First thing on arrival in Paris, I got out of town, on a half-day trip to the suburb of Palaiseau, to lay eyes on this strange monument to Palaiseau native and national hero, Joseph Bara (1779-1793), a statue from 1881 by Louis-Albert Etienne Marie Lefeuvre (1845-1924).
Like many cultures in the Revolutionary era (the XVIIIth century, give or take a century), France had "boy heroes" in their wars, a powerful symbol of the sacrifice necessary for a nation to prevail in battle. Italy had Righetto who died in 1849 at age 12 in Garibaldi's defense of the Repubblica Romana; México remembers the Niños Héroes, a group of teenage cadets who died in the battle of Chapultepec in 1847; and so forth. These and others are revered to this day, with monuments in many cities in their respective countries. As for Bara, that item in his right hand is the handle of a sword, now missing.
The Wall of Vegetables - or, perhaps more accurately, Vegetation - at the Musée Quai Branly in (oh, really?) Quai Branly, on the Rive Gauche (Seine).
The Vegetables - OK, Vegetation - covers the entire front of the building.
The Tour Eiffel dominates much of the city around it, seen here from the massive Palais de Chaillot in the Place du Trocadero, view to the SouthEast across the Seine.
The Passy (Southern) wing of the Palais de Chaillot is home to the Musée de l'Homme, recently (temporarily?) re-named by a graffitist (just to the left of the gold statue) as the Musée de la Femme.
Whoops. Do you want Freees with that?
I suppose one would have to call this "Realist" sculpture, as it probably depicts the deceased, who died at age 15. The date is not clear on the monument, but is probably 1949. This cemetery has very few sculptures of any kind, mostly run-of-the-mill headstones, probably because it is relatively 'new', having opened in 1886, or maybe because it is in a less affluent part of the city, as compared with the 'big', older cemeteries (see below).
These two kids almost seem to be playing among the graves at Passy Cemetery (next to the Place du Trocadero), the one on the right pointing to the headstone marking the Oranie l'Host grave, the one on the left 'visiting' the Levy/Gennevois plot.
The story under this monument is strange, indeed, if one is to believe the online documentation. Antoni Cierplikowski (1884-1976) was better known as Antoine of Paris, a celebrated hairdresser of the early-to-mid XXth century. According to many accounts - but not all - when he died in his native Poland, despite his wishes to be buried in Passy Cemetery, he was interred in the cemetery at Sieradz - except for his right hand (!), which was buried at Passy, with a magnificent sculpture, called The Soul Escaping the Body [aka Fatum] created in 1904 by his best friend Xawery Dunikowski (1875-1964) placed on the grave. A duplicate sculpture (still there) also was placed on his Sieradz grave. Unfortunately, ownership of the Passy plot was not permanent, and it was purchased by a family named Lemerre. The Passy copy of the sculpture was removed (some say destroyed) in 2004, though the right hand remains interred along with the Lemerres. (Again, there are other versions of this story, so have your grain of salt at the ready.)
Some years after the establishment of this cemetery, the good elders of Montmartre decided they needed a road right over some of the monuments. What you see here is a small part of the Cimetière de Montmartre, with the majority on the other side of the Pont de Caulaincourt (1888) . . .
. . . and a fair number of tombs directly under it.
Cemetery designs often reflect the trends in art at the time they're made. This chapelle I believe to be Art Nouveau. It was designed in 1902 by Félix-Benoit Boiret.
The monument to the three members of the Laurecisque family (c.1860?) is curious, to say the least. We see the three, apparently in their caskets - with their toes exposed! But why? What is the meaning? (There are no mistakes in art, as we all know.)
Here is a closer view of the Laurecisque group. One wonders (well, I wonder) if this concept was the artist's, or the family's.
Dr Pitchal's recent monument (1989) gives new meaning to the word "eerie". The artist Bertrand Richard used what cognoscenti call the "hollow face" illusion. The body and hands (including his pipe) are sculpted 'forward' like any normal bust, while the face is carved into the stone, 'backward' as it were, or 'inward'. This gives the clear impression that the good Doctor's eyes follow you as you walk by. This would be unsettling in any context. In a cemetery . . .
Alix Marquet (1875-1939) sculpted this remarkable piece in 1910-1912, not as cemetery artwork but (reportedly) for the Jardin du Luxembourg, not far from the Montparnasse cemetery where it stands today. According to some accounts, after a time - indeed, half a century! - in the Luxembourg Garden it suddenly (?) became "obscene", and it was removed in 1965 to its present location (seen here). The sculpture is called La fin d'un rêve [aka Séparation du couple]. It seems at home in a cemetery, as it depicts a grieving man and a departed (departing?) woman straining to say her last goodbye from "below".
The names of two men are shown on the base of this sculpture. I will call it Friendship, if I may.
One can arrive at Père Lachaise on the Métro, at a station with the same name. Once called "Cemetery of the East", it is the first "garden" cemetery and the first municipal cemetery in Paris. It is also the largest in the city, and its Wikipedia page claims it is the most visited necropolis in the world.
I don't know if the hourglass with wings [TEMPUS FUGIT = 'time flies' - get it?] is the official symbol of Père Lachaise, but it is seen everywhere, including here at the entrance.
I suppose this is what is meant by a "garden" cemetery (see above). This pleasant plot of grass and flowers is surrounded by trees and benches, and looks out from a hilltop toward the XIVe arrondissement and the tall, but otherwise boring, Montparnasse tower.
The shells on this gravestone are loose, placed there probably not long before I arrived, and likely no longer there.
This appears to be am engraver's mistake, in which an umlaut ( ̈ ) was placed incorrectly above the "U" in the family name, and had to be moved over to the "E". The revision was less than professional, as the mistaken diæresis is still clearly visible. Très gauche.
Albert Bartholomé's Monument aux morts [Monument to the Dead] (1899) occupies a prestigious position at the end of the main walkway of Père Lachaise. A plaster model of the somber sculpture can be seen at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon (see below).
One of the sculptural themes I always notice at cemeteries (as my regular readers will know) is the image of an angel or other person writing on the tomb, usually a date, or a word or phrase such as "Au revoir" or the like. This one is different. This woman is simply drawing a straight line.
Even if you know that the figure on this tomb is Jean-Joseph Carriès (1855-1894), a sculptor, ceramist and miniaturist, he still looks strange (to me) holding a tiny person standing in his left hand.
This intricately-detailed sarcophagus for Denis Decrès (1761-1821) is on a pedestal that is 8 or 10 feet high, maybe more.
The building behind this sculpture (sorry about the shadows; I couldn't move the tree) reminds me of a smokestack for a crematorium, but appears to be a family mausoleum. It dates from 1832.
An example of high Art Nouveau, circa 1899.
Lyon is one of those cities with dramatic (OK, semi-dramatic) landscape. From the Place Bellecour, presided over by Louis XIV and horse, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière (1872-1884) and the Tour métallique de Fourvière (1892-1894) sit high on a hill.
(In answer to the 'elephant in the room' question, according to online sources there is no [official] connection between Lyon's Tour métallique and the Tour Eiffel in Paris, which is more than twice as tall and was built just three years earlier. One can only assume that the same 'muse' visited both Gustave Eiffel and the Lyonnaise designers Collet and Roux-Meulien.)
The view of Lyon from the Basilica on Fourvière hill is, well, tourist-worthy.
The relatively new Basilica is not short on gingerbread, inside nor out.
I suppose it means something else in French. Right?
This ad for skin products may contain more than is seen at first glance. The expected woman (usually mother) holding the baby has been replaced ever-so-subtly by a (bare-chested) man. Think about just how unusual this is in advertising, leave alone in everyday life. Good for the French, letting us know that men are caregivers, too.
In my humble opinion, the trams in Lyon look like giant slugs. This one is crawling up to Gare de Lyon-Perrache.
Lyon's historic Place des Terreaux (currently under [re]construction, like most of Lyon) sits in front of the Palais Saint-Pierre, the site of a former Benedictine convent and now the location of the Musée des Beaux-Arts.
Look upward, and you can see the real colour of the Place des Terreaux.
The courtyard of the former convent is now a welcoming garden for visitors to the Musée des Beaux-Arts, and itself has quite a bit of outdoor sculpture.
One of the more unusual sculptures in the courtyard is Gilliat et la pieuvre [Gilliat and the Octopus] (1879) by Joseph Carlier (1849-1927). One senses Gilliat's apprehension, no?
Inside the Musée these un-named heads are used to demonstrate bronze casting methods.
I have written in previous vacation blogs about the two-finger hand codes used by early Christians to greet each other while keeping their identity (as Christians) secret from the authorities. This elaborate glove seems to be showing this coded greeting.
On close examination (I don't recommend it) you can see that the mohel, knife in hand, is about to make the unkindest cut. This painting - Le Guerchin's La Circoncision (1646) - convinces me that every, single incident in the life of Jesus has been rendered in artwork. This one is cringeworthy. Just reading about it (Luke 2:21) would have been enough.
Another cut, this time a whole head, is a little easier (for me) to deal with, despite the anatomical detail in the giant's neck provided by the anonymous artist, believed to be Italian. The museum calls this work David rendant grâce à Dieu après la mort de Goliath [David gives thanks to God after the death of Goliath] (1803).
Several times on this trip I came in contact with works of art depicting the struggle between Good and Evil. (Somebody trying to tell me something?) This is one such depiction, a large and complex work by Victor Orsel (1795-1850) titled Le Bien et le Mal Modello (1829). I've enlarged the small rectangle at the bottom of the work to show the personifications of the two forces. Of course, Good is White, Evil is Black, and they are arranged left (Good) to right (Evil). Later, when we get to Pisa, you'll see these arrangements again, in a monumental fresco from the XIVth century. Apparently, racial (and other) stereotypes are nothing new.
I'm all for gender equality, including all-gender restrooms, but in places where the facilities are still separated by gender (such as here in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon), the symbols on the doors could be a little easier to distinguish. At first - and second - glance, to me these are almost identical, and when you're in a hurry . . . OK, too much information. I know. Moving on.
Alessandria is an average Italian town that some railway agents in France assumed was in North Africa. (More than once, when trying to get times and itineraries from Lyon to Alessandria, their first assumption was that "you can't get to Egypt by train.")
This enormous bronze plaque, on the side of a building in the Piazza della Libertà, commemorates - in great detail! - a gift of 100 cannon in 1856. You've got to assume that was a much bigger deal then than it would be today.
Alessandria is justifiably proud of the sacrifices of its citizens in the World Wars, and other conflicts. Gaetano Orsolini (1884-1954) symbolised the sacrifice in his Il combattente [The Fighter] (1937), an heroic bronze of a man, presumably riding into battle, naked but for a helmet and cape. (Note that the horse, also, is naked.) Symbolism, readers - it's symbolism. As such, then, we must assume that the undeniably phallic position of the sword he's holding also is symbolic. The Art Deco reliefs on the pedestal are interesting, and the names of Alessandria's caduti (fallen) are inscribed around the base.
Colossal bronze art is one thing, street art (which some merely call graffiti) is another, but symbolism in both is common and sometimes is difficult to decipher. What can this possibly mean? (Happy) Doritos and strawberries are a good combination? The guy (gal?) at the left seems a bit skeptical.
The Parrochia San Pio V is a modern church that gives new meaning to the term "bell tower". Note also the cross on the roof, curved toward the street. (It is not falling or broken or melting - that's apparently how it was designed.)
This railway-station ad is begging for some street-artist modification. (Yes, that's how my mind works. Deal with it.)
The Cimitero Urbano in Alessandria, like many others in Italy and elsewhere in Europe, was established as a result of the Edict of St Cloud (1804), in which Napoleon ordered that the dead no longer could be buried within city walls as this was beginning to constitute a health hazard.
Perhaps also for health reasons (?), dogs are not allowed.
Niches in hallways - like apartment buildings in cities (if you'll excuse the comparison) - accomodate those whose social status can't quite justify (or afford) a place in the prestigious porticati.
Formerly located on its own near Alessandria's Porta Marengo, after Napoleon's 1804 edict the Cimitero ebraico (Jewish Cemetery) was relocated to the same plot as the city cemetery, albeit in a separate walled area.
Unfortunately, I didn't notice this sign until after I walked around the Jewish cemetery and returned to the 'main' area. It says, "Please enter [with] head covered." (And me, without a kippah [yarmulke].)
At first glance, the Cimitero Urbano di Alessandria looks like many other, but a closer look reveals at least a few quite interesting sculptures.
This is one of those funerary sculptures that gradually overwhelms the viewer the longer you look at it. The (unknown) artist has, in my opinion, captured 'Mournful' like few other piecees I have seen.
These niches for members of the Bello family - two under age 5 and all of whom died on 30 April 1944 - have the same inscription: "per incursione aerea" next to a cross symbol. Any resident of Italy over a certain age will recognise this code for "died in an aerial bombing".
The bas-relief on this niche seems sadly ironic: a plane plummeting toward the ground on a grave marker for a "Tenente Pilota Istruttore" - "Lieutenant Pilot Instructor".
Elegance is the word for this memorial to a young woman gone too soon.
Italian cemeteries always have at least a few Thanatos Angels, such as this one found in a dark hallway between what appears to be the original cemetery and a more recent addition. (Note the characteristic 'downturned torch of life' at his right.)
Some funerary art appears to depict the occupation of the deceased, which surely is the case here. This bronze, by the way, likely has been maintained carefully (and recently). It looks like it was sculpted last week.
The Provera Mausoleum, in what is probably the newest sector of the cemetery, is quite impressive. (I was not able to determine the date of its construction.)
One of the panels on the Provera Mausoleum apparently depicts Adam and Eve, and one other figure who doesn't look (to me) like God, but who else could it be? (Of course, what do I know? I could be wrong on all counts.) The sculptor signature on both sides of the large Mausoleum says "Pellini". (I was unable to narrow this down to any particular sculptor with this name. I did my best.)
Here I saw something I had never seen at a cemetery before - but was later to see again in at least one other cemetery on this trip: a cabinet full of keys, and it was out in plain sight. My presumption is that these are keys that open the mausolea or other gates or doors on tombs and niches. (But, again, what do I know?)
Another copy - pardon me, tribute - of the Monteverde Angel (the original of which is on the Oneto tomb, Staglieno, Genova).
An angel here is writing "Laus Magna Tibi Tribuetur" - "Great praise will be given unto thee" - while his pals seem to be playing around the rock. The sculpture of 1897 is signed by the artist Enrico Cassi (1863-1913).
Not all cemetery artwork is stone, bronze or marble - there are a few frescoes and occasionally mosaics. In this fresco, the angel seems to be toe-balancing on the bronze urn (at least from where I was standing).
Many of the sculptures at Pavia Cemetery - many more than anywhere else I've visited - stand with outstretched arms like this figure, probably a likeness of Jesus.
The sculptor's skill in fashioning piercing eyes (from bronze!) is remarkable.
Another sculpture with outstretched arms, and I begin to wonder if some important, influential sculpture at this cemetery started a trend, and other sculptors followed.
Outstretched arms, again . . .
and once again.
The Merlo mausoleum has interesting bas-relief panels on either side of the 'entrance'.
The detailed panels are signed by sculptor Giovanni Scapola.
Surely any kind of Beet, roasted or otherwise, couldn't be worth 19,90 a kilo. (But then, I jest!)
This map on the side of a bus depicting the European Union seems to be making a political comment about England - the universal symbol for 'disabled' sits right over London, and England is currently (2019) struggling to extricate itself from the EU. Or is it?
The Cimitero Monumentale della Certosa di Ferrara, like several others in Italy, notably Bologna, was set up in a repurposed monastery when Napoleon decreed in 1804 that burials could no longer take place within city walls. The word "Certosa" often is translated "Charterhouse".
The Ferrara monastery, and now the Cemetery, are situated around a grand Church, the Chiesa di San Cristoforo alla Certosa.
When Mario Zagatti died in 1907 he was almost 7 years old. His family engaged Pietro Arcangioli (1846-1938) to create a memorial, and the artist chose to depict Mario himself, running toward an angel, arms outstretched ready to go to heaven. For me, this sort of idealised realism is a bit much, kind of an "easy heart-tugger", but it may be what the family wanted - indeed, it may be what the family needed. If so, then who am I to judge.
This angel is writing "Riconoscenza" - "Gratitude", with space left for the observer to imagine the rest of the thought, if any. This monument, created in 1886, obviously has been well-maintained and/or recently restored.
The Cimitero del Piratello di Imola has a long pre-history (so to speak), as it was a convent and Marian shrine, founded after a pilgrim had a vision of the Madonna on the site in 1483. The stone, next to the entrance to the Basilica (enlarged at the right above) dates the Church at 1525.
I've mentioned elsewhere the common history of cemeteries being started as a result of Napoleon's Edict of St Cloud in 1804, requiring burials to take place only outside city walls. The fact that many of these cemeteries were built in former convents or monasteries is also the result of Napoleon's reforms, however less admirable (in my humble opinion). In Imola, for example, Napoleon's revolutionaries suppressed religious congregations in 1798 just in time for the buildings and grounds to become available as cemeteries. How convenient!
The Gardi family may not have gotten their money's worth back in the 1920s. The Latin inscription around their Mausoleum makes reference to familiar funereal ideas - Life, Resurrection, Rest - but the word REQVIEM is mis-spelt as REQIEM. (In my seven years of formal study of Latin, I never saw this spelling as a variation of REQUIEM/REQVIEM.) Also, the word RESVRRECTVRIS, which is split across two angles of stone, is spelt as RESV-RECTVRIS, missing one 'R'. You know the old saying, "It's not set in stone . . ."? Well, they can't use that here!
The Piratello cemetery has been undergoing extensive restoration, not only to the monuments but to the buildings and stonework themselves. Several porticati are blocked with temporary fencing such as this.
This is the tomb of Giulio Cesare Cerchiari, and the bust on top of the sarcophagus seems to 'channel' his namesake. I've seen busts of Julius Caesar (the original Roman) that look very similar to this one.
One of the oldest parts of the cemetery is the courtyard of the (former) convent.
One wall of the courtyard (seen in the previous photo) has this bas-relief remembering the untimely death of Costanza, wife of Giacomo Tassinari (that's how it's noted in the inscription), who died in 1863, aged 39. This is another example of well-maintained and/or restored marble sculpture, considering the fact that it's been outdoors (albeit in a covered hallway) for more than 150 years.
In my cemetery visits over the last five years or so, this is the second time I've seen this symbolism on a monument: the tree of life, broken in two.
This was my first visit to Sardegna (Sardinia), Italy's 'other' large island (the already-visited one being Sicily, of course). Sassari is an authentically ancient town. This column, however, which reminds one of the much-larger, nearly-2,000-year-old column of Marcus Aurelius in Rome, is not part of the city's ancient works. It was created in 1952 by artist Eugenio Tavolara (1901-1963) and dedicated to Saint Anthony, as a complement to the Chiesa di Sant'Antonio next door.
I'm often amused at stores in other countries that try to use English words for their names or advertising. Here we have "Indian Kebab and Food", as if that's two different categories of stuff you can buy here.
There's less political graffiti than I would expect, but this kind of makes up for it. Note that the entire message is in English.
A brief walk through a Sassari park, and I come across this hilarious scene. Here is the venerated San Franceso (St Francis), preaching to the animals, as was his custom, in this case pigeons. What's hilarious is that there are two real pigeons, lined up just like the stone ones, as if they're listening, too.
The Chiesa San Paolo al Cimitero probably already had some burials in its yard when the city created the cemetery we see today in 1837.
From the other side, the Chiesa (Church) walls simply extend along the boundaries to form the walls of the original cemetery. It has, of course, expanded since then to several other areas.
Sculptor Antonio Usai (1873-1949) contributed several monuments to the Sassari cemetery, including this one for himself and his own family. It depicts a touching image of death as merely sleep - an image used by Shakespeare, among many others. ("And our little life is rounded with a sleep" --The Tempest, IV:1)
The pyramid mausoleum for the Ardisson family is one of the more famous monuments here. It has bronze sculptures almost all around the base, sculpted by Andrea Usai (life dates unknown) and Augusto Conti (1822-1905) and placed here in 1906-1907.
One of the Ardisson bronzes is downright scary. Here the Grim Reaper ('Grande Mietitrice' in Italian) summons the dead to their fate. It is known locally as "la tomba della strega" ("the witch's tomb").
Not far from Ardisson (see above) is the Dessi family pyramid (1902), the work of Giuseppe Sartorio (1854-1922).
Once again (as one can see in cemeteries in South America, England, United States of America, and many others) we find a copy of Bimbo inginocchiato orante [Child Kneeling in Prayer] (1830c.), the work of Italian sculptor Luigi Pampaloni (1791-1847).
This angel is writing in an area of the monument that used to have text, now replaced - quite a bit above where the angel is writing - with block lettering. When you're there in person, you can see the faint outline of the script (cursive) text at the point of the angel's quill (also now missing).
The Passino tomb has a gate in the right wall, perhaps to a stairway leading down into a subterranean mausoleum, with a clear warning to potential intruders.
The Pietri-Azzati sculpture (1899) appears (to me) to be the clearest example of the "androgynous angel" that bridges the gap between the male angels (XIXth century and before) and the female representations (XXth century and later). The trumpet identifies this as a "resurrection" angel, traditionally a male (viz. Gabriel), while the ambiguous figure incorporates characteristics of both genders.
Soldier Andreino Guidetti died, perhaps in battle, at the age of 22. This unusual monument was sculpted in 1889 by the prolific Giuseppe Sartorio (1854-1922), whose work is well represented here in Sassari.
The tomb of Prof. Dott. Ubaldo Simula (died 1949) now welcomes cemetery visitors at the main entrance to the Sassari cemetery.
Images of religious figures are common on graves, though they tend to be Biblical-era people such as Jesus, Mary, St John the Baptist, and so forth. This image, almost certainly Pope (now Saint) John XXIII, seems unusually modern for a grave marker, but not inappropriate.
If you want (borderline) inappropriate, how about flowers in a Vat 69 bottle. Happy flowers, I'm sure.
Next to the Cimitero Monumentale di Bonaria in Cagliari is the Basilica Nostra Signora di Bonaria, also known as Our Lady of Fair Winds, Star of the Sea, Patron of Sailboats, as indicated by this sculpture out front.
Given 'developments' in Western society, perhaps this should read, "Woman Accessories: Man, Kids". (Seen on a fashionable shopping street in Cagliari)
The Cimitero Monumentale di Bonaria sits on an ancient necropolis. (Ancient burial caves still are preserved, and open to visitors along the South side.) These days, of course, it's all tombstones and sculptures.
One of the older monuments is the quirky memorial to Giuseppina Ara dei conti Ciarella (1870) by Agostino Allegro (1846-1889). The angel's wild hair and intense eyes can be seen in various photographs on the Web, including a vintage photograph (c.1870) from Wikimedia Commons.
In addition to his many contributions to the Cemetery in Sassari to the North, Giuseppe Sartorio (1854-1922) is also represented here at Cagliari in the South. His monument to ten-year-old Gastone Ciprietti (1906-1916) in his National Boarding School uniform is particularly poignant.
Another Giuseppe Sartorio contribution is the remarkable Birocchi-Silvetti-Berola chapel (1891). The busts of the deceased husband and wife, along with the tiny angel requesting silence are completely overshadowed by the astounding curtain behind them, carved in marble, fringe and all.
Themes sometimes emerge in cemeteries, whether intentional or not. (See my comments above about the outstretched arms at Pavia.) Here, three statues in one photograph are reaching out, as if to comfort a child.
Sculptures which pull off the illusion of a 'floating' angel continue to fascinate me. Here, a winged bronze by Andrea Valli (1870-1948) attends to the figure atop the Famiglia Magnini Galeazzo monument.
The ever-present Vesuvio, as seen from the train near Napoli.
The Cimitero di Poggioreale, opened soon after Napoleon's 1804 Edict, is also known as the Camposanto Nuevo (New Graveyard). Everything is relative.
Poggioreale cemetery is built on a hill, like many Italian cemeteries.
Again, we see the ever-present (if not ever-threatening) Vesuvio in the distance. Oh! the calamity it caused on 24 October 79 CE.
According to a most generous and kind cemetery guard who helped me find some monuments, this grand courtyard in the heart of the Poggioreale cemetery was a temporary 'home' to Fascist (or was it Nazi?) troops during WW II. He pointed out some bullet-holes still visible there.
Speaking of Fascists, when I expressed interest in this sculpture, my generous guide pointed out that this was one of their graves. From various sources on the Web, I learned that Aurelio Padovani (1889-1926) was an early, popular Fascist politician who was increasingly disliked by Mussolini because of his leftist positions. He died a young man under mysterious, never-explained circumstances. (That's 'code' for 'he may have been murdered'.) As for the sculpture, to me it's very reminiscent of Leonardo's famous 'unfinished' sculptures, in which the figure appears to be emerging from the marble. This figure is also breaking restraints around his midsection, so the powerful image works on several levels. A large sculptural monument to Padovani was erected in Napoli in 1934, then destroyed at the end of World War II in Italy's general removal of Fascist symbols. Agreed, the Fascists were pigs at best. Still, I reject the destruction of artworks and records from the past as unacceptable 'revisionist history'. How are we to deal with neo-Fascist pigs of today if we whitewash what happened in the past?
My spontaneous guide - he really was helpful, and walked around with me for at least an hour - mentioned several times that a recent theft had occurred at what was his favourite monument - the Monumento della Sposa (1897). For more than a hundred years, a detailed bronze bas-relief filled the back wall of this chapel for the Filippo Buchy family, until thieves began removing large sections, piece by piece on several successive nights, presumably to melt down the bronze and sell the metal. (It wasn't the artwork they were after.) The left and centre pictures are from the many news reports found online, the picture at the right is my own, showing the empty chapel wall.
Some of the chapels at Poggioreale are rather exotic.
Some of the chapels are extremely exotic.
The snack store at the Siena railway station features these delicacies. No further comment is necessary (or appropriate).
The Siena Duomo is justifiably famous for its façade and interior. The long view from down the hill on the North side doesn't really do it justice, except to illustrate just how large it is.
Siena claims an interesting connection to Rome, which I wondered about on my first visit there in 2005 when I saw the inscription "S.P.Q.S." [SENATUS POPULUSQUE SENENSIS - The Senate and People of Siena] along with the wolf statue you see here. On this trip, I learned the back story. Siena (according to legend) was founded by Senio and Ascanio, the twin sons of Remus, brother (and murder victim) of Romulus, the founder of Rome. The Siennese brothers brought with them the wolf that had sheltered and fed their father and uncle, which explains the sculpture here in front of the Duomo. (The original sculpture is inside the Duomo museum, and replicated all over the city. Also, this version of the story, like any legend, has many variations. This account comes from the Lupa senese Wikipedia page [Italian].)
The Libreria Piccolomini is a remarkable chamber of the Siena Duomo with nearly floor-to-ceiling frescoes like this one, by Bernardino di Betto [detto Pinturicchio] (1454-1513). Here we see Pius II canonising St Catherine of Siena (1502-1507).
This sign in the Piccolomini Library is almost polite (but not quite).
Art is important to Siena's cultural identity, both permanent and temporary. The sculpture at the left is the Fontanella della Contrada del Drago [Little Fountain of the District of the Dragon] (1977), by sculptor Vico Consorti (1902-1979). The figure on the steps in front of the Oratorio di Santa Caterina del Paradiso is Largo gesto IV [Broad Gesture 4] by Alberto Inglesi (born 1952), one of several, er, um, anatomically correct sculptures around Siena during the time I was there. (Don't look too close.)
By the way, in case there's an issue with copyrights on relatively recent sculptures, this is a picture of the entrance to Santa Caterina. The statues just happen to be in the way.
Siena's Cimitero Monumentale della Misericordia is one of two major cemeteries in the city. (The other was, for me, completely unremarkable.)
Some people lay flowers at cemetery monuments, others dress them with scarves (or do both).
The Cappella Saracini features a sculpture by Vico Consorti (the sculptor of the Fontanella shown a few pictures above), this one called Angelo Musicante (1975).
This memorial for Giovanni Forni (died 1867) is interesting for several reasons. First, it is (literally) graffiti - artwork 'scratched' in the surface of the marble, rather than carved. Second, the cross under the artwork is flanked by the letters "A" and "Z", where one might have expected Α and Ω - Alpha and Omega, the early Christian characterisation of Jesus as the Beginning and the End.
This Thanatos angel is doing double duty - with the torch of life as well as the trumpet (for announcing the resurrection). The sculptor's signature suggests it was probably by Carlo Lorenzetti (1858-1945).
The Cappella D'Elci Pannocchieschi was originally the Cappella Pozzesi when Tito Scarrocchi (1824-1900) placed this haunting sculpture, Tobia seppellisce un morto [Tobias Buries a Dead Man], into the simple, elegant room in 1873. It isn't often that scenes from the Apocrypha are depicted in art. This image derives from the book of Tobit. King Sennacherib has decreed that when Jews died, they must be thrown outside the city walls. Tobias, and his father Tobit, defied the decree, burying their fellow Jews inside the city, under cover of night: "If I saw any one of my people dead . . . I would bury him." (Tobit I:17, RSV)
The Camposanto Monumentale di Pisa is a compact burial structure, arranged around a courtyard and containing tombs, ancient sarcophagi and monumental XIVth century frescoes.
Buonamico Buffalmacco (fl.1315-1336) painted his Inferno (1336) so large that I couldn't get it all into one shot without photographing it from down the hall, which would have distorted it too much. I photographed it in two halves, and they're shown here. (The wall of Hell in the middle can help you put the halves back together.)
Remember the Good and Evil painting a couple of weeks ago (i.e., in Lyon's Musée des Beaux-Arts shown above)? This is another Good and Evil artwork, with the Good on the left (as usual), and the Evil on the right.
The Evil (right) side includes a 'scene' of the condemned, standing around holding their own severed heads. That's Evil.
The most Evil vision, however, is reserved for Satan himself, who is seen eating, digesting and, well, eliminating the truly damned. This fresco in its entirety is almost overwhelming. As a XXth/XXIst century observer with at least some sense of artistic symbolism, who paid to get into the Camposanto, I was unnerved by these images. Imagine someone in the XIVth century who, probably unable to read, would take the imagery much more seriously and literally. S/He likely would have been terrified - just enough to go out and live a good life (just in case).
I read of a remarkable public bronze sculptural group - five kids and a dog playing on the rocks - in Viareggio, so I spent half a day (and risked my life) to go out and see it. I knew it was out on a jetty (the plaque, in fact, identifies it as "The Little Plaza of 'The Kids of the Jetty'"), and I could see the jetty from the main boardwalk of Viareggio, a sort of Atlantic City knockoff popular with tourists and Italians on holiday. I didn't know, however, how to find the access to the jetty, so I started walking. To make a very long story a little shorter, I had to walk about two miles South to get around a marina and shipyards, before I found the beach access leading to the beginning of the jetty.
Here's the risking my life part: the jetty was only about three feet wide, and most of the way, the drop off either side was anywhere between ten and twenty feet down. (This photo shows only the last few metres of the thousand-metre-plus jetty walkway.) It was frightening, but I made it and took some pictures. Then, of course, I had to go back, and the terror started all over again. Boy, what I do for art (and for my readers)!
Back in Viareggio, waiting for the train back to Firenze, I stopped at the café for a café (espresso doppio), where I shared the room with these carnival (?) masks of apparently famous people.
The Valleri tomb at the Cimitero della Misericordia di Antella (a suburb of Firenze) literally commands silence. The sculpture (1890-1891), and the ambience, are awesome, such is the influence of this artwork by Dante Sodini (1858-1934).
From the sublime to the ridiculous? The altar of this semi-open-air chapel has a Saint in residence - Saint Nick. How strange!
The first room of the Galleria d'Arte Moderna in the Palazzo Pitti. Note that "Arte Moderna" here refers to art that was 'modern' when the Palazzo Pitti became a museum, so it includes works as far back as the XVIIIth century. Everything's relative.
-- page created 28 April 2019