Monday, May 7, 2012

War-Torn Tabernacoli Tuscany


Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

On a recent weekend, I took some more painters out to my friend’s home in the countryside outside of Firenze, Italia. After a little walk around the vineyards and olive trees to get them acquainted with the landscape painting opportunities (and the fresh country air!), we ended up speaking with the neighbors here. There are multiple families nearby, but many of them are all related.

Bruno is in his 80s. He and his older brother Renato (who turns 90 years old this July 29th) grew up in their Tuscan “farm” during World War II. Bruno again brought out a picture he has of part of their family home at the time of the war. I had seen it before, but some things are worth doing more than once and my friends enjoyed the “live history.” These Italians seem to like me since I am American and they remember well that American soldiers stayed with them as they prepared to take back Firenze from the Germans. Bruno is in this first image as he shows off his bit of history to my friends.

We had asked about the tabernacle on the outside of the house. My friend Llewellyn is also interested in these. [Perhaps you will remember … or like to read … my art newsletter about the tabornacoli fiorentini that I wrote about some time ago.] Apparently, the original artwork in the tabernacle was a Della Robbia. This is a collective name for a historical family of ceramic artists and the studios are quite famous in these parts. The typically religious Della Robbias tend to be blue and white (white figures with blue glazed backgrounds), but not always. I must admit that they are not generally to my taste, but I have enjoyed some of them and their look is often easily distinguished from other terra-cotta or porcelain artwork of the time.

Bruno and Renato’s Della Robbia was bombed and destroyed during the war. Llewellyn is holding the image of the war-torn home, showing the tabernacle on the right. Later, the family commissioned a female artist with the last name Poggi (I believe), another well-known name in these parts, to create a new “Madonna and Child.” The last image is taken with the restored niche.

Happy Birthday, John Borsheim!

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Art Appraiser said...
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