Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Palazzo Pitti, Boboli Gardens, and the Museo degli Argenti

6/29, Continued...

Here is a little piece of my journal for the day. It was one of the only days when I didn't take extensive notes during lecture.

Crazy day today. Crazy and wonderful, which describes the experience of being in Florence with CSU Summer Arts aptly.

Earlier today we went to the Palazzo Vecchio, which is an incredible space. It has room after room of painted ceilings and walls, commissioned by Cosimo I and his wife Eleanora, when they took over the seat of the republican government and made it one of their ducal residences. Cosimo, the grand duke, essentially became king of Tuscany. The ceilings, the stories, the details were stunning. They were the work of Vasari and his team of painters. All were executed majestically.

After leaving the Palazzo Vecchio, I crossed the Ponte Vecchio with some classmates for lunch. They were incredibly lovely to get to know!

After lunch we headed to the Pitti Palace, which, like the Louvre, is an overwhelming place- both in its decoration and the works of art it displays. One is awestruck to see Raphael, Artemesia Gentileschi, Titian, and Tinteretto, so casually hung on the walls. I have decided that it is one of the places I'll be returning to before leaving Florence.

Right now, I'm sitting in one of the rooms of the Museo degli Argenti in the special exhibit called "Сокровища Кремля" or Treasures of the Kremlin. I've been wanting to come to this exhibit since my first few days in Florence. The Kremlin collection is fantastic: armor, icons, weapons, ivories. All elaborate and ridiculously fine and/or rare. There are also paintings of Moscow by Alekseev. They make me think of family so far away. 

Speaking of Russian people, some just walked into the exhibit. Talking loudly. So obnoxious. That is my cue to leave this place, with some of its spellbinding magic intact. 


The Palazzo Pitti really is amazing. The trompe l'oeil ceilings are breathtaking. By the time the Pitti was being built and decorated, the techniques of making two dimensional ceilings look like they had three dimensional relief sculpture had been perfected. I clearly remember one room with relief sculptures in a Greco-Roman frieze style. I was truly shocked that they were not actual sculpture. The painting was that convincing! 

Of the paintings, the ones that made the greatest impression were ones by artists I recognized, although there were certainly many other beautiful paintings. My favorite was Artemesia's Judith and her Maidservant (1612-13). It was hung in the corner of a huge room with tons of other catch-your-breath works. If you know what you are looking for, however, this painting clearly stands out.

At the end of the gallery tour, there was a Titian special exhibit! One of his paintings, La Bella, had been fully restored and the bright colors he used newly resplendent. She is very striking!

The day was beyond hot. After we left the Galleria Palatina to view the Boboli Gardens, all I could think about was my air-conditioned dorm room. Although the heat was miserable, I decided to persevere and go to the Museo degli Argenti (the Silver Museum). This museum is a part of the Palazzo Pitti complex, just across from the Galleria Palatina and at the edge of the courtyard where we left the Boboli gardens as a group. Heat be damned I thought! And why not? I was here already and who knew if I would make it back again.

The interior of the Museo degli Argenti is filled with Medici treasures and the treasures of other Florentine families. There is metal work as well as beautiful crystal and ivory carvings. No pictures were allowed so alas, courtesy of Wikipedia and the photographer 'shakko':

Cosimo I and his Eleanora by Domenico Compagni

Lazurite Vase from the Kremlin Collection, 2011 exhibit

There is very little of what I remember seeing available online, but I did find this piece: forums

According to one of the people posting to this art history forum, "This horse and cage was made from a single piece of ivory. The artist Filippo Planzone, a Sicilian working in Genoa, gave the horse to Grand Duke Ferdinando II in 1624."

I remember being absolutely awestruck by this piece. Can you see the tiny chain from the horse's face? Or imagine the skill it takes to carve THAT from one piece of delicate and breakable ivory! Wow!

I was sad not to be able to photograph the museums myself, but on the way home I did see these street artists...

Walking by Leonardo's La Joconde and Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring in sidewalk chalk = :D

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