Landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes

Mercoledì, 15 Ottobre 2014 on Martedì, 24 Marzo 2015. Posted in Florence art news

The Palatine Gallery - Sala delle Nicchie

Landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes
10/15/2014 - 04/12/2015 Palatine Gallery With a view to valorising its repositories, the Palatine Gallery has a conceived an exhibition in which the leitmotif is the faithful representation of surrounding reality as depicted in maps, images of the territory and depictions of historic events such as festivities and battles. The display itinerary starts with the pictorial representation of various episodes in the battle of Scannagallo by the Flemish artist Jan van der Straet, known as Giovanni Stradano, a page of history encompassing narration of the triumphal Medici consolidation. This section, devoted to the topography of war, also displays two exceptional Battles by Willelm van de Velde the Elder. However the use of perspective, combined with the faithful representation of the vegetable elements of the landscape, may also be used for different purposes: for example in the panel attributed to Biagio d’Antonio – which introduces the section addressing the devotion to places – portraying Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata, the faithful rendering of the landscape is functional to sustaining the faithful during a symbolic pilgrimage towards La Verna. Little more than a century later, in Medici Florence, the monumental city was celebrated in three lunettes portraying processional scenes. With the precision of a chronicle they show the people of Florence engaged in unison in interceding for divine intervention to support the grand ducal dynasty. The topographic view and the modern cartography that emerged in the 15th century are instead evoked here by a seventeenth-century tombola designed by the intellectual Casimire Freschot for the playful instruction in geography and map-reading of the young Venetian patricians. The itinerary then moves on to the vedute in their own right, a genre that began to be consolidated in the 17th century when knowledge of the historically crucial cities, Rome in primis, became an essential element in the cultural baggage of every European prince. This was the period when images such as the miniatures of Cruyl emerged, in which all the characteristics of the streets and squares of the eternal city were drawn with the most lenticular care. It was in this context that the panoramic views of oblong format began to spread, rendered precise by the use of the camera obscura and illustrated here by those executed by Vanvitelli. Also present in this section is a series of small panels depicting the seven wonders of the ancient world which exemplify a particular type of veduta, generated by the printed page rather than a real monument. During the ancien regime the veduta made it possible to record recreational events and entertainments, thereby enabling them to be shared by other courts related through ties of family or friendship. Thus, through a simplified perspective functional to the narration, the two views by Jacob Schlachter reveal the bloody hunting parties organised at the court of Mannheim, while that by Gherardini depicts the Palio dell’antenna in the Medici port of Livorno. The more recent vedute on display here, practically on the eve of the invention of photography, are the small canvases showing the most famous places in Naples, which were painted to be seen against the light, and indeed to be mounted on the windows of the private quarters of the Grand Duchess Maria Antonia of Bourbon after she came to Florence from Naples.