from the art Magazine

Renaissance reveries

The Fountain of Neptune in front of Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria.

The Fountain of Neptune in front of Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria.  

The writer marvels at the masterpieces of Florence.

I wandered around the stony streets of Florence filled with amazement and questions — questions about the origins of the art that I saw and amazement at the curators and restorers of these historical creations.

While rushing to the Galleria dell’Accademia (better known as Accademia Gallery) that houses Michelangelo’s magnificent David, the life along the cobbled pathway successfully distracted me. Often I found myself halting under the delicately twisted iron street lamps or at small shops with quirky window displays. When I finally reached the gallery, I sifted through other prominent artworks like the serpentine-shaped Rape of the Sabines by Jean de Boulogne and the recently restored golden Coronation of the Virgin by Jacopo di Cione.

As I walked into the hallway, there it was — the masterpiece from the Renaissance era. The statue stood 14-feet-tall. As I walked around David, I watched his eyes, which seemed to change expressions with every turn I took. I stood gawking at his powerful arms, his deep veins and his determined eyes. Photography is not permitted and I doubt if my camera could have captured what my eyes saw.

I walked towards the Piazza Duomo, and caught my first glimpse of Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence Duomo). The intricately-designed outer Gothic façade of this cathedral was only a preliminary glimpse of the magnificence inside. The dome was engineered and completed by Filippo Brunelleschi, whose statue is now seen outside the cathedral.

Passing by dimly lit candles, I stood under the biggest fresco; the work of Giorgio Vasari. The Last Judgement took two years to complete and, though it was designed by Vasari, the concluding painting was done by his student, Federico Zuccaro.

I then made my way to the well-known Piazza del Signoria in the afternoon, the centre of political and civic life of ancient Florence. Though surprised by the replica of Michelangelo’s David, I took this opportunity to photograph it. This part of the city is adorned by Bandinelli’s Hercules and Cacus, Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabines and the stark Perseo holding Medusa’s head by Cellini.

My next stop was Florence’s top art gallery, Uffizi, not knowing that it is home to some of the greatest artworks in the world. Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation and Caravaggio’s exquisite work stayed with me even after I left. I had no idea how time passed by as I walked through the halls.

That night, I sat in a cosy café in Piazza del Signoria and reminded myself that there was more to come. The next day, I queued up to climb up to Brunelleschi’s cupola, atop Florence Duomo. Making my way through the claustrophobic spiral stairs, I was spellbound by Vasari’s Renaissance fresco. Soon I was staring at the geometrically symmetrical orange roofs that defined Florence.

My last evening was spent by the banks of the Arno, my favourite part of the artsy Tuscany. I was going through every detail that I had seen. Every corner here was adorned by flowers, and every door with an artefact. With musicians busking along the bridge, I watched the sun set and wondered how I was ever going to recover from this masterpiece of nature.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 3:52:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/magazine/renaissance-reveries/article6818410.ece

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