My trip to Florence is not until May and I have two milestones before that.
December 25th and January 1 are the same: the enjoyment and the passing of the holiday season.
Sooner than we think.
Look at what happened to Thanksgiving.
After all that planning and effort, it’s come and gone.
After the holiday season comes my personal end of winter’s grip: Valentine’s Day, or, as we called it at Dom’s, “Rookies Night Out.”
Two, three, four weeks at most, left to winter.
Days are noticeably longer.
We can get through it.
Like Thanksgiving and Christmas, Valentine’s Day will come and go.
And then Florence will loom.
If I’m not prepared I will have a panic attack.
So at least I can make out a macro to-do list, now.
Before I get hit by another bicycle. 😊
Four complete days in Florence.
The plane tickets already bought for late May.
Four elegant meals
I want to be wowed.
And a commodious place to stay.
One room for the four days.
For the meals and the hotel, I’ll wait until January when the new Michelin Guide to Tuscany will arrive.
Florence is a small city, eminently walkable in terms of distance.
Although too many uncomfortably narrow sidewalks.
The walking routes will take shape as we decide which buildings we will be going to.
The great piazzas included in the walking trips.
And the great cafes.
And the great ice cream.
All connected by our movements from one place to another.
Michelangelo being from Florence, virtually adopted at age fifteen by Lorenzo de Medici, his early art, including the David, are found in Florence.
Our quest to see ALL of his Florence pieces will form the spine of our itinerary and will include stops at the Casa Buonarotti, the Bargello, the Accademia, the Uffizi, the Medici Chapel, the Laurentian Library, the Palazzo Vecchio, and the Duomo.
Some of these stops will be pretty quick, like three in one day.
Others will take a good deal of time, especially the Uffizi.
Which brings us to the reason we’ve discussed so much art recently.
Because, while the walking, food, cafes, and ice cream are great, the essential lure of Florence is its art and architecture.
Set in front of the great David, I don’t want simply to open my mouth in awe.
I want to understand the importance of his oversized right hand.
How Michelangelo solved the problem of the damaged marble block.
How he achieved stability in the huge piece.
What is David thinking while he stared at his enemy.
I want to spend a significant amount of time to suck it in; to come away requited.
To put myself in that position, I am doing a good deal of reading on Michelangelo.
And sharing on our blog what I think is interesting.
Either to expand the ways we look at any piece of art or to simply enjoy the entries as stories.
Wish everyone could come.
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
My 236th consecutive posting.
Time is 12.01am.
Boston’s temperature will reach a high of 38* but with a feel of just 23*!
Winter weather with the breeze.
It will test my will: will I go out from my four hour outdoor bit or fink out and stay close to home?
I hate the cold.
Dinner is Clam Chowder and a Lobster Roll made on an Iggy’s French Roll.
Question of the Day:
Who was Simonetta Vespucci?
Love your notes.
Contact me @ email@example.com
This from Tommie Toner, my favorite artist:
hope you have recouped from the bike accident.
Trauma like that can result in much soreness even if no bones are fractured.
At my "youthful" age, when I fall, it takes a few days to heal!
Just took a three day oil workshop with Michael Story in Beaufort.
He is a local artist who has made good.
It was a wonderful learning experience, but I am dead tired!
Such is life!
Take care of yourself! There are places to go and people to meet!
Web Meister Responds:
Love hearing from you, Tommie. Always in a flurry of activity.
Yes, I have recouped from the accident.
What remains is the experience of waking up not knowing what happened to the world while I was out.
Useful experience for the time we don’t wake up at all.
Or is it?
Answer to Question:
Simonetta Vespucci (née Cattaneo; 1453 – 26 April 1476), nicknamed la bella Simonetta, was an Italian noblewoman from Genoa, the wife of Marco Vespucci of Florence and the cousin-in-law of Amerigo Vespucci.
She was known as the greatest beauty of her age in Northern Italy, and was allegedly the model for many paintings by Sandro Botticelli, Piero di Cosimo, and other Florentine painters.
Some art historians have taken issue with these attributions, which the Victorian critic John Ruskin has been blamed for promulgating.
Portrait of a Woman by the workshop of Sandro Botticelli, early-mid 1480s
© José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro /
Second from left:
Portrait of a Woman by the workshop of Sandro Botticelli, mid-1480s
The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202.
Second from right:
Flora in The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, circa 1484-1486
Detail of one of the Three Graces in Primavera by Sandro Botticelli, circa 1482Sandro Botticelli - http://www.googleartproject.com/collection/uffizi-gallery/artwork/la-primavera-spring-botticelli-filipepi/331460/
Simonetta Vespucci was born Simonetta Cattaneo circa 1453 in a part of the Republic of Genoa that is now in the Italian region of Liguria.
A more precise location for her birthplace is unknown: possibly the city of Genoa, or perhaps either Portovenere or Fezzano.
The Florentine poet Politian wrote that her home was "in that stern Ligurian district up above the seacoast, where angry Neptune beats against the rocks ...
There, like Venus, she was born among the waves."
Her father was a Genoese nobleman named Gaspare Cattaneo della Volta (a much-older relative of a sixteenth-century Doge of Genoa named Leonardo Cattaneo della Volta) and her mother was Gaspare's wife, Cattocchia Spinola.
At age sixteen she married Marco Vespucci, son of Piero, who was a distant cousin of the explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci.
They met in April 1469, when she was with her parents at the church of San Torpete in Genoa; the doge Piero il Fregoso and much of the Genoese nobility were present.
Marco had been sent to Genoa by his father, Piero, to study at the Banco di San Giorgio.
Smitten with Simonetta, Marco was accepted by her parents as his daughter's prospective bridegroom; they likely felt that the marriage would be advantageous because Marco's family was well connected in Florence, especially to the Medici family.
Simonetta and Marco were married in Florence that same year.
According to legend, Simonetta quickly became popular at the Florentine court, and attracted the interest of the Medici brothers, Lorenzo and Giuliano.
Lorenzo permitted the Vespucci wedding to be held at the palazzo in Via Larga, and held the wedding reception at their lavish Villa di Careggi.
At La Giostra (a jousting tournament) in 1475, held at the Piazza Santa Croce, Giuliano entered the lists bearing a banner upon which was a picture of Simonetta as a helmeted Pallas Athene, painted by Botticelli, beneath which was the French inscription La Sans Pareille, meaning "The Unparalleled One."
Giuliano won the tournament, and nominated Simonetta as “The Queen of Beauty” at that event.
It is clear that Simonetta had a reputation as an exceptional beauty in Florence, but Giuliano's display should be considered within the conventions of courtly love.
Simonetta was a married woman and a member of a powerful family allied to the his.
It is unknown and unlikely that they became lovers.
Simonetta Vespucci died just one year later, most likely from tuberculosis, on the night of 26–27 April 1476.
She was twenty-two at the time of her death.
She was carried through the city in an open coffin for all to admire, and there may have have existed a posthumous cult about her in Florence.[
Her husband remarried soon afterward.
Giuliano de Medici was assassinated in the Pazzi conspiracy in 1478, two years to the day after Simonetta's death.
Among other subjects, Sandro Botticelli painted portraits of noblewomen, several of which are attributed as portraits of Simonetta, but proof is difficult to establish.
It has been postulated that some of his later works also contain representations of her.
He finished one of his most famous paintings, The Birth of Venus, around 1486, 10 years after Simonetta's death; some have claimed that Venus, in this painting, closely resembles her.
This claim, however, is dismissed as a "romantic myth" by Ernst Gombrich, and "romantic nonsense" by historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto:
The vulgar assumption, for instance, that she was Botticelli's model for all his famous beauties seems to be based on no better grounds than the feeling that the most beautiful woman of the day ought to have modelled for the most sensitive painter.
Some art historians, including John Ruskin, suggest that Botticelli had fallen in love with Simonetta, a view supported by Botticelli's request to be buried in the Church of Ognissanti — the parish church of the Vespucci — in Florence.
His wish was carried out when he died 34 years later, in 1510.
However, this had been Botticelli's parish church since he was baptized there, the church contained works by him, and he was buried with his family.
Regarding each Portrait of a Woman pictured above, credited to the workshop of Sandro Botticelli, Ronald Lightbown claims they were creations of Botticelli's workshop that were likely neither drawn nor painted exclusively by Botticelli himself.
Regarding these two paintings he also notes that "[Botticell's work]shop...executed portraits of ninfe, or fair ladies...all probably fancy portraits of ideal beauties, rather than real ladies."
Simonetta Vespucci may also be depicted in the painting by Piero di Cosimo titled Portrait of a woman, said to be of Simonetta Vespucci, which portrays a woman as Cleopatra, with an asp around her neck.
Yet how closely this resembles Simonetta is uncertain, not least because it is a posthumous portrait created about 14 years after her death. (Worth noting as well is the fact that Piero di Cosimo was only 14 years old the year of Simonetta's death.)
The museum that currently houses this painting, the Musée Condé, questions the identity of its alleged subject and titles it "Portrait of a woman, said to be of Simonetta Vespucci", noting that the inscription of her name at the bottom of the painting may have been added at a later date.
Botticelli painted the standard carried by Giuliano at the joust in 1475, which carried an image of Pallas Athene that was very probably modeled on her; so he does seem to have painted her once at least, though that particular image is now lost.
Botticelli's principal Medici patron, Giuliano's younger cousin Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici, married Simonetta's niece Semiramide in 1482, and it is likely that Botticelli's famed allegory Primavera was painted as a wedding gift for this occasion.
Again, this is a work that some have claimed contains a representation of Simonetta.
Good morning on this Monday, December 4, Christmas now 21 days away.
We talked about how fast time moves, Thanksgiving now a memory, Hanukkah zipping past, Christmas to follow.
And we talked about forming my trip to Florence, getting the most our destination.
Spoke to Tommie Toner.
And, finally, a long piece on Simonetta Vespucci. So lovely. So much to live for, but death takes whom it pleases.
Che vuoi? Le pocketbook?
See you soon.