After a breakfast of blueberry yogurt, granola and raspberries in our apartment, we went out in hopes of catching the #11 bus into the historic part of Florence. Because it was Labor Day, buses weren’t running on a normal schedule so we had to walk the long haul after all. We stopped at a cafe for croissants and coffee.
We had 10:15-10:30 tickets to Galleria dell’Accademia (Accademia Gallery) and we were able to get in right after arriving. Luckily it wasn’t too crowded. The gallery has a collection of Florentine paintings dating from the 13th to the 18th century. They were beautiful, but honestly, they all seemed to blend together.
The museum houses Michelangelo’s David, the statue of the biblical shepherd boy ready to take on Goliath (or after he’d already taken him on). In 1501, Michelangelo Buonarroti, a 26-year-old Florentine, was commissioned to carve the large-scale David from a single block of marble.
In the Bible story, the Israelites were surrounded by barbarian warriors led by the giant Goliath. The young shepherd boy David stepped out to fight him, armed with a slingshot. He defeats Goliath. Seventeen feet all, he is the symbol of divine victory over evil, a new Renaissance outlook.
Scholars debate whether this representation of David is before or after his victory over Goliath. His sling is barely visible as though to emphasize that he owed his victory not to brute force, but to his intellect and innocence.
Other unfinished works were nearby, including statues giving support to the crippled tied in a rope in the Gipsoteca Bartolini gallery.
In the Nineteenth Century Hall, we found the Gallery of Plaster Casts by Bartolini and Pampaloni. The gallery presents the various types of celebratory, private, or monumental sculpture. The portraits (busts and medallions) belong to a fundamentally private dimension, which Bartolini explored with psychological sensitivity.
There are many religious paintings in the Gallery. Crucifixion with Four Angels, the Virgin, and Saint John the Evangelist was done by Jacopo di Cione. This is one of the rare works with a blue background instead of a gilded one. The background is still abstract and symbolic (blue was the color of divinity) and is still far from the naturalism of skies in Renaissance painting.
Massacre of the Innocents, Adoration of the Magi, Flight into Egypt was done by Bottega Di Jacopo Di Cione. The panel depicts three episodes from Christ’s childhood. The intent was to present the holy stories to the faithful with clarity and simplicity.
Virgin of Humility and an Angel was done by Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci (1360-1365). The title portrays the Virgin seated on the ground, often on a cushion, instead of on a throne as in a Maestà. The Virgin is almost always depicted holding the Christ Child, offering him her breast. The painter was a Camaldolite monk at a monastery in Florence, where he also painted illuminated manuscripts.
Coronation of the Virgin with Angels and Saints is a polyptych, a painting made of multiple panels united in a single complex by the frame. When divided into three parts, it is usually called a triptych. This one is from the Santa Mari di Le Campora monastery in Florence.
This piece bears the name of Jacopo Cambi, the embroiderer who stitched it. This decorated the front of the main altar in Santa Maria Novella church in Florence.
Saint Yves administering Justice (1405-1410) by Maestro di Sant’ivo depicts Saint Yves of Brittany as he administers justice to the poor, the orphans and the widows. The saint gives all his attention to the poor, ignoring the flattery of the rich. Canonized in 1366, Saint Yves is portrayed in jurist’s robes, which recall his activity as an ecclesiastic judge, and his commitment to protecting the rights of the weakest.
Incredulity of Saint Thomas with Prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah, by Giovanni di Francesco Toscani (1419-1420), illustrates a page from the Gospel where Saint Thomas meets the resurrected Christ, not recognizing him until he places his hand into the wounds.
Finally, we saw musical instruments in the Collection of Grand Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici (1665-1713), son of Cosimo III. He combined a passion for art with a passion for music, collecting one of the most extraordinary collections of musical instruments in Europe over only a few years. These pieces are exhibited alongside 17th-century paintings depicting musical life at the court of Ferdinando.
We left Accademia at 11:30, where we were released into the fresh air of Florence.
*Wednesday, May 1, 2019*