I had purchased a book called “An Art Lover’s Guide to Florence”. I love this book. I actually even wound up sending copy of it to a dear friend who was heading to Florence in the near future. I will tell more about beautiful, beloved Sarah later in my story. She is part of my love of Florence.
Here is the Amazon description of the book:
“No city but Florence contains such an intense concentration of art produced in such a short span of time. The sheer number and proximity of works of painting, sculpture, and architecture in Florence can be so overwhelming that Florentine hospitals treat hundreds of visitors each year for symptoms brought on by trying to see them all, an illness famously identified with the French author Stendhal.
While most guidebooks offer only brief descriptions of a large number of works, with little discussion of the historical background, Judith Testa gives a fresh perspective on the rich and brilliant art of the Florentine Renaissance in An Art Lover’s Guide to Florence. Concentrating on a number of the greatest works, by such masters as Botticelli and Michelangelo, Testa explains each piece in terms of what it meant to the people who produced it and for whom they made it, deftly treating the complex interplay of politics, sex, and religion that were involved in the creation of those works.”
They are not kidding about the syndrome that one can suffer when one is tempted to absorb too much art (and it is so very tempting to do so). It is called Stendhal’s Syndrome and I have felt its’ effects many times!
i did know this, which is emphasized in the book, that you can view the art and architecture in Florence for its’ surface beauty, but each piece and each building was created in the context of time, place, developments and politics.
For me, knowing some of this information makes the experience of viewing much richer. It brings more understanding and fascination. It gets my imagination going and wondering what it was like to live during those medieval and renaissance times.
I read in this book about a museum called Orsanmichele. It was only open on Mondays and my first full day was my only Monday in Florence, so I put that on my first-day priority list.
Orsanmichele is famously known for the sculptures of saints placed in the niches or tabernacles on all four sides of the church by the various guilds of Florence. Executed between 1340 and 1602, they form a timeline of gothic and renaissance art that is perhaps unrivaled in one location.
The museum was simple, elegant, quiet and peaceful. It was a lovely experience and it was from within this place that I was able to take the shot of the Duomo that is my feature photo on this blog. You can see the windows in the photo on this post from which I took that photo. It being Europe, where people and lawyers are not lawsuit crazy, the windows which were on the second floor–could be opened wide, and no one stopped me from doing so. Because of this, I was able to take that shot of the Duomo without any window glare. And I caught the shot with the beautiful cloud formations and colors. Ten minutes later, the clouds had passed. I took more shots then, with the clear blue sky, but they did not compare to the one with the depth and interest of the clouds!
It was proving to to be a good first day!