A Wanderer in Florence eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 333 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.

CHAPTER XVIII

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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