Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What an art history text does not reveal

I went back to Florence on a day trip to see things I had missed. Santa Felicita in Florence is one of the oldest in the city first built in the 4th c.
It's current interior was rebuilt in the 18th c. The facade was transformed in  the 16th century to build the Vasari Corridor for the Medici.

The church contains one of the masterpieces of the 16th century Mannerist style by Pontormo. It is in every art history text. It is a surprise to see it in situ in a dark chapel immediately to the right of the entrance. The Capponi Chapel was first designed in the 15th century by Brunellischi. You put a euro in a coin box and the lights turn on and there is an audio guide.

On the right is a fresco by the artist of the Annunciation painted 8 years earlier.
Putting your camera between the bars you see the painting.
Pontormo painted this Deposition in 1528 in oil on wood.
It is considered one of the first examples of the Mannerist style in which the space is compressed, the figures distorted and the colors intensified for emotional and artistic purposes . The viewer sees it in photographs with the distortion caused by perspective eliminated. You also do not get to see the frame or the rest of the chapel.
Above the painting are frescoes in roundels of the 4 evangelists as though  peering out at the scene. His apprentice Bronzino added his skills here.
To the right is Pontormo's Annunciation frescoed  in 1520. The tabernacle was added in the 18th c.
It is wonderful to see these images in their  more or less original location. Images in texts take away the mystery and magic of reality and discovery.
Here is the Arno River in the late afternoon.