Florence day 2 (continuation 9)

The Palazzo Pitti, the courtyard of Ammanati and the Boboli gardens and studio Zuccari

Aside from its painting collection and its garden, the courtyard of Palazzo Pitti is worth a visit, too.172 It is a prime example of the style known as Mannerism, the foundation of which was laid by Michelangelo as described above. The original palace was a detached palazzo belonging to the merchant Luca Pitti.

Palazzo of  Luca Pitti La Veduta della Catena Palazzo Pitti 
Palazzo of  Luca Pitti La Veduta della Catena
Allesando Allori ‘Lucca Pitti in front of his palazzo Pitti’ 1574 detail of a  predella
Allesando Allori 'Lucca Pitti in front of his palazzo Pitti' 1574 detail of a  predella
Giusto Utens 1599 and a video Drone Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli gardens (4.50 minutes)
A lunette Palazzo Pitti painted in 1599 by Giusto Utens

In 1549, this palace was purchased by the wife of Cosimo I, Eleonora of Toledo. After this, it was expanded multiple times and Ammanati installed a few extra windows in the old core. The palace was built at the spot of a former stone quarry. The stones used for construction were taken from the garden behind the palace.

‘It’s roughness and the size of the huge stone blocks were deliberate references to superhuman strength and proportions; all aimed at inspiring awe. Like Taine mentioned, they are not stones, but rocks, akin to whole chunks of mountain.’173
Palazzo Pitti       Aerial picture        Rustication of the facade        Video Google Earth
Palazzo Pitti facade Florence

The courtyard was also designed by Ammanati. Between 1550 and 1562, he built the courtyard shortly after his return from Rome. In his design, he was clearly inspired by Antonio da Sangallo with his Palazzo Farnese in Rome. Ammanati uses the same order of arches and axes. For instance, the bottom floor uses the Tuscan order, the first floor uses the Ionic order and the last floor uses the Corinthian order. Nothing unusual, one would think, but the architect does not just use rustication for the walls, but also for the columns. The rustication for these columns extends outside of the shaft as if it were a continuation of the walls. This creates a kind of ambivalence between the columns and the rustication. The ground floor has round rings at the Tuscan order that are placed closely together. The first floor has squares surrounding the Ionic columns, clearly with more space in between. The top floor has a Corinthian order. This last order is a kind of synthesis of the two bottom orders. It does use rings (ground floor), but the distances at which they are placed from each other is equal to the first floor.

Two sides of the sightline from the Palazzo Pitti and an aerial picture        Large size
 Palazzo Pitti courtyard and the Boboli gardens

picture (mouseover): Stefan Bauer

The idea of a column with rustication dates back to Antiquity, like we can still see at the Porta Maggiore in Rome. Moreover, this combination of a column and rustication is based on the ideas of Michelangelo, which Ammanati later expanded on. The contrast between the rustication and the columns is:

‘[…] the dramatic depiction of battle, represented by the sleek classic orders (the columns) and the powers of uncontrolled nature (the rustica blocks). This theme was definitely used at the right place, right where the garden wall of the palace was.’

According to Eva Borsook, ‘Stergids Florence’, Agon, Amsterdam, 1988 p. 404.

View from the courtyard large size
Palazzo Pitti View from the courtyard Boboli garden Florence
View from the courtyard and from the garden and a detail of the facade
courtyard Palazzo Pitti

picture: Z everson

View from the courtyard
Boboli garden view from the courtyard Palazzo Pitti

Some of the triangular pediments have been opened up at the top. Strange columns and capitals can also be seen in the corners, where the facades meet. The left and right windows on the first floor above the entrance at the courtyard also show something unusual.  Two caryatids shaped like pilasters are standing watch, like true soldiers, their gazes fixed on each other.


The Boboli gardens

Walking into the Boboli gardens, the garden behind the Palazzo Pitti, you can see clearly why Eleonora of Toledo purchased this palace. Click here for a good website with images and information about the garden. For the official site, click here. The gardens are very close to Florence, but are still in the midst of nature. The gardens were named after a plot of land, belonging to one named Boboli, which was purchased by Cosimo de Medici, Eleonora’s husband.

Spider lane and a video drone Palazzo Pitti en de Boboli gardens (4.50 minutes)

photo:  Eric Sidle

Boboli gardens large size
Boboli gardens

The gardens are divided into roughly two sections. Both sections are marked by sightlines. The first part is behind the Palazzo Pitti and the sightlines ends at the hill (see map; the line runs from number 5, the amphitheatre, to number 8, a colossal statue of Giambolgna named: Abbondanza). From this hill, you have a splendid view over the city and its surroundings. The other section is perpendicular to the first section and extends west until the Porta Romana. The Viottolone, part of the second sightline, is a lane with Cyprus trees (see map; line running through number 10, a pond named Isolotto).

This garden hosts many statues, a fair few of them being authentic and dating to Antiquity.

Map of the Boboli gardens:
1.   Morgante as Bacchus
2.   Cave of Buontalenti
3.   Cave of the goats (Grotticina della Madamo entrance)
4.   Fountain of the Artichoke
5.   Amphitheatre
6.   Coffee house
7.   Neptune Fountain
8.   Statue of Abundance
9.   Garden of the Cavaliere
10. Isoletto
11. Meridiana

Isoletto        Aerial picture
 Oude Sacristie San Lorenzo Brunelleschi

Other statues are from the 16th, 17th or 18th century. Even the court jester and dwarf, Morgante, is immortalised in stone in 1560 as Bacchus seated on a turtle, by Valerio Cioli.

Valerio Cioli ‘Morgante as Bacchus’
Boboli gardens Valerio Cioli Morgante as Bacchus

pictures: Rafael Jiménez and Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz

This is the same sculptor who was specialised in restoring antique statues. For more information and pictures of the statues, click here for the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz. Close to Morgante lies the cave of Buontalenti. This cavern traces back to a design by Vasari.

Cave of Buontalenti large size     Interior      Facade     Drawing 18th century
Cave of Buontalenti facade Boboli gardens


Interior of the cave
Cave of Buontalenti interior Boboli gardens

This place not only had statues of Bandinelli, like Adam and Eve, but also the Slaves of Michelangelo. Plaster casts have now taken the place of the original statues. The original statues were moved to the Accademia in 1909.

Vincenzo de Rossi ‘Paris and  Helena’ detail and in its entirety
Vincenzo de Rossi Paris and  Helena Cave of Buontalenti Boboli gardens
Giambologna ‘Venus’ replica
Giambologna Venus replica Cave of Buontalenti Boboli gardens

Finally, we will look at a special door of Bernardo Buontalenti and the gallery of Federico Zuccari. The Porta delle Suppliche, the door of the petitions, can be found at the Palazzo degli Uffizi near the west wing.174 This door, from 1577, is quite likely the most famous one from the architectonic oeuvre of Buontalenti.

Buontalenti ‘Porta delle Suppliche’ large size Porta delle Suppliche Buontalenti

To the right of the door is a matching slot where the petition could be deposited. Behind the bust of Cosimo de Medici, the duke, is a spyhole with bars. Buontalenti aligned his design with this. The door with its frame has three parts: a rather flat frame around the door, an aedicula that clearly contrasts with the wall and a peculiar pediment at the top. Because the spyhole had to be kept open, he could not place a segment-shaped pediment above the door. Buontalenti solves this by splitting the pediment in two, and rotating each section. A pedestal is then placed in its centre with the portrait of Cosimo, allowing the spyhole to remain functional. A raised Cosimo looks down sternly on the visitor who deposits his petition. Pigeons, on the other hand, seem to respect Cosimo’s bust a bit less, as the below image shows.

 Porta delle Suppliche Buontalenti Uffizi Florence

The home and gallery of Frederico Zuccari

Federico Zuccari self-portrait detail
Federico Zuccari self-portrait

Tenslotte lopen we richting de Via Giuseppe Giusti waarbij we nog langs het Piazza Santissima Annunziata Finally, we head towards the Via Giuseppe Giusti where we pass by the Piazza Santissima Annunziata with Brunelleschi’s hospital for abandoned babies. A bit further to the right lies the street with the home of Federico Zuccari: at the corner of Via Giuseppe Giusti (formerly Via del Mandorlo) and the Via Gino Capponi (formerly Via dell’ Orto dei Servi).  Later, this artist built a gallery at the Via Giusti on his plot.175

 Piazza della Santissima Annunziata
 Piazza della Santissima Annunziata Florence

picture: shofet

Casa Zuccari corner Via Giuseppe Giusti and the Via Gino Capponi and coat of arms
Casa Zuccari corner Via Giuseppe Giusti and the Via Gino Capponi coat of arms

pictures: Sigismondi

Casa Zuccari Loggia and garden
Casa Zuccari Loggia and garden Florence

picture: Sigismondi

Casa Zuccari ceiling fresco Sala Terrena
Casa Zuccari ceiling fresco Sala Terrena

picture: Lensini

For more information, like literature and the many images of frescos in the home of Zuccari, click here for teh Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz and browse to Casa Zuccari at Baugeschichte and Sala Terrena for the frescos. Later, Zuccari had a workshop built at the Via Giuseppe Giusti on the same plot.

The high and narrow workshop has a very remarkable facade.


Workshop of Federico Zuccari Via Giuseppe Giusti large
Ground floor of the facade     Large size
façade studio Federico Zuccari Via Giuseppe Giusti Florence

This facade is a strange combination of different materials, ranging from rough to smoothly polished surfaces. The ground floor and the piano nobile differ starkly. The first is made of rough and unfinished materials, while the beautiful piano nobile has a very smooth finish. The rough stone blocks on the ground floor have three reliefs. These reliefs symbolise the tools of a painter, architect and sculptor. For instance, both ends of the ground floor show pilasters in the making. One part still needs to be chiselled out, while some pieces of the corner pilasters have already been smoothed out and completed. The stone masons are still long from finishing their work on the ground floor, with plenty of rough stones remaining. This also shows at the frames around the door and the window above it.

Top     Coat of arms     Windows
façade Federico Zuccari Via Giuseppe Giusti

picture: Wikipedia

The first floor, the piano nobile, combines the three noble arts: architecture, painting and sculpting. Architecture is depicted in the broken-up pediments above the two windows. Sculpting is depicted by the two recesses flanking both windows. Finally, painting is symbolised in the centre of the facade by a large, empty, framed and plastered rectangle. Similar to the recesses not having statues, the empty rectangular frame has no fresco. After all, Federico Zuccari was a painter, like his brother Taddeo, who used a Mannerist style as can be deduced from the architecture of this facade. The palace owned by Federico Zuccari in Rome, too, shows clear Mannerist traits. For instance, the door and windows of this Roman palace have ‘mouths’ that are wide open and something resembling a human face. Zuccari’s home has been owned by the German Kunsthistorisches Institut Florenz since 1987. Do you want to read more about the home and the paintings of Zuccari? Click here.

End of day 2.

Next day (day 3)