Church of Santa Trinita (Holy Trinity)
Via de' Tornabuoni / Piazza Santa Trinita
Florence, October 2013
“This basilica, founded by the Vallombrosan Order, was built during the 11th century. It was enlarged in the Gothic style during the first thirty years of the 14th century and later on from the end of that century till about 1405. The outside facing in hard sandstone, designed at the end of the 16th century (1593-1594) by Bernardo Buontalenti, displays a double order of composite pilasters, and at its upper central point there is a round window.”
Santa Maria del Rosario (St Mary of the Rosary), commonly known as I Gesuati,
Fondamenta delle Zattere ai Gesuati, Dorsoduro
Venice, September 2013
“Monks from Siena from the order of The Blessed Giovanni Colombino established themselves here in 1392. In 1423 they built an oratory and cloister dedicated to Saint Jerome. (They had previously occupied the nearby church of Sant’Agnese.) A proper church and monastery were built here by the Poor Gesuati order (as they now called themselves) from 1494, consecrated 1524 and dedicated to Our Lady of the Visitation. The order was suppressed in 1668 and in 1669 the Dominicans bought the place and got Giorgio Massari to build the present, much larger, church, beginning work in 1726, to the east of the old church, and finishing it in 1743.”
“The theme of women on a balcony overseen by watchful, somewhat threatening male companions strongly engaged Goya, who treated this subject in a painting now in a private collection. Dating from about 1810, the latter is among Goya's masterpieces. The Metropolitan's painting is sometimes considered a variant composition, its attribution questioned by some experts. Expressively and stylistically, however, the two paintings are quite different and the Metropolitan's painting has suffered from abrasion and past overcleaning.”
“The painting, inspired by The Majas at the balcony by Francisco Goya, was created at the same time and with the same purpose as The Lunch in the workshop. The three characters, who were all friends of Manet, seem to be disconnected from each other: while Berthe Morisot, on the left, looks like a romantic and inaccessible heroine, the young violinist Fanny Claus and the painter Antoine Guillemet seem to display indifference.”
“In the past, this relief was considered to be the actual Dante death mask, carved directly from the face of the lifeless Dante Alighieri. Recent studies, though, consider it more likely that this relief is the cast of a lost sepulchral effigy of Dante. Of course, this theory does not deprive the mask of its value and its suggestive power: that is why the mask is still preserved in the most important palace in Florence.
Dante Alighieri, the Florentine poet and father of the Italian language, died in exile in Ravenna (near Bologna) in 1321. According to tradition, the effigy from which the mask was sculpted was preserved in the tomb of Dante in Ravenna. The mask kept in Palazzo Vecchio was probably carved in 1483 by Pietro and Tullio Lombardo. In the middle of sixteenth century, the mask was donated to sculptor Giambologna, who then gave it to his scholar Pietro Tacca. Dante’s death mask became a model of study for young artists.
Around 1830 the mask belonged to sculptor Lorenzo Bartolini, who donated it to English painter and Dante scholar Seymour Kirkup, also famous for having contributed to the discovery of the portrait of Dante attributed to Giotto in the chapel of the Bargello Palace.
This is why the Dante death mask is also known as Maschera Kirkup (Kirkup Mask). Kirkup’s widow gave the mask to literary critic Alessandro D’Ancona, who was at that time a senator of the Kingdom of Italy.
Senator D’Ancona gave the Dante death mask to the Palazzo Vecchio in 1911.”
Mark of the Württembergische Metallwarenfabrik (Metalware Factory of Wuerttemberg)
Facade of the former WMF Building, Leipziger Straße / Mauerstraße
Berlin, September 2011
“During the 1920s, Abteilung für Galvanoplastik was producing reproductions of large-scale Italian Renaissance bronze works for an American clientele. Albert Weiblen Marble & Granite Co., Inc. of New Orleans pursued the acquisition of a gilt copper reproduction of Ghiberti's ‘Gates of Paradise’. In 1910, the Reale Istituto di Belle Arti had granted WMF the exclusive right to take a sharp cast of the original doors, from which WMF created a reproduction that was exhibited at the International Building Trades Exhibition in Leipzig (1913). WMF produced a trilingual catalog about the doors, titled Erztüre des Hauptportals am Baptisterium in Florenz.”
Lantern of the dome, Saint-Louis des Invalides
Avenue de Tourville, 7e arrondissement
Paris, July 2012
“Shortly after the veterans' chapel was completed, Louis XIV constructed a separate private royal chapel, which was named ‘Église du Dôme’. The architect for the dome was Jules Hardouin-Mansart and the royal chapel stood finished 1706, in which it was inaugurated by the king himself. The royal chapel is considered one of the very finest examples of French Baroque architecture.
The dome itself was inspired by the origin of all Baroque domes; the dome of the grand St. Peters Basilica in Rome. The Église du Dôme has in turn been the inspiration for several other buildings, including the San Francisco City Hall.
In 1989 during the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution, the dome itself was regilded for the 5th time since its creation. During the process, a large number of thin gold leaves were used. The total weight equaled around ten kilos pure gold.”
“This piazza takes its name from the Basilica Santissima Annunziata, Florence, which terminates the axis at one end of a long street, the present Via dei Servi. The street is closed at the other end by Brunelleschi's great dome. The loggias on three sides of the square make it probably the best example of a Renaissance piazza. Broadly speaking the piazza as it now appears represents the general ideas of town planning of Brunelleschi and his contemporaries. Indeed it was Brunelleschi himself who designed the major building in the square, the Ospedale degli Innocenti or the Hospital of the Innocents.”
117-121 Mount Street / 1 Mt Street Mews
City of Westminster
London, October 2009
“Terrace of houses and flats with shops. 1886-7 by James Trant Smith. Red brick and lavish terracotta dressings, slate roofs. Ornate and eclectic exercise in Queen Anne and Flemish styles. Four storeys with dormered and gabled attics. Ground floor mostly original shop fronts with segmented arched display windows framed together with doorways by engaged decorated columns and pilasters supporting continuous entablature with iron cresting. Upper floors have 2 pairs of canted bay windows flanking central bowed oriel rising to shaped gable and at each end of block polygonal corner pavilions with domed attics - mullioned-transomed casements and sashes with glazing bars in architraves. Smaller gabled windows and elliptical arched dormers in roof. Moulded string and sill courses. The east corner pavilion has additional cast iron balconies and inset busts to each floor. Plain brick return elevations. Prominent chimney stacks. Part of the 1880s -90s rebuilding of Mount Street for the Grosvenor Estate.”
“The bridge, made of steel, is the second to have stood at the site. It was constructed between 1903 and 1905, replacing an earlier bridge that had been erected in 1878. An arch bridge, it is 237 metres (777 ft) long and 24.7 metres (81 ft) wide. The bridge has two levels: one for motor vehicles and pedestrians, and a viaduct above, through which passes Line 6 of the Paris Métro. The railway viaduct is supported by metal colonnades, except where it passes over the île aux Cygnes, where it rests on a masonry arch. Many commemorative plates decorate the viaduct bridge, including several dedicated to soldiers fallen in Belgium during the Second World War.”
Taxi Milano 25, Via dei Calzaiuoli
Florence, October 2013
“Most Florentines have seen the taxi brimming with trinkets, toys and flowers. The driver of the most outrageous and child-friendly cab in town is Caterina Bellandi, aka Milano 25. When not working as a taxi driver in the city, she escorts sick children to and from Florence's Meyer hospital, free of charge. What started out as offering free rides to ill kids has completely changed her life. Hers is ‘a mission’, she says, ‘Decorating the taxi is like putting my heart on my sleeve; when I bring my kids to the hospital I want to share my pain and my joy with them ... the taxi is supposed to give them joy.’”
Church of San Luca Evangelista (St Luke the Evangelist)
Fondamenta della Chiesa, San Marco
Venice, September 2013
“Originally built before 1072 by the Dandolo and Pizzamano families, the present church dates from a rebuilding in the mid 16th century. The collapse of part of the façade in 1827 created an urgent need for more rebuilding in 1832, by Sebastiano Santi, with further major work in 1881. Tucked away just North of Campo Manin, opposite a long-disused cinema, it's orangey pink on the outside and not entirely fascinating on the inside. An aisleless nave with deep apsidal chapels, there is a worse-for-wear Veronese, The Virgin Appearing in Glory to Saint Luke, over the high altar and a Palma Giovane, of course.”
“The current clock was built in 1924. It is considered the world's largest clock with a 50' diameter face, and a minute hand that is 25' long. The design was based on Colgate's Octagon Soap. The current Colgate Clock replaced an earlier clock designed by Colgate engineer Warren Day, which was constructed by the Seth Thomas Clock Company for the centennial of the Colgate Company in 1906. That clock had a face measuring 37 1/2 feet in diameter and covering an area of 1,104 square feet. It was installed on the roof of one of the Colgate factory buildings along with its sign that was about 20 feet high.”
“S. Maria in Trastevere was rebuilt in the XIIth century by Pope Innocent II, who belonged to a family of Trastevere; because his appointment was challenged by an antipope who resided in the Vatican, he wanted S. Maria to be a church which could withstand comparison with the great basilicas; it was designed having in mind S. Maria Maggiore and gigantic columns from Terme di Caracalla were employed; the apse was decorated with a large mosaic and a tall bell tower was built to the right of the church; in the following century also the façade was decorated with a mosaic.”
Madonna del Monte (Our Lady of the Mountain) island
Scomenzera San Giacomo, Venetian Lagoon
Venice, October 2013
“The island Madonna del Monte, aka Madonna del Rosario, is a small island in the Venetian lagoon, located on the canal which connects Murano and Burano. It is dying a slow death. It housed a monastery for a period in the middle ages, but then lay abandoned for centuries, until another monastery was founded in the early 18th century. It lasted just one century before being closed and demolished by Napoleon, like so many other monasteries. In the 19th century it was used for gun powder storage, and the current building dates from this period. It is now suffering from death by waves. It once had a perimeter wall, but the intense motor traffic on the nearby canal has caused that wall to crumble and little of anything is now visible to the casual visitor. Once the wall is down, the constant waves quickly erode the sand and dirt the island is made of. The trees and shrubs near the edge die because of the salty water washing over the shore, and without the roots of the plants there is nothing left to keep the island together.”
“Stone bridge built 1821-24 after a design of the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel. The main elements of the bridge's decorations are the eight more-than-life-size sculpture groups on high marble pedestals over the stone bridge piers. The groups show scens from Greek mythology related to warfare. These Carrara marble statues were sculpted between 1847 and 1857 by various students of Christian Daniel Rauch. The red granite pedestals rest on pedestals, they are provided with circular medallions, work of the sculptor Friedrich Wilhelm Wolff, each motif is the image of an eagle with symbolic additions. The original medallions are lost and reconstructed in 1989.”
“In 1771 the neoclassic artist Anton Raphael Mengs took moulds of the parts he considered antique of this sculpture and the version at the Palazzo Pitti (discussed below) and reassembled them in a plaster model that was intended to be more faithful to the Roman original. It was taken away to be further repaired in 1798 and remained in obscurity, undergoing further adjustments by Stefano Ricci in the 1830s, until it was finally re-erected in 1838, in the Loggia dei Lanzi. The feature which still draws most attention is the lifeless hanging left arm of Patroclus, seemingly dislocated, which was in fact part of the Tacca-Salvetti restoration. Other ‘errors’ an archaeologist today would point out, by comparing the fragment with other surviving fragments rather than by relying on his sensitive artistic eye, are the lifted left leg of the bearer and raised right knee of Patroclus, and the picturesquely mounded ground that serves as a base.”
“This war memorial is in the form of a teak crucifix on a Portland stone plinth. The figure of Christ is gilded. The memorial is surrounded by iron railings and there are two Portland stone plaques on the wall of the church behind listing the names of the fallen. The memorial is located adjacent to the Church of the Annunciation, Bryanston Street, Marylebone, London.”
“A statue in Paris of Jean François Champollion, the French archaeologist who deciphered hieroglyphics, has been condemned as ‘derogatory’ and ‘shameful’ by Egyptian Egyptologists. Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi carved the marble statue depicting Champollion standing with his left foot on a pharaonic head in 1875. It was put on display in the Parc Egyptian created by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette for the Universal Exhibition of 1877. It was originally intended to be transported to Figeac, the birthplace of Champollion, but the project did not find sufficient support and it remained in Paris. In 1878, the statue was placed in its current location in the courtyard of the Collège de France. The statue has triggered the anger of Egyptian Egyptologists and the antiquities ministry.”
“‘Don't expect a blinded lady with scales and all those things from me,’ said sculptor Jacques Lipchitz when Columbia Law School approached him in 1964 to create a work of art on the campus. ‘I will try to think of something else.’ The result is the 23-ton bronze sculpture ‘Bellerophon Taming Pegasus’ towering above the west entrance of Jerome Greene Hall on Revson Plaza. At approximately 30 by 28 feet and nearly five stories high, the outdoor sculpture is one of New York City’s largest. Lipchitz's sculpture depicts the Greek hero Bellerophon wrestling with the winged horse Pegasus, whose hooves, wings and tail radiate in all directions. The tangle of bodies stands precariously atop a base that looks like a giant railroad spike driven into the stairs.”