Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cattedrale Santa Maria del Fiore

5 Ottobre

A pleasant Friday afternoon walk up the via del Proconsulo heading for the Teatro La Pergola to purchase tickets for the November 24 concert of Angela Hewitt. Pleasant indeed to leave behind the infantile tyrannies of ABC Italian and resume one's identity as an adult.

Photo: Wickimedia Commons
Then back down via dell'Oriuolo to the Piazza del Duomo and a first look at the Museo dell'Opera dell Duomo and Brunelleschi's famous dome on top of  the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower otherwise known as the Duomo di Firenze.  The museum is currently home to the bronze Bapistry doors of Ghiberti, which, most opportunely, were recently put on display after some  restoration of them was undertaken; we were anxious to see the real thing, not just the copies currently on the Bapistry. Also I wanted to know more about the remarkable dome Brunelleschi built for the Duomo and to get a sense of the engineering chops he had to reinvent to get the job done, as this expertise, common in Roman times, had all been lost.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo:Wikimedia Commons
This is how the doors which Michelangelo termed the "Gates of Paradise" looked when installed on the east wall of the Bapistry. On the left is a closer look at one of the panels: "Adam and Eve".

Photo: John Michael
The doors are now housed in a display case that provides constant temperature and humidity control, to minimize the ongoing chemical reactions occurring within the bronze.

This shot was taken from an upper-level balcony and gives an idea of the size of the doors, but the arrangement doesn't allow one a close look at the upper panels. Hopefully, when the doors have reached their permanent location, one will be able to see them in more detail.

Photo: Mary Ann Sullivan
One of the unanticipated pleasures of Florence is in turning a corner and being confronted with an unexpected, stunning work of art. This is what I found while walking around one of the upper floors of the Museo: the Magdalene Penitent by Donatello. It's an amazingly compelling work of art, and I wonder what prompted Donatello to undertake it, particularly as the position of the Church regarding the role of women, other than the mother of Jesus, in Donatllo's time as in our own, has been to marginalize their importance.

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