Who Is More Magnificent, Medici or Saatchi?

By Ratcliffe, Michael | New Statesman (1996), October 31, 1997 | Go to article overview

Who Is More Magnificent, Medici or Saatchi?


Ratcliffe, Michael, New Statesman (1996)


Historic Florence is an intimidatingly butch city. No wonder the Medici had to have six balls on their armorial bearings - even if four fell off, they still had two to play with. The back of the Palazzo Vecchio stands so sharp to the pavement that you would cross the road to avoid it, were such an option ever undertaken lightly in Florence. Not only are the stones rusticated with those low-pyramid diamond-panes that turn most Florentine palaces into alert armadillos, but just before the two walls meet on the corner, a third one thrusts itself meanly between them, cut like a razor. Indoors, only when you reach Machiavelli's office under the roof and the room where Dominican cosmographers sketched out Java, Florida, and the rest of the known world in maps of gold and blue, does the melodrama of state promotion give way to the painstaking reality of power.

Across the Arno, the Pitti Palace, to which the Medicis decamped when they became Grand Ducal, looks entirely real. It looks, in fact, like a huge prison, and scowls hard at visitors ascending the steep slope designed to make them feel small. Inside, however, in the summer rooms normally occupied by the Museo degli Argenti, all is joy. Showbiz, even. Which must be what the critic of the Corriere della Sera meant when she dismissed it as solo trash. She is, of course, Milanese.

"Magnificence at the Court of the Medici", subtitled "art in Florence at the end of the 16th century", is an exhibition of Renaissance treasures designed by Pier Luigi Pizzi, better known outside Italy for his lavish, lazy opera productions, but here on great form. It provides the perfect antidote to all that low-charm masculinity squaring up to the streets outside. The show claims "to create an entirely new exhibition style", but British visitors may feel that actually it's early Roy Strong, with more money, real Renaissance rooms, and fibre-optic lighting. You feel at times that you've wandered into a production of Verdi's Don Carlos, but won't be required to sing. What could be more thrilling?

Magnificence is surprisingly well focused, confined to seven rooms, and to 44 years in the reigns of Grand Duke Cosimo I and his sons Francesco and Fernando: 1565-1609, within the span of William Shakespeare's life. The brief is to display items from the Medici collections in the original manner, before they were scattered into separate, didactic, single-discipline museums after the unification of Italy in 1870.

"Modern" (ie, Renaissance) sculpture by Giambologna stands beside classical sculpture, in order to prove it is just as good, perhaps even better. Paintings can be seen in the same rooms as objects which were often more valued by collectors at the time: jewellery, crossbows and armillary spheres, rock crystal vessels that shimmer like ice and silk. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Who Is More Magnificent, Medici or Saatchi?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.