Author: Mike Samuda

November 15, 2007

No respect

One of the delights of dipping into the Medici Archives is discovering that our ancestors could be just as irreverent, cynical, critical and downright mean as any twenty-first-century commentator. Two fine examples of scorn, lack of empathy, and disrespect for high office can be read in reports to
September 20, 2007

Mischief, thou art afoot

One of Italy’s best-kept artistic secrets, the mid-nineteenth-century Tuscan school of art known as I Macchiaoli, has finally received the recognition it rightfully deserves, as the object of a far-reaching exhibition at the beautifully restored Villa Bardini in Florence. Running until October 14th, the

Upstairs downstairs

Piera da Menabbio, testifies under oath concerning her employment as a servant for a Jewish banker in Pescia   Fourth Day of August [1570] Piera daughter of Giuliano di Andrea da Menabbio presented herself freely in person. She was asked under oath if she had worked in the house of
July 26, 2007

The Beast Reports from Rome

A letter written from Rome on 5 June 1540 by Rosso di Filippo de Medici (also kown as 'The Best') to his distant relative Cosimo I   You should know that Pavoncino has finally returned and has marvellous stories from France, Flanders and Spain about the manner with which he
July 12, 2007

A royal pain

Historians have a tendency to dismiss military specialists as mere chroniclers of conflict. Proper historians concern themselves with the causes of war and the long-term effects of defeat or victory—they are excited by peace treaties, not casualty lists and are interested in grand strategy, not tactical details. &
June 28, 2007

The devil wears Duomo

Walking into the Duomo beneath its 24-hour counter-clockwise time piece, can feel like stepping through the portals of a time-machine. One enters a space larger and more austere than anticipated. This is the assembly hall of the people of Florence, simultaneously Temple and Forum.   The shock
May 31, 2007

How football explains the world

Football is unquestionably the most basic of all team sports. The sole object of the game is to kick or head a ball into the opposition’s goal and to do this more frequently than your opponents do this to you. Despite, or perhaps because of, the absurdly simple
April 5, 2007

Making an impression

The four-month exhibition, Cézanne a Firenze, open until July in the Palazzo Strozzi, celebrates the fact that Florence became the spiritual home for Italian Impressionism, with such leading Tuscan artists as Fattori, Soffici and Carena. The exhibition also honours Egisto Fabbri and Charles Loeser, two of Florence&
March 8, 2007

What great paintings say

As I browsed in the Uffizi bookshop, a modest little paperback entitled 15th Century Paintings grabbed my attention. Glancing at the back of the book, I calculated that for the price of eight postcards, I could readily own this well-printed and profusely illustrated volume.   But then I had
January 25, 2007

Innocent eyes

Whenever we visit a major art gallery it is usually to have our prejudices confirmed. We rediscover our favourite works and artists and congratulate ourselves on our impeccable good taste. This is why a visit to the Uffizi’s free exhibition of works drawn from its reserve collection is