ART + CULTURE

Art and culture from Florence, Italy, focusing on exhibitions, museums, artisans and more.

ART + CULTURE

Women at work

‘Sculpture is the art of producing, in three dimensions, representations of natural or imagined forms. It includes sculpture in the round, which can be viewed from any direction, as well ...

ART + CULTURE

In the beginning was De Gasperi

Fifty years ago, on 27 March 1957, Italy, West Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg signed one of the most important treaties in modern European history. The Treaty of Rome established the European Economic Community, now known as the European Union. The EU numbers over half a billion citizens,

ART + CULTURE

Upstairs downstairs

Piera da Menabbio, testifies under oath concerning her employment as a servant for a Jewish banker in Pescia   Fourth Day of August 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

ART + CULTURE

Behind every great man

In June, 1007, Tedaldo, a German marquis, donated money to build a monastery on the island of San Benedetto in the Po River, in memory of his wife, Guilia. To the monks who would live in the monastery, Tedaldo gave ‘half of the island, including the houses, woods, fields

ART + CULTURE

Cirque du Orfei

The white turban covering her jet-black beehive hairstyle, the heavy black eyeliner, long false eyelashes and bright red lips all went out with the 1960s. Yet such outdated and eccentric attributes are what make Moira Orfei instantly recognisable to Italians when they see her face on billboards, announcing the

ART + CULTURE

Manhunt for the misbehaving priest

Letter sent by Onofrio Camaini, the Sienese Chief of Justice to Duke Cosimo I de Medici on April 6, 1559:   [] The trial of Terenzio Usinini of Siena, who was arrested for the attempted rape of the Widow of Belforte, is almost over [] The result of the trial is that

ART + CULTURE

Frescoes in Florence

There are many important, and splendid, frescoes in Florence, among them the cenacoli (Last Supper paintings), all of which are frescoes. To get you started, here is a list of frescoes I believe should not be missed: The Brancacci Chapel: Masolinos and Masaccios famous frescoes. The Palazzo Medici-Riccardi: Benozzo

ART + CULTURE

Everything fresco

Frescoes reached their splendor in the Renaissance and Baroque periods, and Florence abounds with incredibly beautiful frescoes that the decorate walls and ceilings of churches and cloisters, public buildings and private homes. Understand the work that went into creating these paintings and you will find their beauty even more powerful.

ART + CULTURE

Aldo Moro

One of the most emblematic photographs of the socio-political events that occurred in twentieth-century Italy is that of the crumpled body of statesman Aldo Moro lying dead in the back of a battered, dark red Renault abandoned on via Caetani in Rome, halfway between the headquarters of the

ART + CULTURE

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

ART + CULTURE

Going to the chapel

A chapel is a place for prayer, meditation, or private worship. A recess or small room within a church or cathedral; space in the private quarters of a state building (such as the chapel of Eleonora of Toledo’s chapel in the Palazzo Vecchio); a room in a private

ART + CULTURE

Loris Fortuna

Consumed by passion for his beautiful 16-year-old cousin, Angela, the languid, droopy-eyed Sicilian nobleman, Baron Ferdinand ‘Fefè’ Cefalù decides he must have her at any cost. His big problem is that he is married to a woman with a moustache, Rosalia, with whom

ART + CULTURE

The spy, the prostitute and the talkative Frenchman

Bartolomeo Concini is reporting to his master, Cosimo I de Medici, from the Florentine military camp outside the besieged city of Siena on April 6, 1554:     Messer Giulio de’ Ricasoli has written to tell me that last night he received information from an old Florentine woman who

ART + CULTURE

Donatellos David restoration on display

Donatello’s David (1440), in the National Museum of the Bargello, is undergoing an 18-month restoration. This fifteenth-century bronze statue, the first free-standing nude statue by a Western artist since antiquity, will be cleaned while visitors to the Bargello watch. All the restoration equipment will be

ART + CULTURE

Recommended reading

I have enjoyed many, many books set in Italy or about its people, history, and art. Here are some that I have enjoyed recently and think you might, too:   April Blood, by Lauro Martines, is about Florence and the plot against the Medici by the Pazzi family; in Scourge

ART + CULTURE

Shared secrets

The huge brown stone cube that presides over the Piazza della Signoria and whose tower figures so prominently in Florence’s skyline is equally imposing in the history of Florence. For nearly 700 years, the Palazzo Vecchio (‘Old Palace’) has been the place where civic affairs have

ART + CULTURE

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. &

ART + CULTURE

Artemisia Gentileschi Annunciation

In my research, I have found it puzzling that only one annunciation was cited as done by a woman’s hand. This reference is in Germaine Greer’s book, The Obstacle Race. She mentions an Artemisia Gentileschi Annunciation (1630) in the Capodimonte Museum, Naples, which portrays an interchange

ART + CULTURE

Whining about grapes

Cornelio Bentivoglio writes from Montalcino to fellow officer Giovan Luigi Vitella in Siena on the 5th of July 1559     I wish to find a way to better endure this heat with some type of delicate wine more suited to the season and to my health than those that

ART + CULTURE

Variation on a theme: Annunciation

An annunciation is an announcement, a proclamation. In Christianity, the annunciation is the moment the angel Gabriel appears to the Virgin Mary, telling her that she will bear the son of God. A feast to celebrate this event is observed on March 25, and it is an important subject of

ART + CULTURE

Lina Merlin

In February 1958, the Italian Parliament enacted Law No. 75/1958 or the Law on the Abolition of the Regulation of Prostitution and the Fight Against the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others. Widely called the ‘Merlin’ law, it came into force six months later. The law took

ART + CULTURE

Every life has a meaning, but

I wasn’t surprised to read that Linda Proud spent 11 years researching A Tabernacle for the Sun and Pallas & the Centaur, two of the books that make up her ‘Botticelli Trilogy’.Their erudition, depth and breadth are quite astonishing. They are the work of a

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