Day 30: Firenze fourth day of school—at the Uffizi

Rain was in the afternoon forecast but the morning started sunny. I walked to the Uffizi early to enjoy the quieter streets and try to sketch.

For class we focussed on Mannerism starting with Michelangelo. If Mannerism is a reaction to the perfect depictions by Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo, later Michelangelo has been said to turn Mannerist upon himself. His Doni Tondo displays the unnatural colours, twisted bodies, diagonal foci and minimal background seen in later Mannerism.

Mannerism gets dismissed for being repetitive copies but the Uffizi holds some masterpieces.

Andrea del Sarto’s Madonna del’Arpi, arpi are harpies and the theme is apocalyptic. Mary’s foot keeps a lid on a well preventing harpies or creatures from hell emerging. The cherubi or little angels holding onto her legs look afraid. It’s an unusual subject.

Rosso Fiorentino, whose name was Giovanni Battista di Jacopo (1495-1540), belonged to the Florentine school. His red hair and birth in Florence gave him his nickname. He trained with Andrea del Sarto alongside Pontormo. His masterpiece is generally considered to be the Deposition or Descent from the Cross altarpiece now in the Pinacoteca Comunale di Volterra. He kind of exemplifies the strangeness of Mannerism.

Pontormo’s Supper at Emmaus is a subject taken up twice by Caravaggio. These painters are in the post Martin Luther Protestant movement era but before rules about art are set by the Council of Trent.

Pontormo’s Madonna with babies Jesus and John the Baptist is quite sweet and intimate.

As is this Correggio.

Parmigianino’s Madonna of the Long Neck, as it’s nicknamed, is one of the most famous Mannerist works containing allegory and references now lost. Its intent, in part, was to display the erudition and sophistication of the owner.

Agnolo di Cosimo (1503-1572), usually known as Bronzino, was a Mannerist painter from Florence. Bronzino may refer to his relatively dark skin or reddish hair. He trained with Pontormo but his style, particularly in people, is more calm, reserved and less emotional than his teacher although both feature elongated and elegant figures. He worked with Pontormo on the Capponi Chapel but much of his work was on the dome which was lost when the dome was altered, possibly, for the Vasari Corridor. He was the court painter of Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.

This portrait of one of Cosimo’s children always makes me laugh. He looks like he’s about to eat that bird in his hand.

It may be worth noting that partly because of Mannerism straying into strange subjects and styles, the Catholic church’s Council of Trent in the mid-1500s set rules for religious art, which would get applied to artists like Veronese and continued to Caravaggio in the early 1600s and beyond.

Not Mannerist but not to be missed:

Leonardo Da Vinci
Artemisia Gentilleschi

And some dogs:


After my lesson and taking in more of the Uffizi, as this was my last full day in Florence, I had lunch at Golden View restaurant where we ate in 2009.

Then I joined the school group tour of the church of Santa Maria Novella. The instructor and 5 other students on the tour all commented they hadn’t seen me before.

Santa Maria Novella is the major Dominican church built, like Santa Croce and the Duomo, during the Medieval era but had its facade added later, in this case, during the Renaissance, so before Santa Croce and the Duomo.

Giotto’s cross

It’s famous for housing Massacio’s Trinity, a fresco displaying perfect single point perspective.

Also a chapel of Ghirlandio and his workshop’s frescoes.

A Crucifixion some allege was done by Brunelleschi but others question the attribution.

Here’s a Last Judgment fresco done 20 years after Dante’s Divine Comedy was published and shows his circles of hell.

I think I’ve described Giorgio Vasari, court painter to Duke Cosimo I, but who is omnipresent in Florence, less because of his paintings, which are everywhere but not greatly admired, but more because of his architectural work. He has done work on Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce, as well as Palazzo Vecchio and of course, built the Vasari Corridor linking the Uffizi to Palazzo Pitti. He’s most famous as basically inventing art history with his book Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects. He was one busy person.

When I left Santa Maria Novella, I was planning to visit the church nicknamed Ognissanti, but it poured rain and for about a minute hailed. My waterproof shoes and umbrella did not keep my legs from getting wet through my rain soaked pants. I decided to call it quits on the art viewing. I needed to dry my clothes and get my packing organized to leave.

Calcio or soccer fans waiting to board the buses for a Europa league semi-final match between Fiorentina and Basel. Fiorentina lost the first of the two games. This gathering started over 3 hours before the match started. As almost everyone was drinking, this partly explains the hooliganism that can happen at the stadium. Even the rain doesn’t stop the party.

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