Journey with Jes

Italy 2010 202

10 must-see masterpieces in Florence

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Florence is known as the art capital of Italy, so while there I thought it was crucial to see some of the most famous art in history.

1. David- Long considered one of the most famous sculptures in history, Michelangelo’s masterpiece resides in the Accademia. The sculpture is just as impressive in real life, but crowds will almost always block your view. You can only get so close to the work, and guards nearby try to thwart photographers.

2. David- Another David, this one a bronze by Donatello, housed in the Bargello. One of my favorite pieces, this feminine sculpture was rumored to be a representation of Donatello’s own homosexuality. It is one of the few David sculptures to portray him after the fight with Goliath, rather than before.

3. Baptisery Doors- The doors on the Baptisery, right next door to the Duomo, are beautiful bronze cast works. Each set of doors was completed by different artists at multiple points in history. The north side doors were won by competition in 1401; artists Ghiberti and Brunelleschi both cast a sample to see who would win the commission for the doors. Ghiberti won (possibly because his technique would use less bronze and therefore be less expensive), and his doors can be seen on the Baptisery. The competition samples can both be seen and compared at the Bargello.

4. Mary Magdalene- One of the few Renaissance wood sculptures, Donatello’s Mary Magdalene is quite creepy. It portrays her as an old, shabby woman. Her haunted face and empty-looking eyes evoke a feeling that cannot quite be described. It can be found on the top floor of the Duomo Museum.

5. Expulsion of Adam and Eve- The Brancacci Chapel has some beautiful frescoes, including this one by Masachio. It depicts Adam and Eve being expelled from Paradise, and the emotion in the frescoes is unseen until this point in time.

6. Guild Statues- Or San Michele is home to some marvelous statues commissioned by the Florentine guilds in the early 15th century. Statues encircle the exterior and some boast artists  like Donatello, di Banco, and Ghiberti.

7. Il Duomo- Everything about the Duomo is art and worth seeing. The architecture inside and out is magnificent and the massive structure can hold over 20,000 visitors. If you climb to the top, you can take a look at the completely frescoed dome covered in religious art, monsters from hell, and angels. The view from the top is a work of art itself- the views are the best in Florence.

8. The┬áBirth of Venus- This 1486 painting by Botticelli is known by almost everyone in the world. It depicts the goddess Venus being born of the sea and floating in a shell, her hair blowing in the wind. Exact interpretations of the work vary, but it is definitely worth a look. It can be found in the Uffizi Gallery- crowds are big, but the painting is even bigger and you’ll have plenty of space to view it.

9. Primavera- Another Botticelli housed in the Uffizi, this is another piece that art historians just can’t seem to agree on. Some say it depicts love, others war, some others say it’s simply spring. Six females dance while two males pick oranges (the symbol for the old Florentine family the Medicis). Supposedly, there are over 500 species of plants and flowers in the painting, but who’s counting?

10. Annunciation- Da Vinci did everything, including paint. One of his most famous works, from 1472, is also in the Uffizi. This painting depicts the moment an angel visited the Virgin Mary and told her she was pregnant. The wings on the angel have been altered by a later artist, but the realism in the faces and folds in the clothing are all da Vinci.

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