A Wanderer in Florence eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 408 pages of information about A Wanderer in Florence.
is to walk out on the roof from the little room at the top of the stairs, and get a supply of fresh air for the gallery, and see Florence, which is very beautiful from here.  Looking over the city one notices that the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio is almost more dominating than the Duomo, the work of the same architect who began this palace.  Between the two is Fiesole.  The Signoria tower is, as I say, the highest.  Then the Duomo.  Then Giotto’s Campanile.  The Bargello is hidden, but the graceful Badia tower is seen; also the little white Baptistery roof with its lantern just showing.  From the fortezza come the sounds of drums and bugles.

Returning from this terrace we skirt a vast porphyry basin and reach the top landing of the stairs (which was, I presume, once a loggia) where there is a very charming marble fountain; and from this we enter the first room of the gallery.  The Pitti walls are so congested and so many of the pictures so difficult to see, that I propose to refer only to those which, after a series of visits, seem to me the absolute best.  Let me hasten to say that to visit the Pitti gallery on any but a really bright day is folly.  The great windows (which were to be larger than Cosimo de’ Medici’s doors) are excellent to look out of, but the rooms are so crowded with paintings on walls and ceilings, and the curtains are so absorbent of light, that unless there is sunshine one gropes in gloom.  The only pictures in short that are properly visible are those on screens or hinges; and these are, fortunately almost without exception, the best.  The Pitti rooms were never made for pictures at all, and it is really absurd that so many beautiful things should be massed here without reasonable lighting.

The Pitti also is always crowded.  The Uffizi is never crowded; the Accademia is always comfortable; the Bargello is sparsely attended.  But the Pitti is normally congested, not only by individuals but by flocks, whose guides, speaking broken English, and sometimes broken American, lead from room to room.  I need hardly say that they form the tightest knots before the works of Raphael.  All this is proper enough, of course, but it serves to render the Pitti a difficult gallery rightly to study pictures in.

In the first chapter on the Uffizi I have said how simple it is, in the Pitti, to name the best picture of all, and how difficult in most galleries.  But the Pitti has one particular jewel which throws everything into the background:  the work not of a Florentine but of a Venetian:  “The Concert” of Giorgione, which stands on an easel in the Sala di Marte. [9] It is true that modern criticism has doubted the lightness of the ascription, and many critics, whose one idea seems to be to deprive Giorgione of any pictures at all, leaving him but a glorious name without anything to account for it, call it an early Titian; but this need not trouble us.  There the picture is, and never do I think to see anything more satisfying.  Piece by piece, it is not more than fine rich painting, but as a whole it is impressive and mysterious and enchanting.  Pater compares the effect of it to music; and he is right.

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A Wanderer in Florence from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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