La Villa Medicea La Petraia est une villa médicéenne qui se situe dans la zone collinaire du Castello, au 40 de la Via Petraia 40 à Florence.
En 1364, le palagio della Petraia appartenait à la famille Brunelleschi. En 1422, Palla Strozzi l’a acquis en lui ajoutant les terres adjacentes. Au XVIe siècle, la villa devint la propriété des Salutati, qui la vendent ensuite à Cosme Ier de Médicis qui, en 1544, la donne à son fils, le cardinal Ferdinand en 1568.
Les travaux d’embellissement de 1566 furent étendus par Ferdinand, devenu Grand-duc en 1587, qui le transforma en une résidence digne d’un Prince. En 1589, la villa est assignée à son épouse Christine de Lorraine pour ses noces. La villa passe sous l’apanage de Don Antonio de Médicis en 1609.
Maybe Helen of Troy’s beauty launched a thousand ships but Sandro Botticelli’s paintings of Venus, Pallas Athena, Simonetta Vespucci and other women, both real and mythical, have inspired countless imitations that will form a constellation of ideal and profane love in Botticelli Reimagined, a blockbuster show that opens at the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin next month before coming to the V&A in the spring.
From David LaChapelle’s opulently kitsch 2009 photowork Rebirth of Venus, to a Botticelli-themed dress by Dolce and Gabbana that Lady Gaga wore for her Artpop tour, to a clip of Ursula Andress emerging like Botticelli’s Venus from the waves in the 1962 Bond film Dr No, this bold exploration of a great artist’s afterlives trawls far and wide through popular culture.
It will even have music, including Bob Dylan’s Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands (in another song, Dylan tells how “Botticelli’s niece” promised to be with him “when I paint my masterpiece”).
Curators Mark Evans and Ana Debenedetti said the only problem was knowing where to stop: “We excluded huge amounts of trash.” And yet this is not just an arbitrary attempt to make a Renaissance artist look cool by throwing in Andy Warhol’s silkscreen of The Birth of Venus and Rineke Dijkstra’s photographs of teenagers adopting Botticelli poses. It all makes a kind of mad sense. The clue that holds it together is the V&A museum’s only Botticelli painting. It happens to be not just a haunting example of his portraiture of women – she looks straight out of the picture, so directly that some time in the past, someone spooked either by the “evil eye” (malocchio) or by misogynist fears of a female gaze actually slashed her eyes – but a document of Botticelli’s unique relationship with the modern world.
Other Renaissance geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian and Raphael have been famous since their own lifetimes. Botticelli, however, was forgotten for centuries and only started to become an art hero in Victorian times. The V&A’s Botticelli belonged to the Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti. It hung in his Chelsea home at exactly the moment the Botticelli cult got going. That’s what makes it the pivotal work in Botticelli Reimagined, a document of modernity’s queer relationship with this 15th century artist.
For Botticelli is not just a modern cult; he is, somehow, a modern artist. We subconsciously accept him as an artist of our own uneasy world because he shares our own sense of the strangeness of things. The Victorian critic Walter Pater tried to articulate this back in Rossetti’s day, in an 1870 essay that helped to launch Botticelli’s fame. Writing about an artist who was still far from a household name, he observes that Botticelli’s women are “in a certain sense like angels, but with a sense of displacement or loss about them – the wistfulness of exiles”.
What a brilliant remark and what a quintessential definition of the modern condition. Botticelli’s Venus is an exile, a sad-eyed beauty of the waves, half way between heaven and earth, moving towards us as our hearts go out to her. It is the melancholy in her eyes, the “shadow” on Botticelli’s beauty as Pater put it, that makes his vision of Venus modern. His paintings make the pagan gods alive with a naive intensity that disrupts and invades the imagination. He is a 15th century surrealist – an artist who makes dreams utterly real. It is highly likely he intended some of his paintings, including Venus and Mars in the National Gallery and perhaps even his pagan masterpiece Primavera (Spring), to act as magical charms. They do have a strangely real and actual effect, as if looking at a work of art could change your very being.
That too is modernist. “You must change your life,” urged the modern poet Rainer Maria Rilke in a poem about the power of art. No artist makes me feel that like Botticelli does. His life, too, makes him modern – especially today, in our world of fundamentalisms. Botticelli’s life is cut in two by belief. After creating his sublime visions of pagan myth he became a follower of the revolutionary prophet Savonarola, rejected sensual beauty and devoted himself to illustrating Dante. Clearly Botticelli was a genuinely turbulent character, a man of troubles – a modern man, in a pre-modern way.
So the very best news about Botticelli Reimagined is that after all the Bond films and Dylan songs, it will unveil the biggest haul of original Botticelli paintings to come to London in a long time. Pallas and the Centaur is coming from the Uffizi Gallery with its uncannily precise and convincing portrayal of a creature who is half man, half horse. Anticipating Freud’s theory of the unconscious, this painting shows the goddess of reason restraining the animal passions of our nature – she gazes icily as the centaur struggles, caught by the hair. Botticelli’s Dante drawings, portraits and one of his depictions of Venus will bring his seductive, subtle and strange genius head to head with his modern imitators. The world changes but Botticelli changes with it. He is the poet of our exiled souls.
Venere, Marte e Amore (Venus, Mars and Cupid) by Piero di Cosimo, dated to 1490
This month an exhibition of paintings by Piero di Cosimo – Renaissance Italy’s answer to Hieronymus Bosch – travels from the National Gallery of Art in Washington to the Uffizi in Florence, bringing home until 27 September a collection of lilac skies, lifeless trees and unfathomable creatures.As much as I admire the oil paintings, my eyes will be fixed on the paintings Piero rendered in egg tempera, a mixture of colour pigment, egg yolk and clove oil or vinegar. It’s not their subject matter, nor even their bold colour that confounds me, but the mind-aching enigma of what Piero did with all his leftover egg whites.
Where, I ask myself, did all the egg whites go? Where did any of the great artists’ egg whites go? Such luminaries as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Botticelli were among those who mixed yolks to make tempera even after oil painting had become the vogue, appreciating how opaque and luminous it made their subjects’ flesh, and how quickly it dried.
Piero, who for a time ate nothing but eggs, setting 50 or more to boil at once alongside the glue he heated to seal his paintings, used tempera to paint the nude mythological figures of his Tritons and Nereids. If he followed the advice of a handbook available at the time, he would have used the yolks of town hen eggs for the females’ pale and youthful skin, and those of country eggs (considered ruddier) for the swarthier complexions.
But the question remains: what did he and the others do with the whites? Leonardo, exemplifying one possible use, boiled eyeballs in egg whites to make them easier to dissect for his anatomical drawings; many painters added whites to the gloss for their paintings.
Perhaps another answer lies in Europe’s first cookbook, which contained recipes from the court where Leonardo was based. The author, Bartolomeo Sacchi, known as Platina, filled it with dishes he had learned from a Maestro Martino, onetime court chef for the Sforza family in Milan. On Honest Pleasure and Good Health, which he began writing around 1464, was printed in 1475, seven years before Leonardo arrived as painter at that very court. Piero di Cosimo was then 13 years old.
Lo and behold, the book’s recipes are peculiarly rich in egg whites. While we would normally use yolk or whole egg to make pasta, Maestro Martino advised making vermicelli and Sicilian macaroni from flour, rose water and egg whites.
His herbe torte is to be made with 15 or 16 egg whites, no yolks. White torte combines 12 or 15 egg whites with cheese, lard, butter, milk, sugar, and ginger. Fritters, a variation, perhaps, on the modern tempura batter (no relation to egg tempera), required egg whites and flour.
Even where the standard recipe called for egg yolks, there were alternative “white” versions, such as white broth and white dumplings.
While some of Maestro Martino’s recipes must have been circulating since medieval times, Platina ensured that they were disseminated across Europe. From Venice the book travelled to Louvain, Bologna, Strasbourg, Cologne, Paris, Lyon and Basel.
Based at the court where Maestro Martino had worked his magic, Leonardo must have been among the first to taste his recipes – especially because he was vegetarian. Indeed, he remarked upon the variation of flavour combinations in the finished cookbook.
But this was not the egg’s only contribution to the Renaissance. To win the commission to design the roof of the Florentine Duomo, Santa Maria del Fiore, Filippo Brunelleschi challenged his rivals to make an egg stand unaided on a piece of marble.
No one could do it, until Brunelleschi set it down firmly enough that the bottom of the shell cracked – without piercing the egg sack inside – to produce a flat base. He won the commission and, wasting no time on hefty arches and supports, built a slightly flattened dome within a dome, just like the sack-lined egg. The trick became so famous that it was also attributed to Christopher Columbus as he showed that discoveries, such as that the world is round, are only obvious after the fact.
It is truly sobering to think that, through all the achievements of the time, the egg, in its various component parts, might just have provided the sustenance by which the Renaissance was nourished.
Giacobbe Giusti, ‘Neoplatonism on Michelangelo’s Art’
Influence of Neoplatonism on Michelangelo’s Art
Summary: Discusses two pieces of work done by Michelangelo, his marble sculpture of the Pietà and the Sistine Chapel painting The Creation of Adam. Explores how Neoplatonic ideas influenced him.
The art of Michelangelo can be characterized as having a neo-platonic influence. This idea is that of the combination of classic Greek philosophy, such as Plato and Aristotle, with the Christian beliefs. Michelangelo takes religious events and subject matter, such as the dead Christ with the Virgin and the Creation of Adam, and presents it in a way that is suggestive of how truth and beauty of the spiritual world can be revealed via the physical world.
At a first sight, the first of these statues immediately recalls Michelangelo: some details remind his famous David, while the position of his arm behind his back looks quite similar to the one we can see in the allegoric statue of the Day or the little Jesus in Michelangelo’s relief known as Madonna della Scala… Nonetheless it is not a Michelangelo’s work: that’s the famous “Hercole Farnese”: a masterpiece of greek hellenistic sculpture that for sure had to be pretty familiar to Michelangelo.
According to Vasari’s biography, Michelangelo admired a lot the greek sculptures that were produced in the hellenistic time: he admired their likeness to reality and, and the same time their idealization that perfectly matched with those ideas of neoplatonic philosophy that Michelangelo had been knowing since he had been hosted in the Medici’s Palace when he was a young boy. The same as the Torso Belvedere, the Laocoonte and other hellenistic statues, the Hercules Farnese too was to Michelangelo much more than a simple model to inspire a pose.
Vasari says that Michelangelo had an extraordinary photographic memory that allowed him to “archive” hundreds of images in his mind. In his “mental archive”he had stored an endless gallery of statues(old hellenistic statues the most, but modern ones as well) and thanks to his sculpural mind he was able to rotate them in his mind so that he could easily use them in a way that no one realized where those images came from. Only few years ago an important scholar such as Antonio Natali realized that the nine persons he painted in his Tondo Doni were inspired, but we could even say -copied and pasted- from as many hellenistic statues that Michelangelo kept in his mental photographic archive, and then regenerated in his personal way… http://florenaissance.it/michelangelos-hellenistic-archive-2/ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1575761/Michelangelos-David-set-for-move.html http://www.giacobbegiusti.com