Further arting about in Florence!

Tuesday 27 July

This morning we woke to a perfect Summer day, not to hot just fresh and perfect..our last full day in Florence.

view from our Florence Hotel room surrounded by trees and classic architecture

view from our Florence Hotel room surrounded by trees and classic architecture

another view from our hotel room

another view from our hotel room

After brekky we set our sites on the Bargello,  Florence’s National Museum of Applied Arts and Sculpture. Built as the Palazzo of the City Official in the late C15th the building later became a prison for 300 years before being returned to its true status on the Piazza della Signora in the C19th.

Some of the world’s most amazing sculptures are here including Michelangelo’s Bacchus and Madonna and Child with young John the Baptist, David – Apollo and a bust of Brutus.  Among many major works by Cellini the  Museum includes Narcissus, Ganymede,Danae and her Son Perseus, and the base of the real Perseus. The actual huge bronze of Perseus holding the head of the Hydra he had cut off takes pride of place on a copy of the base in the Piazza Signora. Reading Cellini’s biography on the plane on the way to Europe it seems that Perseus occupied Celini’s mind for just about all of the last nine years of his life. Perhaps the star of this collection is the fine Mannerist bronze of Mercury by Giambologna.

Base of Cellin's

Base of Cellin’s “Perseus” at the Bargello. the actual statue is in the Piazza Signora on a copy of the base

Donatello's

Donatello’s “St George” in the Bargello. The one on the exterior of the Orsanmichele church is a copy of this one

interior wall of the Bargello - rather forbidding, formerly palazzo, then prison, now a museum

interior wall of the Bargello – rather forbidding, formerly palazzo, then prison, now a museum

Cellin's

Cellin’s “Perseus”..nine years in the making from bronze and much complained about in his Autobiography. Here in the Piazza Signora

Donatello's lion statue in the Bargello (No Michelangelo photos because of pressure from staff!)

Donatello’s lion statue in the Bargello (No Michelangelo photos because of pressure from staff!)

Verrochio

Verrochio “David” statue bronze in Bargello; interesting comparison with Donatello

Donatello's somewhat androgynous 'David' in the Bargello. The first free-standing sculpture created in the Renaissance

Donatello’s somewhat androgynous ‘David’ in the Bargello. The first free-standing sculpture created in the Renaissance

On the second floor are  many examples of Donatello’s sculptural genius including his rather effete or even androgynous bronze David,  and a second marble David. Here also is Donatello’s original St George, the one on the exterior of the Orsanmichele Church being a copy The third floor was closed but we still had plenty of choice with rooms full of maiolica, small bronzes and mediaeval artworks.

After lunch we tracked out to the massive Santa Croce church which contains the tombs of Michelangelo (by Vasari), Galileo, Machiavelli and Bruni along with a giant memorial to Da Vinci and of course many hundreds of tombs of lesser known Italians. Once again the size and scope of this vast edifice defies iPhone photography.  The Renaissance Church has a Neo-Gothic facade and campanile both of which were added in the mid C19th, resulting in a very complex architectural structure with a great many chapels, cloisters and a colonnaded verandah by Brunelleschi. The very high Gothic Sanctuary is completely covered in frescoes as are nearly all the other chapels. The Capella Bardi next to the Sanctuary has frescoes by Giotto , somewhat damaged but an excellent fresco of friends comforting the dying St Francis.

Santa Croce church Florence  Marble exterior added in C19th

Santa Croce church Florence Marble exterior added in C19th

Renaissance Santa Croce with C19th campanile added

Renaissance Santa Croce with C19th campanile added

Cimabue flood damaged crucifixion in Santa  Croce 'Chapter House'

Cimabue flood damaged crucifixion in Santa
Croce ‘Chapter House’

Brunelleschi (

Brunelleschi (“Pazzi”) Chapel interior alongside Santa Croce church Florence -perfect Renaissance proportion defies photography

One of 14 roundels in Pazzi Chapel depicting the apostles -designed by Brunelleschi

One of 14 roundels in Pazzi Chapel depicting the apostles -designed by Brunelleschi

Vast memorial to Da Vinci in Santa Croce church

Vast memorial to Da Vinci in Santa Croce church

Dante statue outside Santa Croce church

Dante statue outside Santa Croce church

Frescoes in Sanctuary of Santa Croce church

Frescoes in Sanctuary of Santa Croce church

Giotto fresco of death of St Francis in Bardi chapel alongside Sanctuary of Santa Croce church

Giotto fresco of death of St Francis in Bardi chapel alongside Sanctuary of Santa Croce church

Machiavelli's tomb in Santa Croce church Florence

Machiavelli’s tomb in Santa Croce church Florence

Michelangelo's tomb in Santa Croce church Florence by  Vasari with figures representing sculpture, art and architecture

Michelangelo’s tomb in Santa Croce church Florence by Vasari with figures representing sculpture, art and architecture

Taddeo fresco of Last Supper in hall attached to Santa Croce church in Florence

Taddeo fresco of Last Supper in hall attached to Santa Croce church in Florence

;Giotto fresco in chapel next to Santa Croce church

;Giotto fresco in chapel next to Santa Croce church

The “Chapter House” alongside the church which was severely flooded in 1966 now again holds the significant crucifix by Cimabue which has been restored but still shows signs of damage. It is probably the first painting of the crucifixion which shows the “human” Christ as opposed to the regal glory of Byzantine representations of Christ.

Standing alongside this vast church is Brunelleschi’s domed chapel (the Capella de’ Pazzi) with “perfect” classical proportions, and simple decoration of glazed roundels of the apostles by C15th sculptor Robbia. This was a chapel of significant peace and reflection.

Beneath the church is a basement area which includes an excellent historical survey of the 1966 flood and the restoration work which followed. The five meter deep flood was in fact the fifth and not the deepest flood of the Fiume River since the C14tth. The church is one of the lowest-lying areas of Florence. The vast crypt area of the Church now contains an elegant modern worship centre with modern furniture. This area appears to be the “worshipping heart” of the church.

Finally further halls attached to the Church contain additional frescoes including an impressive fresco of the Last Supper by Taddeo (14th) still in an excellent state of preservation.

There appears to be no end to the artistic treasures of Florence..even walking to the above we came across the Dante study centre office which is now housed in a disused convent but the first two rooms of offices you come to are alive with Renaissance scriptural frescoes.  Scratch a wall in Florence and you will find a fresco!

Ann relaxing at our "local" in Florence at the end of a month of sweltering heat in  Italy. We spent each evening here in Florence recreating ourselves!

Ann relaxing at our “local” in Florence at the end of a month of sweltering heat in Italy. We spent each evening here in Florence recreating ourselves!

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