A Wanderer in Florence eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 408 pages of information about A Wanderer in Florence.
to the left of the Madonna—­who is more than usually troubled—­is very like that for which Giuliano de’ Medici was famous.  This is a very lovely work, although its colour is a little depressed.  Next is the most remarkable of the Piero de’ Medici pictures, which I have already touched upon—­No. 1286, “The Adoration of the Magi,” as different from the Venus as could be:  the Venus so cool and transparent, and this so hot and rich, with its haughty Florentines and sumptuous cloaks.  Above it is No. 23, a less subtle group—­the Madonna, the Child and angels—­difficult to see.  And then comes the beautiful “Magnificat,” which we know to have been painted for Lucrezia Tornabuoni and which shall here introduce a passage from Pater:  “For with Botticelli she too, although she holds in her hands the ‘Desire of all nations,’ is one of those who are neither for Jehovah nor for His enemies; and her choice is on her face.  The white light on it is cast up hard and cheerless from below, as when snow lies upon the ground, and the children look up with surprise at the strange whiteness of the ceiling.  Her trouble is in the very caress of the mysterious child, whose gaze is always far from her, and who has already that sweet look of devotion which men have never been able altogether to love, and which still makes the born saint an object almost of suspicion to his earthly brethren.  Once, indeed, he guides her hand to transcribe in a book the words of her exaltation, the ‘Ave,’ and the ‘Magnificat,’ and the ‘Gaude Maria,’ and the young angels, glad to rouse her for a moment from her devotion, are eager to hold the ink-horn and to support the book.  But the pen almost drops from her hand, and the high cold words have no meaning for her, and her true children are those others among whom, in her rude home, the intolerable honour came to her, with that look of wistful inquiry on their irregular faces which you see in startled animals—­gipsy children, such as those who, in Apennine villages, still hold out their long brown arms to beg of you, with their thick black hair nicely combed, and fair white linen on their sunburnt throats.”

The picture’s frame is that which was made for it four hundred and fifty years ago:  by whom, I cannot say, but it was the custom at that time for the painter himself to be responsible also for the frame.

The glory of the end wall is the “Annunciation,” reproduced in this book.  The picture is a work that may perhaps not wholly please at first, the cause largely of the vermilion on the floor, but in the end conquers.  The hands are among the most beautiful in existence, and the landscape, with its one tree and its fairy architecture, is a continual delight.  Among “Annunciations,” as among pictures, it stands very high.  It has more of sophistication than most:  the Virgin not only recognizes the honour, but the doom, which the painter himself foreshadows in the predella, where Christ is seen rising from the grave.  None of Fra Angelico’s simple radiance here, and none of Fra Lippo Lippi’s glorified matter-of-fact.  Here is tragedy.  The painting of the Virgin’s head-dress is again marvellous.

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A Wanderer in Florence from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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