Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spring, Heartbreak & Da Vinci

Sun and warmth finally arrived in Florence & Tuscany this past Sunday, April 14.
Yesterday I caught librarian Joanna June in the act of taking a picture of our now blossoming wisteria vine (see previous post) in the Borgo Albizi courtyard.  Joanna, who has kindly allowed Beautiful Florence to publish her photo, works at the Florence campus of Florida State University, which is located in the same building as our office.
All sweetness and light after a long, chilly and record-breaking
 wet and never-ending winter it would seem.
It was... until an event turned the blood in my veins into ice.
"Bombs on the Marathon," screamed the Repubblica headline.
Oh, my God, the Boston marathon.

If I turn my head, I can see my framed masters degree from Boston University, where I commuted from 
where I was living in Cambridge, initially Fresh Pond, then behind Harvard Yard.
The marathon finish line is on Boylston St. close to Copley
and the venue of my first job, on Park Street.

Participants tackled Heartbreak Hill near the end, only to run down to face real heartbreak.
Boston and Florence are living examples of the world's intellectual capacities and freedom, accompanied by a good dose of heart.

Besides showing that spring has finally sprung in Florence, I meant to write about the 
current restoration of a 1480 Leonardo da Vinci work.  This report is timed to coincide with the airing of an historical fantasy,"Da Vinci Demons," based on the early life of the Renaissance genius
 later this month on the Fox channel.
According to Dr. Maurizio Seracini, Leonardo completed the underdrawing for the Adoration of the Magi which did not win the favor of the commissioning San Donato a Scopeto monastery.  Da Vinci departed for Milan, other artists added color, glue and retouches on top before the oil on panel disappeared into the monastery storeroom.  Resurrected by the Uffizi Gallery in 1670, the Adoration of the Magi remained on public view before disappearing again into the hands of restorers at the Fortezza da Basso laboratory of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure.
Out of view, that is, except to professional journalists, including your faithful Beautiful Florence blogger, who were called in to hear restorers pronounce the diagnosis above.  They also mentioned that the wooden support was not in great shape either, causing pigment to detach.
The restoration was announced to be conservative, that is, a cleaning plus strengthening the support.
When the monochrome masterpiece returns to the Uffizi, visitors will be able to better admire such details as the magnificent horse's head clearly drawn by no other than Leonardo da Vinci.
Part of the reason possibly why the nascent work failed to find favor 
is that behind the serene Virgin Mary and Child is a battle scene!
Leonardo da Vinci is remembered for his unique brand of three-dimensional realism, given depth by a play of chiaroscuro (light and shadow).   In the Adoration of the Magi (photos courtesy of the Fine Arts Ministry, Florence), didn't da Vinci simply give a sublime summary of the human condition?
In the foreground, the Three Kings, form a triangular composition around the Virgin Mary and Child they are adoring.  After all, this is their reward for listening to their hearts and following a star
to the ultimate Redeemer.

The rest is just strife, conflict and bloodshed...just like that found at the bottom of Boston's
 Heartbreak Hill.

Over six centuries later, Leonardo da Vinci's encapsulation of the life's peace and drama 
remain contemporary and timeless.
No need for color, the painting as it appears can be considered finished--there is no more to say...

     Reporting live from Beautiful Florence
                                -- Rosanna

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