Sunday, May 03, 2015

Florence and the Museo Stibbert

In Florence in a small apartment about 2 km away from the San Maria Novella Railway station. I did an overnight bus trip from Narbonne and as the bus was full, the trip was not the most comfortable- then add the fact that arrival day was 1 May a National Holiday in much of Europe and well nothing much happened on my first day here. As it is a holiday weekend ,all the main museums are free, so I thought better of  standing in a queue though I will do some of that later in the month.In fact i was not going to do anything at all, except have lunch at the little restaurant I found yesterday- but I was 10 minutes too early( hey my stomach has turned french on me lol!) and  went to the market instead and bought fresh vegetables and cheese and wine. Cooked my lunch and then thought I should walk and see the Museo Stibbert which is not far from here and which the owners of the apartment had impressed upon me as a must see, and you have to listen to local people right?

Well what a delight it was and I seemed to have missed most of the costume collection somehow. The museum was a gift to the city of Florence  from Frederick Stibbert who was born of an English father and  Italian mother in 1838. He rode in  Garibaldi's campaign to unify Italy and collected widely though mainly suits of armour and  things associated with those, though there are also a large number of paintings in the collection, as well as collections devoted to particular countries such as Japan. During his years of collecting , his collection outgrew his first house so he bought a second, which he connected with a grand hall which was designed to house a life size cavalcade.So i have to admit armour is not my thing at all, nor are pieces of equipment of war, or things that kill people, but I have to admit the collection was pretty amazing- sheer size, idiosyncracy and well passion saw to that. You get a sense of his passion because it is housed in his original house to which he added bits in order to house more things.And then the decoration of the house to support his collection was of itself amazing. My only complaint was the completely awful lighting- things can be improved a great deal in that department!


We were guided through the museum by a guide( they only let in 25 people at a time and the tour takes an hour and is in Italian, so it is not packed at any given time) and the gardens are free , used by  the citizens of Florence and visitors alike.Most of the outside of the house is nineteenth century and nineteenth century renovations.The plaques on the wall are heraldic plaques.

These images are from the Islamic room in his house, replete with carved walls. The texture on this foot soldiers costume on the left was just gorgeous. The horses are life size and the models used ( which were created to  Stibberts directions as he was also a keen equestrian) are very realistic- marvellous in fact. Even the faces of the people riding the horses were meant to represent real people.





 The photo top left is in the hall that was built to house the cavalcade- life size horses- my goodness quite powerful really and the horse above in its suit of armour- what wonderful texture and sheer visual gorgeousness. And the appliqued details of a saddle cloth in the photo on the left- worn so that the threads of the embroidery are clearly visible.


A lot of the house was renovated to suit the collection but also contained many elements of pure decoration. To say that the experience of entering a room was one where decoration was over the top would not be an understatement- every spare inch has some sort of  decorative element. The image left above was painting on the windows- I could not get close enough but no doubt hand painted. The images on right is of panelling on the walls- which were not your usual wall paper but patches of leather which had been embossed and hand painted- literally hundreds of these panels over many of the walls.




 The photo left above was an alcove covered in tiling and majolica ware- it was like walking into a peacock's tail. And the panel on the right was painted onto the wall- it was quite large, but who painted it? There was little information on the provenance of some of the material in the house itself. One can only imagine the number of artisans and artists who must have worked on this house at various times. And the bed cover on the right is a quilt- it seems very modern and out of place but was made especially for Frederick from silk and velvet sometime in the late nineteenth century. Isn't it gorgeous?


detail of the quilt- unfortunately my detail of the centre of the quilt was out of focus but it almost appeared to be the labels off something( which made me think of it as a late twentieth century quilt)
And last but not least the gardens are a haven of cool in the afternoon sun- almost forlorn and kind of forgotten with elements crumbling and large shady trees which were supposed to be like an English park.All in all an unexpected joyful kind of day filled with a lot of inspiration really.

And then I have been carrying around a bag of scarps for quite some years now. I carry them in case there is just the right bit in there for someone when I am teaching.  But really this time I have grown tired of it. What to do with it? I ironed all the scraps- am still undecided- who knows it may grow into something.
 Don't the scraps look different ironed... hmm maybe it will grow into something- maybe indigo background, maybe the Nepalese rough linen ( was it linen I have forgotten the name) might be interesting to use

3 comments:

Quilting Dee said...

A most interesting post! Your photos are fabulous. You brought the beauty into my room. Thanks for sharing.

aber andro said...

Horse sculpture looks very different, interesting.
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alvar said...

Antiguos valores históricos han sido curiosidad todas las cosas.
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