An unexpected academic painter among the self-portraits of the Uffizi
The self-portrait by Neapolitan Filippo Balbi (1872) is a brilliant synthesis of an inventive and particular painter’s thought, poised between a certain traditionalism, apparent in his means of expression, and the strong conservatism of his contents. Indeed, in his "Time in the act of veiling Truth" and "St. Francis Xavier in ecstasy" - two cartoons originally hanging on his studio’s back wall - the artist gave clear evidence of his aim to provide allegorical and sacred subjects with the same importance. Yet Balbi gave his whole production’s pride of place to his most original painting by placing it on the easel in front of which he portrays himself. It is "The Anatomical Head", a flayed human head seen from its side, a single body composed of a tangle of naked figures with which the painter caused a big sensation at the 1855 Universal Exposition in Paris.
The Madonna by Agostino di Duccio in Pontremoli: 'a true masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture'. The novel-esque attempted theft in 1911, the application of law 364/1909 and Peleo Bacci's unpublished report (1911)
Article in italian | Over the centuries, the sculpture of Madonna con il Bambino by Agostino di Duccio, preserved in the church of San Francesco in Pontremoli, has been involved in extraordinary events, as reflected by its change in title: Madonna del core, Madonna di marmo, Madonna dell’Adorazione.This study, after summarising the historical-critical events of the work, focuses on what happened in 1911. A '"novel-esque" case, as it was immediately dubbed, emerges from the unpublished papers of the trial that began in 1911, went to verdict in 1915 and was the subject of two further trials in 1916. This case is one of the first cases of the application of Law 364/1909 and is indicative of the typical antiques market of the early 20th century.In the appendix, Peleo Bacci's unpublished historical-artistic report highlights the uniqueness of the Pontremoli sculpture as a "single work [by Agostino], composed of a bas-relief and a full relief", a testament to Agostino's "creative spirit".
Baldassarre Turini, patron of architecture
Article in italian | Baldassarre Turini was the most important Pescia native of the sixteenth century. Alongside his work as a churchman and politician, his activities as a patron of architecture also stand out. Though he chose to live and work in Rome, Pescia also remained pivotal for him: he was, in fact, one of the greatest proponents of the birth of the Diocese of Pescia as Prepositura nullius. In Rome, he commissioned Giulio Romano to design the villa on the Janiculum Hill, one of the few examples of a Roman vineyard from the years around the time of the Sack, while the two palaces designed at different times for Piazza Nicosia and Sant'Eustachio remained at the planning stage. The commissions for Pescia were more fortunate: the chapel-mausoleum, built between 1537 and 1542, still survives today and the palace located on Piazza Grande existed until the beginning of the twentieth century. The aim of this study is to reconstruct, for the first time, the thread of Turini's architectural commissions between Rome and Pescia.
“Così strepitosi, così guizzanti, svolazzanti, e quel ch’è più, così facili e franchi, che sembrano del suo Maestro”. Four new drawings by Pietro Faccini from the archives of Annibale and Agostino Carracci in the Uffizi
Article in italian | The study begins with the return of four drawings to Pietro Faccini, traditionally listed as by Annibale and Agostino Carracci in the inventories of the Uffizi Galleries and identified as part of the systematic work involving the revision of the authorship of the various archives of the Florentine collection carried out by the Euploos project. Reclassification, as is customary in Euploos, involves reconstructing the network of relationships that the individual pieces weave with other works of art, inside and outside the collection, and with written sources, starting with the historical inventories of the Uffizi Galleries, but also, for example, with the biographies of the artists, in this case involving those of Carlo Cesare Malvasia and Filippo Baldinucci. The investigation, therefore, meticulously traces this complicated system of relationships, going backwards in time, and ultimately goes back to a precise historical context, where, in all likelihood, the exchange between Faccini and the two Carracci brothers took place, found in the earliest phase of the collection, founded by the prince, later cardinal, Leopoldo de' Medici.
Girolamo Fantini at Pitti Palace
Article in italian | The historical context, and not least the resemblance, allow us to identify a portrait of Girolamo Fantini, a famous trumpeter, born in Spoleto in 1600, in a fresco painted in one of the rooms of the Treasury of the Grand Dukes in the museum complex of Pitti Palace. The paintings, created by the Bolognese artists Angelo Michele Colonna and Agostino Mitelli, started in 1637, were completed in 1641 with the third and final room of the apartments where the depiction of the 'trumpeter' can be found.Retracing the main stages of Fantini's career, in 1626 we can find him in the financial books of Cardinal Scipione Borghese in Rome, where the musician remained in service until October 1630, before moving permanently to Florence. However, the event that would consolidate his fame was the famous concert he gave with Girolamo Frescobaldi at Cardinal Borghese's in Rome, presumably in 1634. Confirming this fame, in 1637 the chronicles of the marriage of Grand Duke Ferdinand II described the 'mastery of the trumpet of Girolamo, famous trumpet of H.H.'. This was followed by the publication of Modo per imparare a sonare di tromba, printed by Fantini in 1638.
Onorio Marinari's sketch for San Mauro che risana gli storpi in the Badia Fiorentina Abbey
Article in italian | The contribution presents the unpublished preparatory sketch made by Onorio Marinari (1627-1716) for the altarpiece with San Mauro che risana gli storpi aimed for the Covoni patronage chapel in the Badia Fiorentina Abbey. As early as 1631, the Covoni family had obtained the space adjacent to the façade from the monks of the Abbey, which was reserved for the erection of a new chapel. The chapel, however, was not built until the beginning of the 1660s, when Abbot Placido Puccinelli of Pescia (1609-1685) promoted the introduction of the cult of St Maurus at the Abbey. The discovery, following recent restoration work, of the painter's signature and the date of execution (1664), affixed to the altarpiece, allow us to date the relevant sketch to the previous year, also taking into account that, as suggested by the Memorie fiorentine drawn up by Francesco Settimanni in the eighteenth century, the finished altarpiece must have already been placed on site at the beginning of January of that year.
Luigi Molinelli "Florentine architectural painter"
Article in italian | The text appears to be the first account of the activity of the Florentine Luigi Molinelli (1753-1798), a painter virtually unknown today, but who in the late 18th century was one of the most popular draughtsmen, decorators and fresco painters at the Lorraine court, bearing witness to the moment of transition between the late Baroque taste and the birth of Neoclassicism in Florence. He became a professor at the Academy of Design in 1787, and worked as a decorator and 'architectural painter' on important city building sites of the time. His artistic qualities are such that many of the sights of the grand-ducal capital, belonging to the Uffizi Department of Prints and Drawings, and until now considered the work of the renowned Giuseppe Zocchi, must instead be traced back to him.
La Galerie de Florence by Alexandre Dumas, or the novel about art in the Uffizi
Article in italian | In January 1841, the release of the first issue of the Galerie de Florence, an ambitious project edited by Lorenzo Bartolini, Giuseppe Bezzuoli and Samuele Jesi, offered nothing new. However, it was made unique by an exceptional editor, who had recently arrived in Florence: Alexandre Dumas, who, fleeing from his debts in Paris, infused his personality and talent into an already defined publishing programme, transforming it into an atypical 'novel about art' in which the history of the Medici and Lorraine families is 'picturesquely' interwoven with the history of painting, biographies of artists and dozens of commentaries on the works reproduced on the exquisite engraved plates.The account of the origin and making of this work with its complex publishing history aims to draw attention to a little-known text in which the novelist-poet, the author of The Three Musketeers, reinvents himself as an art historian for the occasion.
Da Giovanni Boldini a Pietro Annigoni: la collezione Eliseo-Praitano
Article in italian | The Eliseo-Praitano collection, housed in the Palazzo Pistilli in Campobasso and the Castello di Capua in Gambatesa, brings together objects and works of art mostly from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. A long process of collecting, begun in the 1930s thanks to Giuseppe Ottavio Eliseo, painter and collector, and ended in the early 2000s by the doctor Michele Praitano. The collection includes mainly Italian art pieces, but also includes important works by foreign artists: among others, the Scottish landscape painter George Lowthian Hall and the American Gilbert Munger. Its greatest strengths come together on the substantial body of works by Pietro Annigoni, whom Praitano had known personally, and on the Neapolitan school of the nineteenth century. The paintings are complemented by works of sculpture, applied arts and furniture from different periods and origins. This contribution reconstructs the rather casual dynamics according to which the collection, born and raised with Giuseppe Ottavio Eliseo, took shape as a result of the fundamental passing on the torch to Michele Praitano.