Monday, June 25, 2012

The Crucifixion by Perugino in Borgo Pinti

Pietro Perugino, The Crucifixion, 1493-96
Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi,

Borgo Pinti is one of the main streets of Florence which takes you to the historical centre. On this street there is the complex of Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi, founded in 1257, and dedicated to the Florentine Carmelitane.

In the Charter House of this complex, Perugino (c.1446/50-1523), an Umbrian painter of the Renaissance period, active between Umbria, Tuscany and Rome, frescoed the theme of the Crucifixion.

The decoration is a triptych and takes up a whole wall, divided by the ceiling vaults and the painted architectural arch elements. The harmonious and luminous scenery contributes to decreasing the emphasis of the drama represented by the scene, that reflects the typical serene and meditative attitude of the artist.

During the summer it is hard to have access to the complex, because the main entrance it is through the local school, which is currently closed for holiday.

An earlier version of the same subject it is visible in the National Gallery of Art in the United States.
If you are curious and you want to know more about it here the link:

A presto!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Is that Dante?

The Museo of Bargello in Florence is one of those museums less visited by tourists! It has an extensive sculpture collection, including some of the best work by Donatello, Verrocchio, Michelangelo, Cellini and Giambologna. It has a collection of Renaissance medals on the second floor, which includes some wonderful work by Pisanello, a charming collection of Medieval household implements such as combs, hair pins, mirrors and ivory caskets in the so-called Sala degli Avori, or Ivory Room.

This building itself was the official residence of the Captain of the People, later the Podesta` of Medieval Florence, but also as a prison where many convicts awaiting execution would spend their last days. 

In this museum there is a room on the first floor, the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene, the place where the convicts would spend their final hours before beginning their journey to the scaffold. Vasari informs us that Giotto (1267-1337), a famous Italian painter, acclaimed for the cycle of Saint Francis in Assisi and for the Arena Chapel in Padua, painted on the altar wall of the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene a portrait of his friend Dante Alighieri, the writer of the Divine Comedy. 

Portrait of Dante, 1337
Fresco, Florence

In 1839 a group of Italian art-lovers, having read this same passage in Vasari's Lives of the Artists, applied for permission to search for the portrait underneath the coat of whitewash that had meanwhile been applied to the walls. They uncovered a largely ruined cycle of frescoes depicting, amongst other subjects, Hell and Paradise. Below the figure of Christ they found the group described by Vasari complete with Giottos's portrait of Dante. 

Unfortunately, the face of the supposed poet was badly damaged. Dante's characteristic profile was quickly returned to him by simple and pragmatic exigency of a restoration policy of the time.

Therefore today its authenticity is more than dubious! 

You know the best thing to do it is just to go and check with your own eyes next time in Florence!!!

A presto!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Biennale di Ferrara

The International Biennale of Ferrara is a cultural initiative organised by the Associazione Culturale Ferrara Pro Art in collaboration with public and private institutions.

The event offers its stage to emerging talents, established names alongside some of the cultural-artistic scene. The program provides a large space dedicated to visual arts and contemporary events, such as music, performances, guided tours to the city and much more.

The Biennale will run until December and it will involve many historic sites of the city of Ferrara, which is a place full of art and history.

Some of the instalment will be in the Castello Estense, the real fortress of the city centre. Erected in 1385 for Nicolo' d'Este to protect him and his family against external attacks, it was commissioned to the court architect Bartolino Novara. The new building was leaning against the old Tower of the Lions, incorporated in the new building, which was thus provided with four corner towers, joined together by restrained walls. For several decades, the castle was used as a military fortress, until when, since 1450, was gradually transformed into a stately home and lots of space was occupied by the court, which was embellished with frescoes and decorations. In short, the castle lost the stark appearance of the fortress to become a beautiful place with courtyards, decorated with turrets, balconies and sumptuous apartments.  Today the Castle houses the Provincial administration and the Prefecture of Ferrara. 

Even the Chiostro of Sant'Anna recently restored, will be used for this event. In the past this place was used as the old city hospital. In later centuries the complex was expanded to occupy much of the block to the north-east of the Castello Estense. The cloister is famous for the fact that the poet Torquato Tasso was imprisoned there for years for alleged insanity.

Many other places will be utilised during the next few months for the Biennale, therefore if you want to see something different, stop over in Ferrara for the day!

A presto!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Caravaggio's Raising of Lazarus is in Rome

Caravaggio, Raising of Lazarus (1609) 
Museo Regionale, Messina

Finally, after several months of conservation, Caravaggio's Raising of Lazarus will be on display for a month at Palazzo Braschi, the current Museum of Rome, to then return to Museo Regionale of Messina.

The painting was produced in the last years of Caravaggio's life in Sicily, after he fled from Malta. Commissioned by the Genoese merchant Giovanni Battista de' Lazzari for the Church of the Padri Crociferi or "Cross-Bearing Fathers" in Messina, the Raising of Lazarus is interpreted as redemptive for Caravaggio who is a fugitive for murder and with a death sentence on his head, desperately in need o a miracle. 

So if you are in Rome in the next few weeks, don't miss this opportunity and go to visit this work together with the museum of Palazzo Braschi, located between Piazza Navona and Corso Vittorio Emanuele.

A presto!

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