Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Bargello

June 21st

After the Uffizzi this is one of the most important museums in Florence. It used to be the loggia (town hall) and according to my guidebook it is the oldest seat of government in Florence. You can still see evidence of this within the courtyard.

If you look carefully the walls are covered in what appears to be little relief sculptures. 

You can see more of them here.

They are, like in Fiesole, the family crests/shields of visiting sheriffs to Florence. Visiting sheriffs were necessary for keeping order because no local families in power- nor any other Florentine citizen- could be trusted to remain impartial. Because an outsider had no loyalties to any families within the city, he could be brought in for a short time to mediate justice.

According to the museum description these are mainly mid-14th to mid-16th century crests (Renaissance)

Here is a detail of the ceiling of the galleries in the courtyard. I love the torch holder. You can also see some of the crests that line the wall.

I absolutely love this. It is one of hundreds attached to old buildings throughout the city. Ever since Marco first pointed them out to our group, I see them everywhere. Typically they are wrought iron rings or "W" shaped heavy fixtures on attached to the outer walls, inner courtyard or columns of buildings. They were used to tie up horses! Many of them (like this one) have animal head ornaments on them.

The courtyard of the Bargello is full of amazing sculpture!  She's the centerpiece of the work below and gorgeous!

I love the elegance of the design. 

Giambologna's Oceanus

After waiting for the rest of our group to enter the museum (we had to do it incognito because we didn't have a reservation) we went inside the museum.
Pictures were VERY discouraged inside where ladies in uniforms yell "NO PICTURE." But as often as I could, I was a sneaky-sneak. It helps that we were in a large group and I had friends to "cover me." :P

Byzantine Ivory, the Empress Ariana maybe, 6th century

This is pretty cool. It is a 16th century wedding chest that shows the city of Florence on it.

See the Baptistery of San Giovanni? :)

 Donatello, David, 1408. According the museum description it was commissioned by the Opera Santa Maria del Fiore and it was the sculptor's first work! It was supposed to have been a part of the Duomo's exterior but for whatever reason that was not to be and in 1416 it was purchased by the Palazzo del Signoria to be displayed as a symbol of civic Florentine freedom. The body is very Gothic, but the head looks like ancient sculpture so you see already in Donatello's earliest work the artist looking to Classical sculpture for inspiration .

Donatello David. ca. 1439-1443

The most beautiful Italian man I saw! Well the most beautiful sculpture of a male that is! Donatello's David.  Sigh.* What can I say. This work is so immensely important. It is the first nude in Renaissance sculpture. It was commissioned by Cosimo il Vecchio (the father of Lorenzo the Magnificent) for the Palazzo Medici (their city residence) and was then confiscated by the Signoria (city goverment) and placed in the courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio (the central seat of government). According to the museum description it was a symbol of republican freedom and civic heroism because when the Medici were ousted David became a symbol of freedom. David (the Florentines) vanquished Goliath (the Medici). 

I absolutely love Donatello and after this trip even more so. The delicacy. The intricacy. The difficulty of casting in bronze, which one of my classmates who is a sculptor explained to us in detail, is all extraordinary. I can't say enough about him, which means that I am likely boring most of you readers. I'll simply say that I love, Love, LOVE this piece.

Pietro Francavilla's Jason,  1589.

A later Renaissance nude that comes of the return to Classical traditions that Donatello began. Notice that the pose is very similar to Donatello's David.

Sneaky-sneak again. This is the pottery room in the Bargello where you can see the progression of Italian pottery for which Tuscany is quite famous. 

The glass caused a bit of glare but you can see how ornate each piece is. One can still find pottery such as this being crafted by local artisans and sold in Florentine shops for a pretty penny!

 After the Bargello I walked with friends to lunch and stopped to snap a picture of another shop selling high fashion chef's clothes!

For good eats we hit up our favorite place near campus where for 4 Euro you can get a delicious sit down meal. This time I tried the Pasta Fredda. Like always it was delicious. The things I love about this place are that the service is nice and there is no coppera (sitting fee- usually 1-2 Euro). 

Yum! This was a cold dish with al-dente pasta, fresh basilico, marinated black olives, pomodoro, and fresh mozzarella cheese. Yum! Yum!

One of the things about Florence is the abundance of street art. I'll say more about the artist, CLET, in another post.

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