Friday, December 25, 2015

A Florence 2015 Christmas Card

Your Beautiful Florence blogger returned from an eventful trip from the south of Italy regarding family matters on December 18, and on the morning of the 19th, attended a press conference connected with the Uffizi.  The event was to present Florence's annual Christmas gift, a free exhibition called "The Never Seen" (I Mai Visti) with works coming from the gallery's storerooms.

This year's theme, the mythological and archetypal story of Hercules as portrayed in sculpture and paintings from the Roman times to the 17th century, was gorgeous but apart from the gemlike glow of some of the pigments, not particularly in synch with the season.  The event, however, was the prelude of my discovery of Beautiful Florence's 2015 Christmas card.

Drinks and finger food were offered to the journalists on the Uffizi terrace.
The medieval Palazzo Vecchio, loomed nearby--the building seemed so close that one could almost reach out and touch the stonework. 

Finished at the end of the 13th century, Palazzo Vecchio, originally called the Palazzo dei Priori, was constructed as the headquarters of the Florentine republic.  Half fortress, half city hall, it was the seat of a European powerhouse--by the 1290s Florence was one of Europe's five largest cities, with a population of about 100,000.  Commerce and a booming textile industry also made it one of Europe's wealthiest.  The rich merchants and nobles who governed Florence (has much changed eight centuries later?) wanted a building that would communicate the power of their republic, governed at that time by the Florentine people.

After the respite in the tepid winter sun, to exit, I had to walk down an endless corridor encompassing half of the Uffizi.  Chronologically organized according to theme, I stumbled upon Room 71 (of 93!!)

My feet were beginning to feel weary, but however, the rich collection of paintings beckoned me to stop and look.

Then, I saw it.

Correggio's Madonna and Child Between Two Angel Musicians (1515-16).

Antonio Allegri da Correggio (from Correggio, a town in nearby region of Emilia) created this work early in his career.  The background is pure gold, a throwback to earlier Italian primitive  fondo oro masterpieces without a realist background; here, however, the figures are completely naturalistic.
Correggio's birthplace was absorbed into the Duchy of Modena, a sweeter, gentler place than Florence, also evidence by the local cuisine.  The artist Correggio's depiction of the Madonna and Child is, in fact, tender.  The lessons of the Renaissance are evident in the play of light and shadow (chiaroscuro), as seen in the left angels's wing with the lighting obscured by Mary's veil.

Correggio worked at the court of Mantua, which place a great emphasis on music.  When looking at the painting, on can almost hear the celestial Christmas music from the harp and violin.

The Madonna and Child Between Two Angel Musicians is believed to have belonged to the last Medici ruler, Anna Maria Luisa, who prized it so much that she took it with her when she left Florence to marry a German prince.  Upon his death, it returned to the city, and later became part of the Uffizi collection that she willed to Florence for posterity.

Mary is wearing a robe of dark pink rose draped in lapis lazzuli, the Child reaches toward an angel, other-worldly seraphim adore from above and below, sense of stillness and peace pervades all in a precious setting of gold.

Light, color and sound, beauty and balance: 
a Child is born this day.

Buon Natale from
Beautiful Florence
                  -- Rosanna

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