescoes attributed to Taddeo Gaddi and Simone Memmi. On the eastern wall are the Crucifixion, the Bearing of the Cross, and the Descent into Hades. On the left is the Apotheosis of S. Thomas Aquinas; on the right the Church Militant, defended by the Dominicans.
The subjects (said to have been selected by Fra Jacopo Passavanti) are chosen with a depth of thought, a propriety and taste, to which those of the Camera della Segnatura, painted by Raffaelle in the Vatican, afford the only parallel example. Each composition is perfect in itself, yet each derives significance from juxtaposition with its neighbour, and one idea pervades the whole, the Unity of the Body of Christ, the Church, and the glory of the Order of S. Dominic as the defenders and preservers of that Unity. This chapel, therefore, is to the Dominicans what the church of Assisi is to the Franciscans, the graphic mirror of their spirit, the apotheosis of their fame'. Lindsay's Christian Art.In this chapel the popular Council of Eight held their meetings after the Rising of the Ciompi. Beyond the chapel is a fresco of the Madonna and Saints by Simone Memmi.
Les admirable fresques de cette chapelle, dont les auteurs sont Taddeo Gaddi et Siméon Memmi, montrent à l'oeil ce mélange d'histoire e d'allégorie, ce caractère à la fois encyclopédique et symbolique, qui appartient à l'oeuvre de Dante, ainsi qu'a beautcoup d'autres poèmes du moyen âge, conçus dans le meme esprit, mais non avec le meme génie. Siméon Memmi a fait une peinture de la société civile et ecclésiastique: toutes les conditions sociales sont rassemblées dans se tableau, qui est comme une immense revue de l'humanité. La pape e l'empereur figurent au centre, selon le système de Dante; les portrait des personnages purement allégoriques, ou dont l'image est prise pour un allégorie sans cesser d'etre un portrait. Laure représente la volonté dans la peinture de Memmi, come Béatrice la contemplation dans l'oeuvre de Dante.
On peut remarquer que Dante a coutume de choisir dans l'histoire un personnage comme type d'une qualité, d'un vice, d'un science, et emploie tour à tour ce procédé e l'allégorie pour réaliser une abstraction. De meme, dans la fresque de Taddeo Gaddi, quatorze sciences ou arts sont exprimés par des figures de femmes, au-dessous desquelles sont placés des personnages typiques qui sont des symboles historiques de chaque science. La première est le droit civil avec Justinien; le droit canonique vien qu'après. Cet order est bien dans les idées politiques de Dante. La grande part qu'il voulait faire dans ce monde au pouvoirs impérial l'a porté à choisir aussi Justinien pour représenter la Justice dans Mercure, planète où il a placé la récompense de cetter vertu, en dépit de ce que la morale e l'orthodoxie pouvaient reprocher à lépoux de Théodora.
Dans ces peintures on retrouve donc sans cesse des conceptions semblables à celles de Dante, ou inspirées par elles; on remonté à lui comme à une source; ou on descend vers lui comme à une mer qui a reçu dans son sein tous les courants d'idées qui ont alimenté l'art au moyen âge. - Ampère.
Taddeo Gaddi a représenté la philosophie, quatorze femmes [See Sepia], qui sont les sept sciences profanes et les sept sciences sacrées, toutes rangées sur un seule ligne, chacune assise dans une chaire gothique richement ornamentée, chacune ayant à ses pieds le grand homme qui lui a servi d'interpète; au-dessus d'elles, dans une chaire plus délicate encore et plus ornée, Saint Thomas, le roi de toute science, foulant aux pieds les trois grand hérétiques, Arius, Sabellius, Averrhoès, pendant qu'a ses côtés les prophètes de l'ancienne loi et les apôtres de la nouvelle siègent gravement avec leurs insignes, et que, dans l'espace arrondi sur leurs tetes, des anges et des vertus symetriquement posés apportent des livres, de fleurs et des flammes. Sujet, ordonnance, architecture, personnages, la fresque entière ressemble au portail sculpté d'une cathédrale. - Toute pareille et encore plus symbolique est la fresque de Simone Memmi, qui en regard, représente l'Eglise. Il s'agit de figurer là toute l'institution chrétienne, et l'allégorie y est poussée jusqu'au calembour. Sur le flane de Santa Maria del Fiore, qui est l'Eglise, le pape, entouré de cardinaux et de dignitaires, boit à ses pieds la communauté des fidèles, petit troupeau de brebis couchées que défend la fidèle milice dominicaine. Les uns, chiens du Seigneur (Domini canes), étranglent les loups hérétiques. D'autres, prédicateurs, exhortent et convertissent. La procession tourne, et l'oeil remontant aperçoit les vaines joies du monde, les danses frivoles, puis le repentir e la pénitence; plus loin, la porte céleste, gardée par Saint Pierre, où passent les âmes rachetées, devenues petites et innocentes comme des enfants; puis le choeur pressé des bienheureux qui se continue dans le ciel par les anges, la Vierge, l'Agneau, entouré de quatre animaux symboliques, et le Père, au sommet du cintre, railliant et attirant à lui la foule triomphante ou militante, échelonnée depuis la terre jusqu'au ciel. - Les deux peintures sont en face l'une de l'autre et font une sorte d'abrégé de la théologie dominicaine; mais elles ne sont pas autre chose; la théologie n'est pas la peinture, pas plus qu'un emblème n'est un corps. - Taine.
The Great Cloister is surrounded by frescoes relating to the history of the Dominicans, and introducing many of the old buildings of Florence in their backgrounds. In a passage leading from the small cloister, in the tomb of the Marchesa Strozzi Ridolfi, are two frescoes by Giotto - the Meeting of Joachim and Anna at the Golden Gate, and the Birth of the Virgin.
If you can be pleased with this, you can see Florence. But it not, - by all means amuse yourself there, if you find it amusing, as long as you like; you can never see it. - Ruskin.In the first fresco we ought to see how -
S. Anna has moved quickest; her dress just falls into folds sloping backwards enough to tell you so much. She has caught S. Joachim by his mantle, and draws him to her softly by that. S. Joachim lays his hand under her arm, seeing she is like to faint, and holds her up. They do not kiss each other - only look into each other's eyes, and God's angel lays his hand on their heads. - Ruskin.Pope Martin V, after his acknowledgment by the Council of Constance, resided at S. Maria Novella from February 1419 to September 1420, as the guest of the Commonwealth, in magnificent lodgings which were prepared for him adjoining the cloisters. The church was the scene of the Council of Florence, 1439, at which Pope Eugenius IV (who had also taken refuge in the convent) presided in a mitre which was made for him by Lorenzo Ghiberti, encrusted with precious stones, and worth 30,000 florins.
Part of the old convent is now given to the Società dell'Accatonaggio, which relieves mendicancy by finding work for beggars.
From the back of S. Maria Novella, the Via Nazionale leads (right) to the great ugly square called Piazza dell'Independenza. It crosses the Via Faenza, where (turning left - on the right) is the secularized Convent of S. Onofrio, now called the Cenacolo di Foligno (admission 10-4, 25 c.) which contains the beautiful Cenacolo of Raffaelle. This fresco was formerly sometimes attributed to Neri de' Bicci, sometimes to Gerino da Pistoia,2 sometimes to Giannicola Manni; but all doubt as to its authorship has been set at rest by the discovery of Raffaelle's name on the border of S. Thomas's dress - 'RAF.VRB.XMDXV'. [Now lost]
Christ is in the centre; his right hand is raised, and He is about to speak; the left hand is laid, with extreme tenderness in the attitude and expression, on the shoulder of John, who reclines upon Him. To the right of Christ is S. Peter, the head of the usual character; next to him S. Andrew, with flowing grey hair and long divided beard; S. James minor, the head declined and resembling Christ; he holds a cup. S. Philip is seen in profile with a white beard. S. James major, at the extreme end of the table, looks out of the picture: Raffaelle has apparently represented himself in this apostle. On the left of Christ, ater S. John, is S. Bartholomew; he holds a knfe, and has the black beard and dark complexion usually given to him. Then Matthew, something like Peter, but milder and more refined. Thomas, young and handsome, pours wine into a cup; last, on the right, are Simon and Jude: Raffaelle has followed the tradition which supposes them young and kinsmen of our Saviour. Judas sits on a stool on the near side of the table, opposite to Christ, and while he dips his hand into the dish, he looks round to the spectators; he has the Jewish features, red hair and beard, and a bad expression. All have glories; but the glory round the head of Judas is much smaller than the others. - Jameson's Sacred Art.Hither has recently been transported from the Uffizi the collection called the Galleria Feroni, bequeathed to the State by the last representative of the Feroni family. The best pictures are -
Tenniers. A Kitchen Interior.
Lorenzo di Credi. The Virgin and St. John praying over the Child Jesus.
Carlo Dolci. The Annunciation, in two pictures - the Angel very beautiful, the Madonna ridiculous.
Schidone. Holy Family.
Turning to the right from the Piazza, down the Via della Scala, a door on the right, with a framework of fruit and flowers, marks the entrance to the Spezeria of S. Maria Novella, where excellent liqueurs and scented and medicinal waters were made by the monks, and where they are still sold. The pretty, cool, frescoed halls, filled with sweet scents, are well worth visiting, and there is a chapel with lovely frescoes by Spinelio Aretino, of the Washing of the Feet, the Last Supper, Our Saviour bearing His Cross, the Scourging, the Mocking, the Crucifixion, and the Deposition from the Cross. The great hall, where Martin V held his court when in Florence, was in the part of the convent now occupied by the Spezeria.
The Via della Scala takes its name from the Foundling Hospital of S. Maria della Scala, founded by one Cione di Lapo de' Pollini. The children are brought up entirely by goats; when the children cry, the goats come and give them suck. On the outside of the chapel is an inscription, saying that 20,000 persons were buried there during the plague of 1479. Further down the street, on the right, is the suppressed Convent of S. Jacopo in Ripoli, with a beautiful specimen of Luca della Robbia in the lunette over the church door. Alessandra della Scala, the original of 'Romola', living in the Via della Scala, and not in the Via dei Bardi.
Turning to the left, down the Via Oricellari, on the right were the high iron gates of the Ruccellai Gardens, which belonged to Bianca Cappello, where the Platonic Academy met which was founded by Cosimo de' Medici - Pater Patriae. The names of the Academicians were inscribed on a column in the garden; a staue of Polyphemus was by Antonio Novelli. Here Niccolò Macchiavelli recited his discourses on Livy, and Giovanni Ruccellai read Rosmunda, one of the earliest Italian tragedies, to Leo X. Bianca Cappello lived in the palace (which was designed by Leon Battista Alberti) before her marriage with Francesco I. These gardens, probably the most historic in the world, were condemned to destruction by the contemptible folly and avarice of the municipality in 1891, and streets with the inappropriate names of Garibaldi, Magenta, &c, are to be erected on the site.
At the end of the parallel street, called Porto Prato, is the Church of S. Lucia, which contains a Nativity by Domenico Ghirlandajo behind the high-altar.
Beyond this are the Cascine, the charming characteristic park of Florence, delightful meadows alternating with groves of trees, chiefly ilex and pine, and intersected and encircled by pleasant carriage-drices and walks. The sunny drive along the Arno is the most popular in winter, and lovely are the views, both towards Bellosguardo and looking back upon the town. In summer, people are glad to take refuge in the shadier avenues on the side towards the mountains. Carriages assemble, flowers are handed about, and all the gossip of the day is discussed on the piazza - Piazzale del Re - facing the Arno, near what was the favourite dairy-farm of the Grand-Dukes.
Les cochers prennent d'eux-memes, et sans qu'on le leur dise, le chemin du Piazzone; là il arrêtent sans qu'on ait meme besoin de leur faire signe.At the extremity of the park is a monument to the Rajah of Kolapore, who died at Florence in 1870, and whose body was burnt on that spot.
C'est que le Piazzone de Florence offre ce que n'offre peut-être aucune autre ville: une espèce de cercle en plain air, où chacun reçoit et rend ses visites; il va sans dire que les visiteurs sont les hommes. Le femmes restent dans les voitures, les hommes vont de l'une à l'autre, causent à la portière, ceux-ci à pied, ceux-là à cheval, quelques-uns plus familiers montés sur le marchepied.
Au milieu de toutes ces voitures passent les fleurists vous jetant des bouquets de roses et des violettes, dont elles iront le lendemain matin, au café, demander le prix auc hommes en leur présentant un oeillet. - Dumas.You remember down at Florence our Cascine,
Where the people on the feast-days walk and drive,
And through the trees, long-drawn in many a green way,
O'er-roofing hum and murmur like a hive,
The river and the mountain look alive?
You remember the piazzone there, the stand-place
Of carriages alive with Florentine beauties,
Who lean and melt to music as the band plaus,
To smile and chat with some one who afoot it,
Or on horseback, in observance of male duties?
'Tis so pretty, in the afternoons of summer,
So many gracious faces brought together!
Call it rout, or call it concert, they have come here,
In the floating of the fan and of the feather,
To reciprocate with beauty the fine weather.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Returning along the Borg' Ogni Santi - which runs parallel with, and very near to, the Arno - we pass the Church of Ogni Santi, also called San Salvador, with a beautiful group by Luca della Robbia over its door. On either side of the nave (near the middle) are frescoes: that on the left - by Domenico Ghirlandajo, 1480 - represents S. Jerome; that on the right - by Sandro Botticelli - is S. Augustine. The cupola is painted by Giovanni di S. Giovanni. In the left transept is a crucifix by Giotto; in the sacristy a Crucifixion by Niccolò di Pietro Gerini, a pupil of Taddeo Gaddi.
From the left ransept we enter the Cloisters, which have interesting frescoes relating to the lfie of S. Francis by Giovanni di S. Giovanni and Jacopo Ligozzi. In the Refectory (admission daily, 10 to 4, 25 c.; Sundays free) is a ciborium by Agostino di Duccio, and a grand fresco of the Last Supper by Domenico Ghilandajo, executed in 1480.
The Last Supper is composed in the traditional form, with the Saviour in the centre of a double-winged table, and the traitor along at the opposite side between him and the spectator. Yet the old symmetry of sitting apostles is already varied by an exhibition of the moving thought in the assemblage, and whilst Peter meaningly points at Judas, a group on the left presses forward, eager to fathom the words of the Redeemer, in a manner which recalls the masterpiece of Leonardo. A great variety of individual expression and action is also apparent, and the melancholy in the face of the apostle next S. John Evangelist is remarkable. - Crowe and Cavalcaselle.In the Piazza Manin was the residence of Caroline Murat. Close to this is the entrance of the Ponte alla Carraja, built as it now stands, in 1559, by Ammanati, for Cosimo I. [The Bridge was blown up in WWII, replaced by a modern one.]
Hence the Lung'Arno Corsini brings us to the Ponte SS. Trinità, founded in 1353 by Lamberto Frescobaldi, but several times rebuilt, the last time by Ammanati. [Blown up in WWII, it was painstakingly rebuilt as it had been.] Its proportions are exceedingly beautiful. Four statues of the Seasons decorate its parapets.
The Palazzo Frescobaldi on the opposite side of the bridge, recalls the memory of Dianora Salviati, wife of Bartolomeo Frescobaldi, who was the mother of fifty-two children, having never produced less than three at a birth.3I can by muse in hope upon this shore
Of golden Arno as it shoots away
Through Florence' heart beneath her bridges four:
Bent bridges, seeming to strain off like bows,
And tremble while the arrowy undertide
Shoots on and cleaves the marble as it goes,
And strikes up palace-walls on either side,
And froths the cornice out in glittering rows,
With doors and windows quaintly multiplied,
And terrace-sweeps, and gazers upon all,
By whom if flowers and kerchief were thrown out
From any lattice there, the same would fall
Into the river underneath, no doubt,
It runs so close and fast 'twixt wall and wall.
How beautiful! The mountains from without
In silence listend for the word said next.
Casa Guidi Windows, Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
In the Via Parione (No. 7), behind the Lung'Arno Corsini, is the entrance of the Palazzo Corsini, which contains a collection of pictures (open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, from 10 to 3).
The wide staircase, adorned with a statue of Pope Clement XII (Lorenzo Corsini, 1730-40), is exceedingly handsome, and leads to a great hall, which opens into a stately suite of rooms filled with pictures. Amongst them are: -
16 Sustermanns. Portrait of Ferdinando de' Medici, son of Cosimo III.
17 Pontormo. Male portrait.
18 Sustermanns. Vittoria della Rovere, wife of Ferdinando de' Medici.
20 Sustermanns. Cristina of Lorraine, wife of Ferdinand II.
21 Sustermanns. Ferdinand II.
From the Lung'Arno Corsini
22 Teniers. Old man warming himself.
8 Cigoli. Head of the dead Christ - very beautiful.
19,21 Scibold, Cristiano. Portraits of the painter and his wife, extraordinarily powerful and human.
10 Paris Bordone. Man in Venetian costime.
17 Sustermanns. Portrait of Cardinal Neri Corsini.
23 Giulio Romano. Copy of the Violin Player of Raffaelle.
37 Cristofano Allori. S. Andrea Corsini.
47 Ridolfo Ghirlandajo. Male portrait.
3. Domenichino. Portrait of Cardinal Filomarino.
*9 Raffaelle. Sketch of Julius II, with the holes pricked for trasnferring it to canvas.
18. Luca Signorelli. Virgin and Child, with S. Jerome and S. Bernard.
21 Fra Bartolommeo, 1511. Holy Family.
23 Filippino Lippi. Virgin and Child with angels.
*28 Botticelli. Virgin and Child with angels.
37 Filippino Lippi. Virgin and Child.
*40 Carlo Dolce. Poetry, said to be his masterpiece.
44 Raffaelle del Garbo. Virgin and Child and S. John.
5th (yellow) Room, amongst many family
Neri Corsini, Captain of the Guard under Cosimo III, and afterwards Cardinal, who built the Corsini Palace at Rome.
2 Angelo Bronzino, 1540. Portrait of Baccio Valori.
4 Holbein. Male portrait.
6 Antonio de Pollajuolo (or Antonello da Messina?). Male portrait.
*8 Sebastian del Piombo. The Bearing of the Cross.
Several rooms have recently been decorated with the magnificent hangings of Clement XII, brought - with his throne - from the Palazzo Corsini at Rome, together with much ancient furniture. The MS. include the Corsini banking-books of the time of the English Elizabeth.
1 This was the
subject of the picture which first made the fame of Sir
2 See A.H. Layard.
3 'Dianora Salviati, moglie di Bartolomeo Frescobaldi, fece cinquantadue figli, e mai meno di tre per parto, come riferisce Giovanni Schencio ne' libri delle sue osservazioni, nuove, ammiraboli e mostruose, cioe nel Libro Quarto del Parto, a carte 144'. The above inscription is painted on a full-length portrait of the lady in questions, in the possession of the Marchesa Leonea Frescobaldi, 1896. Bartolommeo Frescobaldi, born Jan. 18, 1574, died Nov. 5, 1650.
CHAPTER V: FOURTH EXCURSION - OLTR'ARNO
COMPARE WITH SEPIA, FLORENCE: OLTR'ARNO
Ascending the Lung'Arno Acciajuoli, we come to the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest and most picturesque bridge in Florence, built by Taddeo Gaddi, and covered with the shps of the goldsmiths, who were established here by Cosimo I. [This was the only Florentine bridge Hitler spared, blowing up the buildings at its end.] An open loggia on the middle of the bridge gives beautiful views up and down the river.
Among the four bridges that span the river, the Ponte Vecchio - that bridge which is covered with the shops of the jewellers and goldsmiths - is a most enchanting feature in the scene. The space of one house, in the centre, being left open, the view beyond is shown as in a frame; and that precious glimpse of sky, and water, and rich buildings, shining so quietly among the huddled roofs and gables on the bridge, is exquisite. Above it, the Gallery of the Grand-Duke crosses the river. It was built to connect to two great palaces by a secret passage; and it takes its jealous course among the streets and houses, with true despotism: going where it lists, and spurning every obstacle away before it. - Dickens.It was while Cosimo I was making this passage that he first say the beautiful Camilla Martelli, daughter of one of the jewellers on the bridge, whom he made his mistress, and afterwards his wife. Her splendours were of short duration. His successor, Francesco, shut her up in the convent of the Murate, where she made herself so disagreeable that the nuns offered Novenas to be relieved of her. The next Grand-Duke removed her to S. Monaca, but she was only allowed to come out once for the marriage of her daughter Virginia with the Duke of Modena, and died imbecile from disappointment.
At the end of the bridge was a Hospice of the Knights of Malta, where Ariosto stayed for six months in 1513, and where he made the acquaintance of the beautiful Alexandrina Benucci, who was then passing the first months of her widowhood in retirement there. Near this stood the statue of Mars, at the foot of which young Buondelmonte was killed.
We have now entered the shady part of the town, known as Oltr'Arno. On the left is the old tower of the Palazzo Manelli, where Boccaccio frequently visited his friend Francesco de'Amanetti. Here (left) is the entrance of the Via de' Bardi, one of the oldest streets in Florence, but a great part of it has been lately destroyed to make the quay of Lung'Arno Torrigiani. Among the buildings sacrificed was the interesting Chapel of S. Maria sopra l'Arno, which bore an inscription placed there by the handsome young Ippolito Buondelmonte, who, having made a secret marriage with Dianora de' Bardi, daughter of the hereditary enemy of his house, was surprised in climbing to her chamber by a ladder of ropes, and condemned to death as a robber, which he submitted to rather than betray his wife to the vengeance of her family. On the way to execution he implored to be led for the last time past the Palace of the Bardi, where the lady rushed down and publicly claimed him as her husband. His heroism and her devotion so touched all parties at the time, that peace was restored to Florence for a season. It was from a sarcophagus attached to the wall of this chapel that a priest, who had concealed himself there, rose as a ghost, to terrify a bravo employed by the Duke of Athens.O Buondelmonte, quanto mal fuggisti
Le nozze sue per gli altrui conforti!
Molti sarebber lieti, che son tristi,
Se Dio t'avesse conceduto ad Ema
La prima volta ch'a città venisti. Dante, Par. xvi.140.
The Bardi, to whom this street formerly belonged, and a daughter of whose house was the wife of Cosimo di' Medici, were partners in the great bank of the Peruzzi, failed with them for 9000,000 florins, lent to Edward III of England for his invasion of France, and which were never repaid. They recovered, however, from those losses, and when the Duke of Athens ordered the hand of one of his servants to be amputated, Ricci de' Bardi joined the conspiracy which ended in the fall of the tyrant, and the Bardi were rewarded with a third share in the government. They lost this by misuse of their power, but when Bishop Acciajuoli was sent to announce their exclusion from the government, the Bardi and other nobles barricaded Oltr'Arno, and were only subdued after a stout resistance.
The Via de' Bardi extends from the Ponte Vecchio to the Piazza de' Mozzi at the head of the Ponte alle Grazie; its right-hand line of houses and walls being backed by the rather steep ascent which in the fifteenth century was known as the Hill of Bogoli, the famous stone-quarry whence the city got its pavement - of dangerously unstable consistence when penetrated by rains; its left-hand buildings flanking the river, and making on their northern side a length of quaint, irregularly pierced façade, of which the waters give a softened, loving reflection as the sun begins to decline towards the western heights. But quaint as these buildings are, some of them seem to the historical memory a too modern substitute for the famous houses of the Bardi family, destroyed by popular rage in the middle of the fourteenth century.The Palazzo Mozzi, with beautiful gardens at the back, belonged to the rich family who gave so many ambassadors and gonfalonieri to the Republic, and one of whose members wrote in the name of his country to refuse to give up the Venus de' Medici to Napoleon I.
They were a proud and energetic stock, these Bardi: conspicuous among those who clutched the sword in the earliest world-famous quarrels of Florentines with Florentines, when the narrow streets were darkened with the high towers of the nobles, and when the old tutelar god Mars, as he saw the gutters reddened with neighbours' blood, might well have smiled at the centuries of lip-service paid to his rival, the Baptist. But the Bardi hands were of the sort that not only clutch the sword-hilt with vigour, but love the more delicated pleasure of fingering metal: they were matched, too, with true Florentine eyes, capable of discerning that power was to be won by other means than by rending and riving, and by the middle of the fourteenth century we find them risen from their original condition of popolani to be possessors, by purchase, of lands and strongholds, and the feudal dignity of Counts of Vernio, disturbing to the jealousy of their republican fellow-citizens. These lordly purchases are explained by our seeing the Bardi disastrously signalised only a few years later as standing in the very front of European commerce - the Christian Rothschilds of that time - undertaking to furnish specie for the wars of our Edward III, and having revenues 'in kind' made over to them, especially in wool, most precious of freights for Florentine galleys. Their august debtor left them with an august deficit, and alarmed Sicilian creditors made a too sudden demand for the payment of deposits, causing a ruinous shock to the credit of the Bardi and of the associated houses, which was felt as a commercial calamity all along the coasts of the Mediterranean. But, like more modern bankrupts, they did not, for all that, hide their heads in humiliation; on the contrary, they seem to have held them higher than ever, and to have been amongst the most arrogant of those grandi who drew upon themselves the exasperation of the armed people of 1343. The Bardi, who had made themselves fast in their street between the two bridges, kept these narrow inlets, like panthers at bay, against the oncoming gonfalons of the people, and were only made to give way by an assault from the hill behind them. Their houses by the river, to the number of twenty-two (palagi e case grande), were sacked and burnt, and many among the chief of those who bore the Bardi name were driven from the city. But an old Flroentine family was many-rooted and we find the Bardi maintaining importance and rising again and again to the surface of Florentine affairs in a more or less creditble manner, implying an untold family history that would have included even more vicissitudes and contrasts of dignity and disgrace, of wealth and poverty, than are usually seen on the background of wide kinship. But the Bardi never resumed their proprietorshio in the old street on the banks of the river, which in 1492 had long been associated with other names of mark, and especially with the Neri, who possessed a considerable range of houses on the side towards the hill. - George Eliot, Romola.
Over the arch leading to the Costa S. Giorgio is the Palazzo Tempi (now Bargagli), a restoration of the house of Amerigo dei Bardi, head of the great family, who had twenty-three houses in the street. The Palazzo Capponi, on the left of the street, was the residence of Niccolò d'Uzzano (1350-1433), three times Gonfalonier, who long resisted the power of the Medici. His daughter and heiress, Ginevra, married a Capponi. Just beyond is the Palazzo Canigiani, built in 1283, and once the Hospital of S. Lucia. Here Eletta de' Canigiani, the mother of Petrarch, was born. The adjoining Church of S. Lucia de' Magnoli has a Virgin with angels, a fine work of Luca della Robbia, over the door. [See Sepia.]
Beyond this, at the entrance of the Ponte alle Grazie, is the vast and handsome Palazzo Torrigiani, built by Baccio d'Agnolo, and containing a good collection of pictures.
1 Botticelli. The Lady hunted in the Pineta of Ravenna, from Boccaccio's story of Nastagio.
7 Benozzo Gozzoli. The Triumph of David.
12 Caravaggio. The Deposition.
5 Ridolfo Ghirlandajo. The Madonna.
7 Masaccio. His own portrait.
8 F. Allori. Portrait of Cardinal Ferdinando de' Medici.
*9 Leonardo da Vinci. Portrait of Benivieni.
11 Luca Signorelli. Portrait of himself.
20 Pollajuolo. A portrait. A very fine work of this master.
21,22 Fiammingo. Two portraits of a lady, supposed to be Diana of Poitiers.
32,33 Filippino Lippi. The story of Mordecai and Haman.
*7 Raffaelle? Madonna and Child. It is disputed whether this, or the picture at Bridgewater House, is the original; but most judges decide in favour of this, on account of the very evident pentimenti.
8,9,22 Pinturicchio. An ancient story unknown, being sides of a cassone. Exquisitely beautiful.
10 Paolo Veronese. Portrait of Alessandro Alberti.
11 Paolo Uccello. The Expedition of the Argonauts.
16 Bronzino. Portrait of Eleanora of Toledo.
21,22 Filippino Lippi. The story of Esther and Haman - sides of a cassone.
Pieces rich in incident, full of animation and feeling, luxuriously ornamented in dresses and accessories, and coloured with exquisite softness. - Crowe and Cavalcaselle.23 Garofolo. Christ and the Woman of Samaria - the landscape most beautiful.
2 Bronzino. Portrait of Alessandro de' Medici.
4 Guido Reni. Lucrezia.
10 Titian. Male portrait.
13 Franz Floris. Adam and Eve.
22 Franz Floris. Susanna.
14,16 Lucas Cranach. The Infant Saviour and S. John Baptist.
Close to the end of the Piazza de' Renai, which faces the Torrigiani Palace, is the Church of S. Niccolò sopra l'Arno, before which the citizens assembled in 1529 to swear to defend Florence. It was in the belfry of this church Michelangelo concealed himself after the city was betrayed to the Imperialists, till Clement VII had promised to pardon him the fortifications he had constructed. In the sacristy is an ijured fresco of S. Thomas receiving the Cintola, by Ridolfo Ghirlandajo.
The Porta S. Niccolò is the only one of the Florentine gates which remains exactly in its ancient state, and it retains its three tiers of arches.
From near the entrance of the Via de' Bardi, a passage under an archway leads up the hillside to the Porta S. Giorgio, passing, on the right, the house inhabited by Galileo. The very picturesque gate dates from 1324, and has a fresco by Bernardo Daddi of the Virgin and Child trhoned, with S. George and S. Sigismund. The neighbouring Fortezza di S. Giorgio or Belvidere, was built by Buontalenti for Ferdinand I. The Medici kept their treasures in a secret chamber beneath it.
On the left of the street - Via Guicciardini - which faces the Ponte Vecchio, is the Piazza S. Felicità, where a pillar commemorates one of the murderous victories of S. Peter Martyr over the heretics called Paterini. The tribune of the Church, in which young Buondelmonte was married to Fina Donati, belongs to the Guicciardini, and the historian Francesco Guicciardini is buried in front of the high-altar. The first chapel on the right contains a Deposition, by Jacopo Pontormo; in the 5th chapel is a Madonna with Saints, by Taddeo Gaddi. In the sacristy is a picture of the Martyrdom of St Felicitas and her sons, attributed to Neri de' Bicci. In the chapter house are frescoes, by Cosimo Ulivelli and Agnolo Gheri, and over the altar a Crucifixion by Niccolò Gerini. The portico of the church contains some monuments from an old cemetery which existed here in earlier times, including the incised figure of Barduccio Barducci, ob. 1414, who was twice Gonfalonier, and an altar-tomb with a figure of Cardinal Luigi de' Rossi, 1519, by Baccio di Montelupo. During the XVII and XVIII c. the church served as the Grand Ducal chapel. Ferdinand I made a court gallery there, which he could enter with his family from the passage leading from the Pitti to the Uffizi.
Now, on the left, we pass the Palazzo Guicciardini, nearly opposite to which a tablet marks the house where Macchiavelli died.
At the corner of the Via Toscanella an ancient well marks the site of the 'darksome, sad, and silent house' where Boccaccio was born, and in which he lived with his 'old, cold, rugged, and avaricious father'.4
At the entrance (right) of the Via Maggio, a tablet on the wall of Casa Guidi is inscribed to the memory of an English poetess, who lived there for many years with her distinguished husband, and died there in 1861 - 'Elizabeth Barrett Browning, che in cuore di donna conciliava scienza di dotto e spirito di poeta, e fece del suo verso aureo anello fra Italian e Inghilterra'.
On the right of the Via Maggio - turning towards the river - is a house - at the corner of the Via Marsigli - painted in fresco by Poccetti, where Bernardo Buontalenti lived, and whither Tasso rode from Ferrara to thank him for having contributed to the success of his 'Aminta' by the scenery he had painted for it, and returned immediately.
A few days after the recitation of the comedy, Bernardo was returning, as was his wont, to dine at his house in the Via Maggio; on approaching the door, he saw a man of good condition, venerable in person and appearance, in a country dress, dismount from his horse as if to speak to him. Buontalenti waited civilly till the stranger came up and said, 'Are you that Bernardo, so celebrated for the wonderful inventions which are daily produced by your genius, and who in particular have composed the astonishing scenery for the comedy by Tasso which has lately been recited?' 'I am Bernardo Buontalenti', he answered, 'but indeed am not such as your kindness and courtesy is pleased to believe'. The the unknown, with a smile, flung his arms round his neck, kissed him on the forehead, and said, 'You are Bernardo Buontalenti, and I am Torquato Tasso. Addio, addio, my friend, addio'; and, without leaving the astonished architect (who was quite thrown off his balance by this unexpected meeting) a moment to recover himself sufficiently either for words or deeds, he mounted his horse and galloped off, and was never seen again. - Baldinucci.Farther down the street is the Palazzo of the Ridolfi, of whom twenty-one were Gonfaloniers. No. 26 (left) is the house which Bianca Cappello built for herself, and caused to be adorned externally with paintings. It was between this and the bridge that her first husband, Bonaventuri, was murdered. On the same side of the street is the Palazzo Michelozzi, with an upper story, overhanding on brackets towards a side street.
The Casa Guidi is almost opposite to the magnificent Pitti Palace, which stands upon a basement of huge blocks of stone, and is exceedingly imposing from the dignity of its vast lines and gigantic proportions.
Je doute qu'il y ait un palais plus monumental en Europe; je n'en ai vu qui laisse une impression si grandiose et si simple. - Taine.The palace was begun in 1441, from a design of Brunelleschi, by Luca Pitti, and was sold by his descendants, in 1549, to the first Eleanora of Toledo, wife of Cosimo I. Long the residence of the Grand-Dukes, it is now occasionally occupied by the King of Italy.
The façade of the Pitti is 460 feet in extent, three stories high in the centre, each story 40 feet in height, and the immense windows of each 24 feet apart from centre to centre. With such dimensions as these, even a brick building would be grand; but when we add to this, the boldest rustication all over the façade, and cornices of simple but bold outline, there is no palace in Europe to compare to it for grandeur, though many may surpass it in elegance. The design is said to have been by Brunelleschi, but it is doubtful how far this is the case, or, at all events, how much may be due to Michelozzi, who certainly assisted in its erection, or to Ammanati, who continued the building, left incomplete at Brunelleschi's death, in 1444. - Fergusson.Here, on October 9, 1870, Victor Emmanuel II received the Roman deputations who came to preent to him the result of the plebiscite by which the Romans had voted their union with the rest of Italy under the House of Savoy.
A wonderful union of cyclopean massiveness with stately regularity. - George Eliot.
From a door in the left wing is the obscure approach to the pictures (admission daily 10 to 4, 1 fr.; Sundays free).2 The collection was formed by the Medici, and was brought to this palace about 1641. It may also be reached from the Uffizi by the covered gallery. The rooms in which the pictures are contained are most gorgeously decorated.
Pierre de Cortone, Fedi, Marini, les derniers peintres de la décadence, couvrent les plafonds d'allégories en l'honneur de la famille régnante. - Ici Minerve enlève Cosme I à Venus e le conduit à Hercule, modèle des grands travaux et des exploits héroïques; en effet, il a mis à mort ou proscrit les plus grands citoyens de Florence, et c'est lui qui disait d'une cité indocile: 'J'aime mieux la dépeupler que le perdre'. - Ailleurs la Gloire et la Vertu le conduisent vers Apollon, patron des lettres et des arts; en effet, il a pensionné les faiseurs de sonnets et meublé de beaux appartements. - Plus loin, Jupiter et tout l'Olympe se mettent en mouvement pour le recevoir; en effet, il a empoisonné sa fille, fait tuer l'amant de sa fille, tué son fils, qui avait tué son frère; la seconde fille a été poignardée par son mari, la mère en meurt; à la génération suivante, ces opérations recommencent: on s'assassine et on s'empoisonne héréditairement dans cette famille. - Taine.Beginning in the room farthest from the Uffizi, the gems of the collection (which include twelve works of Raffaelle) are: -
I. Sala di Venere (the halls are named outside
1 Albert Durer. Eve.
17 Titian. Holy Family with S. Catherine.
20 Albert Durer. Adam.
*140 Leonardo da Vinci? Portrait of Ginevra Benci.
The portrait of Ginevra Benci, in the Pitti Palace, is an unpretending but intelligently conceived picture of the greatest decision and purity of modelling and drawing. - Kugler.II. Sala d'Apollo:
In the portrait may be seen the Pope's eyeglass, the 'specillum' through which, according to Pellicanus, he used to watch processions, the 'cristallus concava' which, according to Giovio, he used when hunting. His bad sight was proverbial. After his election, the Roman wits explained the number MCCCCXI, engraved in the Vatican, as follows, 'Multi caeci cardinales creaverunt caecum decimum Leonem'. - Burckhardt.42 Perugino. The Magdalen.
His life was corroded by the poisonous solvent of love, and his soul burnt into dead ashes. - Swinburne.III. Sala di Marte.
The high-minded old man is here represented seated in an arm-chair in deep meditation. The small, piercing eyes are deeply set under the open, projecting forehead; they are quiet, but of extinguished power. The nose is proud and Roman, the lips firmly compressed; all the features are still in lively, elastic tension; the execution of the whole picture is masterly. There are several repetitions; one is in the gallery of the Uffizi, representing the Pope in a red dress. A good copy is also in the Berlin Museum; another at Mr Miles's of Leigh Court. - Kugler.*81 Andrea del Sarto. Holy Family - executed for Ottaviano de' Medici.
Seated in an arm-chair, with head bent downwards, the Pope is in deep thought. His furrowed brow and his deep-sun eyes tell of energy and decision. The down-drawn corners of his mouth betoken constant dealings with the world. Raffaelle has caught the momentary repose of a restless and passionate spirit, and has shown all the grace and beauty which are to be found in the sense of force repressed and power at rest. He sets before us Julius II as a man resting from his labours, and brings out all the dignity of his rude, rugged features. The Pope is in repose; but repose to him was not idelness - it was deep meditation. A man who has done much and suffered much, he finds comfort in his retrospect and prepares for future conflicts. - Creighton.
At Florence only can one trace and tell how great a painter and how various Andrea was. There only, but surely there, can the spirit and presence of the things of time on his immortal spirit be understood. - Swinburne.*82 Vandyke. Cardinal Guido Bentivoglio.
Cardinal Bentivoglio, born at Ferrara, 1579, was secretary to Clement VII, and sent as Papal Nuncio to Flanders by Paul V. He wrote 'The History of the War in the Netherlands', and died 1644.
83 Tintoretto. Luigi Cornaro, A Venetian
85 Rubens. Himself, his brother, and the philosophers Lipsius and Grotius.
87,88 Andrea del Sarto. The Story of Joseph - part of the famous nuptial decorations of the Borgherini Palace in the Borgo S. Apostoli, which Salvi Borgherini prepared for the marriage of his son Pier Francesco with Marghaerita Acciajuoli, and which she gallantly defended against the dealer of François I.
90 Cigoli. Ecce Homo - painted for Monsignor Massimo, who commissioned Passignano, Cigoli, and Carravaggio to compete for his patronage by this subject.
*96 Cristofano Allori. Judith - the sketch is in the Uffizi.
The most finished picture of Allori represents Judith with the head of Holofernes; she is a beautiful and splendidly attired woman, with a grand, enthusiastic expression. The countenance is wonderfully fine and Medusa-like, and conveys all that the loftiest poetry can express in the character of Judith. In the head of Holofernes it is said that the artist has represented his own portrait, and that of his proud mistress in the Judith. - Kugler.*94 Raffaelle. Holy Family - 'dell'Impannata', painted for Bindo Altoviti, a Florentine youth celebrated for his beauty. The authenticity of this picture has often been doubted, but a sketch from the hand of Raffaelle in the royal collection of England proves that the invention, if not the execution, is that of the master. The finest bit of the picture is the head of the aged S. Anne.
The Judith is pale with the passion and the crime of her cruel night's work - most terrible of heroines, with such exhaustion and excitement in her face as no one by Allori, of all her painters, has ventured to put there. - Blackwood, DCCV.
The Madonna dell'Impannata (the cloth window) is partly composed and executed by Raffaelle. The incident is most charming; two women have brought the Child, and hand it to the mother; and while the boy tunrs, still laughing, after them, he takes fast hold of the mother's dress, who seems to say, 'Look he likes best to come to me'. - Burckhardt.92 Titian. Male portrait - supposed to be Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk.
That formidable young man in black, with the small compact head, the delicate nose, and the irascible blue eye. Who was he? What was he? 'Ritratto virile' is all the catalogue is able to call the picture. I should think it was. Handsome, clever, defiant, passionate, dangerous, it was not is his fault if he had no adventures. - Henry James.IV. Sala di Giove:
The best of the impassioned and characteristic pictures of Salvator is the Conspiracy of Catiline, with figures taken immediately from the excitable Neapolitan life, dressed in old Roman costume. - Kugler.*113 Michelangelo? The Fates.
As regards the interpretation of this, or of any other profound picture, there are likely to be as many interpretations as there are spectators. Each man interprets the hieroglyphic in his own way; and the painter perhaps had a meaning which none of them have reached; or possibly he put forth a riddle without himself knowing the colution. - Hawthorne.The same person is represented in three different attitudes, and is said to be an old woman who offered her son to fight for the city when Michelangelo was conducting the defence of Florence in 1529.
In the Pitti Palace, a picture of the Three Fates is ascribed to Michelangelo - serene, keen, characteristic figures. It was executed, however, by Rosso Fiorentino. - Kugler.
123 Andrea del Sarto. Madonna in glory, with
four saints below.
125 Fra Bartolommeo. S. Mark - formerly above the entrance to the choir of S. Marco.
In the head there is something falsely superhuamn, but the drapery, which was really the principle object, is a marvellous work. - Burckhardt.131 Tintoret. Portrait of the Venetian Vincenzo Zeno.
A ripe beauty in a blue gold-embroidered dress, with violet-and-white padded sleeves, and a gold chain. - Kugler.V. Sala di Saturno:
A circular picture, painted about 1516. The Madonna, seen in a side view, sits on a low chair holding the Child on her knee; he leans on her bosom in a listless, child-like attitude; at her side S. John folds his little hands in prayer. The Madonna wears a many-coloured handkerchief on her shoulders, and another on her heard, in a manner of the Italian women. She appears as a beautiful and blooming woman, looking out of the picture in the tranquil enjoyment of maternal love: the Child, full and strong in form, has a serious, ingenuous, and grand expression. The colouring is uncommonly warm and beautiful. - Kugler.152 Andrea Schidone. Cain killing Abel.
Rien d'égale la suavité de la tete de la Vierge, la majesté de l'enfant Jésus, l'onction, l'ardente dévotion dans celle de Saint Jean. Tout est prophétique dans ces deux enfants; l'un déroule dans sa pensée toutes les destinées du monde, l'autre y voue déjà toute la sienne. - Madame Swetchine.
The Madonna della Sedia leaves me, with all its beauty, impressed only by the grave gaze of the Infant. - George Eliot, Diary, 1860.
Bernardo Dovizi had been chosen by Lorenzo de' Medici to be his son's tutor in early days. He showed himself faithful to the trust confided to him, and his tact and skill were of great value in securing Giovanni's election to the Papacy . . . His reputation as a courtier is largely due to his comedy La Calandra, in which a brother and sister disguise their sexes, a framework for scenes in which considerations of decenty have little place. Bibbiena's private life was according to the morality of his play. His house was shared by a concubine, who bore him three children. Leo, who witnessed the performance of La Calandra in the Vatican, was not shocked by this breach of ecclesiastical vows, but satisfied his sense of decorm by not creating Bibbiena a Cardinal till after his concubine's death. - Creighton, History of the Papacy.159 Fra Bartolommeo. Christ Risen, with the Evangelists, painted c. 1515; ordered for Salvatore di Giuliano Billi, and first placed in the S. Annunziata de' Servi.
A superb portrait, which nobly unites the characteristics of the statesmand and man of the world. - Passavant.
The Marys, having stopped weeping, look on the dead with wonder and love. - Vasari.165 Raffaelle. La Madonna del Baldacchino - ordered for the chapel of the Dei in S. Spirito, painted 1508, but left unfinished when Raffaelle was summoned to Rome by Julius II and much repainted and spoilt.
The Madonna and Child are on a throne; one one side stand S. Peter and S. Bruno; on the other, S. Anthony and S. Augustine; at the foot of the throne two boy-angels hold a strip of parchment with musical notes inscribed on it; over the throneis a canopy (baldacchino), the curtains of which are held by two flying angels. The picture is not deficient in the solemn majesty suited to a church subject; the drapery of the saints, particularly that of S. Bruno, is very grand; in other respects, however, the taste of the naturalisti prevails, and the head are in general devoid of nobleness and real dignity. In the colour of the flesh this picture forcibly reminds us of Fra Bartolommeo. Raffaelle left it unfinished in Florence; and in this form, with an appearance of finish which is attributable to restorations, it has descended to us. - Kugler.171 Raffaelle. Portrait of Tommaso Inghirami. Morelli considers this portrait to be only a copy, by a foreign master, from the original Raffaelle, which is still in the possession of the Inghirami family at Volterra, though ruined by restoration.
The picture remains a puzzle. Raffaelle left it unfinished on his journey to Rome; later, when his growing fame called fresh attention to the picture, the painting was continued we know not by whom. At last Ferdinand, son of Cosimo III, had it touched by a certain Cassana, with an appearance of finishing chiefly be means of brown glazings. The remarkably beautiful attitude of the Child with the Madonna (for instance, that of the hands), the figures on the left, arranged in the grand style of the Frate (S. Peter and S. Bernard), belong surely to Raffaelle; perhaps also the upper part of the body of the saint on the right, with the pilgrim's staff; on the other hand, the bishop on the right might be composed by quite another hand. The two beautifully improved Putti on the steps of the throne belong as much to the style of the Frate as of Raffaelle; of the two angels above, the more beautiful one is obviously borrowed from the fresco of S. Maria della Pace at Rome, from which it appears that the first finisher did not touch the picture till after 1514. - Burckhardt.
Tommaso Phaedra Inghirami was of a noble family of Volterra. Having lost his father at two years old, he was taken at once under the protection of the Medici, who provided for his education. His name of Phaedra was the result of an extraordinaty proof of wit and presence of mind. While acting in the tragedy of 'Hippolytus' at the house of the Cardinal of S. Giorgio, in which he filled the part of Phaedra, something which went wrong in the machinery interrupted the performance. Inghirami immediately stepped forward and filled up the interval by an impromptu of Latin verses, which produced immense applause and shouts of 'Viva Phaedra!', and the name afterwards stuck to him and was added to his own. He was sent as ambassador by Alexander VI to Maximilian, who gave him the title of Count Palatine. In 1510 he was made Bishop of Ragusa by Julius II, and officiated as secretary at the conclave in which Giovanni de' Medici was elected Pope. It is in the red dress which he then wore that he is represented by Raffaelle.*59 Raffaelle. Maddalena Strozzi, wife of Angela Doni.
The most terribly, the most inflexibly veracious of portrait-painters. - Vernon Lee.
The so-called Disputa della SS. Trinità is peculiarly fitted to exhibit Andrea's affinity with the Venetian school. This is a 'Santa Conversazione' of six saints. S. Augustin is speaking with the highest inspiration of manner; S. Dominic is being convinced with his reason, S. Francis with his heart; S. Laurence is looking earnestly out of the picture; while S. Sebastian and the Magdalen are kneeling in front, listening devoutly. We here find the most admirable contrast of action and expression, combined with the highest beauty of execution, especially of colouring. - Kugler.*174 Raffaelle? The Vision of Ezekiel - often attributed to Giulio Romano, painted (probably in 1517) for the Ercolani family at Perugia.
This picture is supposed to have been executed by Raffaelle as early as 1510, but, to judge from its affinity with the earlier pictures of the Loggie, it can only have been produced in 1513; it contains the First Person of the Trinity, in a glory of brightly illuminated cherubs' heads, His outstretched arms supported by two genii, and resting on the mystical forms of the ox, eagle, and lion; the angel is introduced adoring beside them. Dignity, majesty, and sublimity are here blended with inexpressible beauty; the contrast between the figure of the Almighty and the two youthful genii is admirably portrayed, and the whol composition so clearly developed that it is undoubtedly one of the masterworks of the artist. Michelangelo, who had also given a type of the Almight, represents Him borne upon the storm; Raffaelle represents Him as it irradiated by the splendour of the sun; here both masters are supremely great, similar, yet different, and neither greater than the other. - Kugler.178 Raffaelle. La Madonna del Gran-Duca3- a picture which might better be called 'del Duca', as it was probably painted at Urbino, in 1504, for Duke Guidobaldo.
C'est là vraiment une vision! Des torrents de lumière jettent le contemplateur dans l'éblouissement, il se sent saisi par le bras de feu qui soulevait le prophète; et ce n'est pas seulement la couleur qui étonne; le dessin de ce petit tableau est d'une énergie, d'une hardiesse, d'une richesse incomparable. C'est bien Jéhovah, c'est bien le vrai Dieu de l'ancien Testament qui s'est révélé à Raphaël, plus poète encore ici que peintre; c'est toute la sublimité de l'ode, une strophe répétée des divins concerts. - Madame Swetchine.
Here the Madonna holds the Infant tranquilly in her arms, and looks down in deep thought. Although slightly and very simply painted, especially in the nude, this picture excels all Raffaelle's previous Madonnas in that wonderful charm which only the realisation of a profound thought could produce. We feel that no earlier painter had ever understood to combine such free and transcendent beauty with an expression of such deep foreboding. This picture is the last and highest condition of which Perugino's type was capable. - Kugler.179 Sebastian del Piombo. The Martyrdom of S. Agata - painted for Rangone, Cardinal Deacon of S. Agata. An unmistakably powerful work of the master.
The Madonna Grand-Duca marks the growing transition from the first to the second manner of Raffaelle. The Virgin has all the pensive sweetness and reflective sentiment of the Umbrian school, while the Child is loveliness itself. We think of Perugino still, but we think of him as suddenly endued with a purer, firmer outline, and more refined sentiment. - J.S. Harford.
Quand on demandait à Raphaël où il trouvait le modèle de ses vierges, il répondait, comme un platonicien - qu'il fut en réalité: - 'Dans une certaine idée'. - Emile Montégut.
This picture combines the composition of Michelangelo with a trace of Venetian colouring, but, besides the unpleasantness of the subject, it is unattractive to the spectator by the obvious sacrifice of all freshness of life for a style of art which, after all, Sebastian never entirely acquired. - Kugler.VI. Sala del Iliade:
It is difficult sometimes to decide whether Giorgione meant to represent a real portrait, or an ideal head, or a genre subject, so well did he understand to give his figures that which especially appealed to the comprehension and sympathies of his spectators. We see this in his 'Concert' in the Pitti Palace, representing two priests playing the piano and the violoncello, with a youth. - Kugler.*190 Sustermanns. Portrait of a son of Frederick III of Denmark - a marvellous portrait.
Of the undisputed pictures by Giorgione, the grandest is the Monk at the Clavichord. The young man has his fingers on the keys; he is modulating in a mood of grave and sustained emotion; his head is turned away towards an old man standing near him. On the other side of the instrument is a boy. These two figures are but foils and adjuncts to the musician in the middle; and the whole interest of his face lies in its concentrated feeling - the very soul of music, passing through his eyes. - Symonds, Renaissance in Italy.
VII. Sala dell'Educazione di Giove:
243 Velasquez. Philip IV.
245 Raffaelle? 'La Donna Velata', resembling a picture of S. Catherine by Raffaelle, now lost, but once in the possession of the famouns Earl of Arundel, and engraved by Hollar. This picture, which was brought in 1824 from Poggio Reale, is an undoubted work of Raffaelle. It was in the possession of the Botti family in 1677, when Crivelli say it, and described it as an original. It bears the same type, of a beautiful Roman woman, employed in the Madonna di S. Sisto.
265 Andrea del Sarto. S. John Baptist (half-length), painted for Ottaviano de' Medici.
270 Guido Reni. Cleopatra - one of the best
works of the master.
311 Dosso Dossi. Duke Alfonso - a copy of Titian.
380 Dosso Dossi. St John Baptist, attributed to Giorgione.
427 Franciabigio (Francesco Bigi). The Calumny of Apelles.
In the small Stanza della Stufa, on the left of this, are figures of Cain and Abel by Dupré.
VIII. Sala d'Ulysse:
297 Paris Bordone. Portrait of Pope Paul III (Farnese).
345 Granacci. Holy Family.
IX. Sala di Prometeo:
*353 Botticelli? Supposed portrait of La Bella Simonetta, beloved by Giuliano de' Medici, and extolled by Pulci and Poliziano. Exceedingly interesting and curious, with an impossible neck, the long eyelid so much admired at the time, and a simple dress exactly matching the colour of the hair.
365 Mariotto Albertinelli. The Nativity.
A brilliant easel picture, charming for its combination of the qualities of Leonardo and Credi. - Crowe and Cavalcaselle.372 Andrea del Castagno. Male portrait.
X. La Galleria de' Poccetti has an interesting collection of miniatures.
A permesso to visit the ground-floor of the Palace, and also the Silver Chamber - Gabinetto degli Argenti - can be obtained at the 'Administrazione' in the third court on the left of the middle entrance. The reception rooms are very handsome, and in the cases of the Silver Chamber are several works of Benvenuto Cellini.
Between the palace and the picture-gallery is the entrance to the beautiful Boboli Gardens (open to the public on Sundays and Thursdays), so called from the family whose mansion was once situated here. Near the entrance is a Grotto containing four unfinished statues intended for the monument of Julius II by Michelangelo, and presented by his nephew, Leonardo Buonarroti, to Cosimo I. In front of the palace is an amphitheatre of seats, raised one above the other, whence walks, between cliped avenues of bay and ilex, lead to the higher ground, where are the Fountain of Neptune, with a statue by Stoldo Lorenzi (1565); the statue of Dovizia - Abundance - believed to be a portrait of Joanna of Austria, first wife of Francesco I, and the little meadow, called L'Uccellaja, from its bird-snares.
On Sunday, I went to the highest part of the Garden of Boboli, which commands a view of most of the city, and of the vale of Arno to the westward; where, as we had been visited by several rainy days, and now at last had a very fine one, the whole prospect was in its highest beauty. The mass of buildings, especially on the other side of the river, is sufficient to fill the eye, without perplexing the mind by vastness like that of London; and its name and history, its outline and large picturesque buildings, give it a grandeur of a higher order than that of mere multitudinous extent. The hills that border the valley of the Arno are also very pleasing and striking to look upon; and the view of the rich plain, glimmering away into blue distance, covered with an endless web of villages and country-houses, is one of the most delightful images of human well-being I have ever seen. - John Sterling's Letters.One of the most beautiful pictures in Florence may be obtained from the right-hand of the amphitheatre, whence the dome of the cathedral and the graceful tower of the Palazzo Vecchio are seen between a stately group of cypresses and the massy brown walls of the palace.
You see below, Florence, a smokeless city, its domes and spires occupying the vale; and beyond to the right the Apennines, whose base extends even to the walls. The green valleys of these mountains, which gently unfold themselves upon the plain, and the intervening hills covered with vineyards and olive plantations, are occupied by the villas, which are, as it were, another city - a Babylon of palaces and gardens. In the midst of the picture rolls the Arno, through woods, and bounded by the aerial snow and summits of the Lucchese Apennines. On the left a magnificent buttress of lofty, craggy hills, overgrown with wilderness, juts out in many shapes over a lovely vale, and approaches the walls of the city. Cascine and ville occupy the pinnacles and abutments of those hills, over which is seen at intervals the ethereal mountain-line, hoary with snow and intersected by clouds. The vale below is covered with cypress groves whose obeliskine forms of intense green pierce the grey shadow of the wintry hill that overhangs them. The cyrpresses too of the garden form a magnificent foreground of accumulated verdure; pyramids of dark leaves and shining cones rising out of the mass, beneath which are cut, like caverns, recesses which conduct into walks. The cathedral with its marble campanile, and the other domes and spires of Florence, are at our feet. - Shelley.Qui Michel-Angiol nacque? e qui il sublime
Dolce testor degli amorosi detti?
Qui il gran poeta, che in sì forti rime
Scolpi d'inferno i pianti maladetti?
Qui il celeste inventor, ch'ebbe dall'ime
Valli nostre i pianeti a noi soggetti?
E qui il sovrano pensator, ch'esprime
Sì ben del Prence i dolorosi effetti?
Qui nacque, quando non venia proscritto
Il dit, leggere, udir, scriver, pensare;
Cose, ch'or tutte appongonsi a delitto. - Alfieri, sonn. xl.
At 19 Via Romana (west of the Pitti Palace) is the Museo di Fisica e di Storia Naturale, open 10-3 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
Returning to the entrance of the Ponte Vecchio, we reach the Borgo di S. Jacopo, at the corner of which is a statue of Bacchus, standing beneath an old palace of the Cerchi. Close to this is the Palazzo Barbadori, built by Filippo Brunelleschi. On the right is the Church of S. Jacopo sopr'Arno, rebuilt in 1580. It contains a copy by Giovanni della Robbia of the group of the Doubting S. Thomas by Verocchio. Here the nobles assembled in 1293, and determined to resort to arms rather than submit to the decree which excluded them from a share in the government.
Opposite this is the fine old Tower of the Barbadori, adorned with works of Luca della Robbia. In the piazza beyond, facing the river, is the palace of the Frescobaldi, and opposite it a Palazzo Capponi. The houses facing the river beyond this belonged to the great family of the Soderini, and in one of them Niccolò Soderini received S. Catherine of Siena.
Behind this quay runs the street called Fondaccio di Santo Spirito. In a house on the left the great Florentine captain, Francesco Ferrucci, was born in 1489. Opposite (at the corner of the Via di Serragli) is the Palazzo Rinuccini, built in the sixteenth century, by Luigi Cardi Cigoli.
On the left of the street called the Fondaccio is the great Church of Santo Spirito, originally built by Augustinians in 1292, but rebuilt in 1433. It was still unfinished in 1470, when the building took fire from some illuminated phenomena intended to represent the descent of the Holy Ghost, during the visit of Galeazzo-Maria Sforza, and was entirely burnt. It was once more rebuilt from designs which had been left by Brunelleschi. The cupola was by Salvi d'Andrea; the sacristy by Giuliano di S. Gallo; and the bell-tower by Baccio d'Agnolo.
Santo Spirito being entirely according to Brunelleschi's design, he was enabled to mould it to his own fancies. This church is 296 feet long by 94 feet 3 inches wide, and taking it all in all, is interantlly as successful an adaptation of the basilican type as its age presents. - Fergusson.The interior is exceedingly handsome. Under the dome is a baldacchino, much like that at S. Alessio at Rome, and around it a choir, of 1599, isolated, as in the Spanish churches. The vast number of chapels contain many good pictures: -
1st Chapel. School of Piero di Cosimo. Assumption.
2nd Chapel. Nanni di Baccio Bigio. Copy of the Pietà of Michelangelo.
2nd Chapel, on right. Pollajuolo? S. Monaca enthroned.
3rd Chapel, at end. Filippino Lippi. Madonna and Child with saints, and Tanai de Nerli, the persecutor of Savonarola, and his wife, the donors, kneeling. This picture is a worthy companion to that of the Badia.
4th Chapel, at end. Copy of the Munich Perugino. The Vision of the Virgin to St Bernard.
1st Chapel, left (returning). Monument of Gino Capponi, his son Neri, and his great-grandson Piero.
Among many disasters, no one appeared so great, no one caused such universal grief, as the death of the brave and generous citizen, Piero Capponi. He had undertaken the seige of the castle of Soiana, to retake it from the enemy; and, as was usual with him, he was acting on this occasion both as a common soldier and commander; and, while planting a gun ner the wall, he was mortally wounded by a ball. The soldiers fled, as if terror-struck, and raised the siege of Soiana. At Florence a splendid funeral, at the public expense, was immediately ordered, and there never was seen so universal a lamentation for the death of a private citizen. His body was brought up the Arno in a funeral barge, and was deposited in his own house in Florence, near the bridge of the Santa Trinità, from whence it was taken to the Church of Santo Spirito, accompanied by the magistrates and a vast multitude of citizens. The church was lighted up by innumerable tapers, and, in four ranges of banners, the arms of the magistracy alternated with those of the family. A funeral oration was delivered over the coffin, proclaiming with the highest praise the distinguished life of the deceased, and the deep sorrow felt for the loss of the valiant soldier and eminent citizen. His remains were then deposited in the same tomb which his grandfather Neri had caused to be constructed for his illustrious great-grandfather, Gino Capponi. - Villari.Choir:
1st Chapel, at end. Piero di Cosimo? (1482). Madonna enthroned with S. Thomas and S. Peter.
2nd Chapel of the Corbinelli, at end. Marble work by Sansovino (Andrea Contacci).
Outre le couronnement de la Vierge, qui forme le sommet de cet immense tabernacle, il y a, dans la partie inférieure, une représentation de la Cène, où les apotres sont placés de manière à multiplier les difficultés de la perspective, pour ce que l'artiste se donnat le plaisir d'un triompher. Dans ces deux compositions, le marbre est traité à la manière de Mino da Fiesole, c'est-a-dire que les figures ont très-peu de relief, et que les lignes qui les circonscrivent ont quelquefois l'air de se confondre avec la surface plane sur laquelle elles reposent. A cela prés, l'exécution en est délicate et le sentiment admirablement rendu. Quant aux détails d'ornementation qui appartiennent à la sculpture décorative, ils sont d'une perfection qu'on ne retrouve pas toujours au meme degré dans les ouvrages subséquents d'Andrea San Sovino. - Rio, L'Art Chrétien.3rd Chapel, at end. Raffaellino dal Garbo. The Trinity, with S. Catherine and S. Mary Magdalen in adoration.
Left Aisle (returning):
Chapel beyond the door. Ridolfo Ghirlandajo. Virgin and Child, with S. Anna, S. Mary Magdalen, and S. Catherine.
In this church Luther preached on his way to Rome, as an Augustinian monk.
There is a beautiful covered passage leading to the sacristy. The large cloisters are surrounded with unimportant frescoes.
The space in front of the church is laid out in gardens. At the end, on the left, is the old Palazzo Guadagni. The Via S. Agostino opens on the right. Near its entrance (left) is the house which belonged to the Marchese della Stufa, which contains the wonderful bust of the Gonfalonier Niccolò Soderini, by Mino da Fiesole, and the only authentic portrait of Michelangelo, that by Giuliano Bugiardini, which is described by Vasari.
The Via S. Agostino leads into the Via de' Serragli. Here the Church of S. Elisabetta occupies the site of a house in which S. Filippo Neri was born in 1515. On the left, near the end of the street, are the Torrigiani Gardens, which contain a high tower, in allusion to the crest of the family. The neighbouring Church of La Calza (so called from the material of the cowl worn by its monks) contains a Perugino of the Crucifixion, with the Beato Columbini of Siena. S. John Baptist, S. Jerome, S. Francis, and the Magdalen, at the foot of the cross. In the refectory is a Cenacolo by Franciabigio. The Porta Romana, which cloes the street, gave the name of Baccio della Port to Fra Bartolommeo, who lived near it in his youth. In the neighbouring Via Porta Romana a tablet marks the house of Giovanni di S. Giovanni.
The Church and Convent of the Carmine, beyond the Via de' Serragli, were built c. 1475, in the place of an older church, whose bells were rung to summon (1378) the rising of the Ciompo. In the right transept is the famous Cappella Brancacci, which is covered with noble frescoes, including the finest paintings of Masacci, and some of Filippino Lippi. Here Michelangelo used to study drawing with Piero Torrigiani.3
The importance of these frescoes arises from the fact that they hold the same place in the history of art during the fifteenth century as the works of Giotto in the Arena Chapel held during the fourteenth. Each series forms an epoch in painting from which may be dated one of those great and sudden onward steps which have in various ages and countries marked the development of art. The history of Italian painting is divided into three distinct and well-defined periods: by the Arena and Brancacci Chapels, and the frescoes of Michelangelo and Raffaelle in the Vatican. - A.H. Layard.The order of the frescoes is: -
The four frescoes on the wall above the altar are from the history of Peter and John, and are all by Masaccio.
In these works, for the first time, we find a well-grounded and graceful delineation of the nude, which, though still somewhat constrained in the figures of Adam and Eve, exhibits itself in succesful mastery in the Youth preparing for Baptism; so well, in short, in both, that the first were copied by Raffaelle in the Loggia of the Vatican, while the last, according to an old tradition, formed an epoch in the history of Florentine Art. The art of raising the figures from the flat surface, the modelling of the forms, hitherto only faintly indicated, here begin to give the effect of actual life. In this respect, again, these pictures exhibit at once a beginning and succesful progress, for in the Tribute Money many parts are hard and stiff; the strongest light is not placed in the middle, but at the edge of the figures; while in the Resuscitation of the Boy, the figures appear in perfect reality before the spectator. Moreover, we find a style of drapery freed from the habitual type-like manner of the earlier periods, and dependent only on the form underneath, at the same time expressing dignity of movement by broad masses and grand lines. Lastly, we reach a peculiar style of composition, which in the Resusciation of the Boy, supposed to be Masaccio's last picture, exhibits a powerful feeling for truth and individuality of character. The even itself includes few persons: a very lively interest in what is passing, merely present a picture of sterling, serious manhood; in each figure we read a worthy fulfilment of the occupations and duties of life. - Kugler.Masaccio died at the age of forty-one, and is buried amid his paintings in this chapel. A marble slab in the centre of the floor commemorates him and his friend Masolino. Vasari gives as his epitaph:
Ces peintures partent du réel, je veux dire de l'individu vivant, tel que les yeux le voient. Le jeune homme baptisé que Masaccio montre nu, sortant de l'eau et grelottant, les bras croisés, est un baigneur contemporain, qui s'est trempé dans l'Arno par une journée un peu froide. De même son Adam et son Eve chassés du Paradis sont des Florentins qu'il a déshabillées, l'homme avec des cuisses minces et de grosses épaules de forgeron, la femme avec un col court et une lourde taille, tous deux avec des jambes assez laides, artisans ou bourgeois qui n'ont point porporitonné et réformé les corps. Pareillement encore, le petit ressuscité de Lippi, agenouillé devant l'apotre, a la maigreur osseuce et les membres grêles d'un enfant moderne. Enfin presque toutes les tetes sont des portraits: deux hommes encapuchonnés, à gauche de Saint Pierre, sont des moines dui sortent de leurs couvents. On sait les noms des contemporains qui onte preté leur visages: Bartolo di Angiolino Angioli, Granacci, Soderini, Pulci, Pollajuolo, Botticelli, Lippi lui-meme; en sorte que cette peinture semble avoir pris tout son etre dans la vie environnante, comme le plâtre plaqué sur un visage emporte le modèle de la forme à laquelle on l'a soumis. - Taine.
In the Sacristy of the Carmine are frescoes of the life of S. Cecilia, by Agnolo Gaddi.Se alcun cercasse il marmo, o il nome mio;
La chiesa è il marmo, una cappella è il nome.
Morii, che Natura ebbe invidia, come
L'arte del mio penello upo e desio.
[If any seek the marble or my name,
This church shall be the marble - and the name,
Yon oratory hilds it. Nature envied
My pencil's power, as Art required and loved it -
Thence was it that I died.]
In the chapel wrought
One of the few, Nature's interpreters,
The few whom Genius gives as lights to shine,
Masaccio; and he slumbers underneath.
Wouldst though behold his monument? Look around!
And know that where we stand, stood oft and long,
Oft till the day was gone, Raffaelle himself;
Nor he alone, so great the ardour there,
Such, while it reigned, the generous rivalry;
He and how many as at once called forth,
Anxious to learn of those who came before.
To steal a spark from their authentic fire,
Theirs who first broke the universal gloom,
Sons of the morning. - Rogers' Italy.
In the choir is the fine tomb to the Gonfalonier, Piero Soderini (buried in Rome), by Benedetto da Rovezzano. It was because this Soderini was simple and had a good heart that Macchiavelli wrote the famous epigram: -
In the north transept (1675) is the tomb of S. Andrea Corsini, and great reliefs, by Foggini, relating to his life. Andrea Corsini was a Carmelite monks, Bishop of Fiesole, canonised by Urban VIII in 1629.La notte che morì Pier Soderini
L'alma n'andò dell'inferno alla bocca;
E Pluto le gridò: Anima sciocca,
Che inferno? va nel limbo de' bambini!
[The night that Peter Soderini died,
His soul flew down unto the mouth of hell:
'What? Hell for you? You silly spirit!? cried
The fiend: 'Your place is where the babies dwell!'
Symonds' Renaissance in Italy]
In the Cloisters are remains of a consecration of the church by Masaccio. Little is visible but the figure of a man in a yellow dress, supposed to represent Giovanni de' Medici: above are traces of a fresco of hermits sitting before their cells. Another fresco, on the same wall, representing a knight and a nun presented to the Virgin by their patron saints, is attributed to Giovanni da Milano.
In the second cloister a Pietà signed 'Hieronimus de Brixia, 1504' is interesting as the work of a rare artist, the Brescian Carmelite Girolamo d'Antonio.
The street beyond the Piazza del Carmine leads to
the Porta S. Frediano, which dates from 1324. Here Charles
VIII entered Florence, Nov. 17, 1494. Between this gate and
the Porta Romana is the old Jewish Cemetery. The Church
of S. Frediano is modern. The original convent of S.
Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi stood here; the cell of the saint is
now a chapel.
1 See Boccaccio
in the Ameto, 1343
2 Sticks or umbrellas left at the entrance of the Pitti are conveyed to the exit of the Uffizi for a fee of 25 c., for which a receipt is given.
3 We may notice here especially the heavy eyelid which is a characteristic of the Madonnas of Raffaelle - the 'santo, onesto e grave ciglio' which Giovanni Sanzio attributes to Battista Sforza, and which is exaggerated in the works of Francia and Perugino. The arch over the eyes of the Madonnas of Raffaelle is generlly almost invisible; Castiglione, in his Cortegiano, mentions that Italian ladies were in the habit of removing the hairs of their eyebrows and foreheads.
4 See memoirs of Benvenuto Cellini.
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