A Wanderer in Florence eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 408 pages of information about A Wanderer in Florence.

And then I sank luxuriously into a corner seat in the waiting tram, and, seeking for the return journey’s thirty centimes, found that during the proceedings my purse had been stolen.


S. Marco

Andrea del Castagno—­“The Last Supper”—­The stolen Madonna—­Fra Angelico’s frescoes—­“Little Antony”—­The good archbishop—­The Buonuomini—­Savonarola—­The death of Lorenzo the Magnificent—­Pope Alexander VI—­The Ordeal by Fire—­The execution—­The S. Marco cells—­The cloister frescoes—­Ghirlandaio’s “Last Supper”—­Relics of old Florence—­Pico and Politian—­Piero di Cosimo—­Andrea del Sarto.

From the Accademia it is but a step to S. Marco, across the Piazza, but it is well first to go a little beyond that in order to see a certain painting which both chronologically and as an influence comes before a painting that we shall find in the Museo S. Marco.  We therefore cross the Piazza S. Marco to the Via d’Arrazzieri, which leads into the Via 27 Aprile, [7] where at a door on the left, marked A, is an ancient refectory, preserved as a picture gallery:  the Cenacolo di S. Apollonia, all that is kept sacred of the monastery of S. Apollonia, now a military establishment.  This room is important to students of art in containing so much work of Andrea del Castagno (1390-1457), to whom Vasari gives so black a character.  The portrait frescoes are from the Villa Pandolfini (previously Carducci), and among them are Boccaccio, Petrarch, and Dante—­who is here rather less ascetic than usual—­none of whom the painter could have seen.  There is also a very charming little cupid carrying a huge peacock plume.  But “The Last Supper” is the glory of the room.  This work, which belongs to the middle of the fifteenth century, is interesting as a real effort at psychology.  Leonardo makes Judas leave his seat to ask if it is he that is meant—­that being the dramatic moment chosen by this prince of painters:  Castagno calls attention to Judas as an undesirable member of the little band of disciples by placing him apart, the only one on his side of the table; which was avoiding the real task, since naturally when one of the company was forced into so sinister a position the question would be already answered.  Castagno indeed renders Judas so obviously untrustworthy as to make it a surprise that he ever was admitted among the disciples (or wished to be one) at all; while Vasari blandly suggests that he is the very image of the painter himself.  Other positions which later artists converted into a convention may also be noted:  John, for example, is reclining on the table in an ecstasy of affection and fidelity; while the Florentine loggia as the scene of the meal was often reproduced later.

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A Wanderer in Florence from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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