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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Boboli Gardens- Part IV

-The Islet
At the end of the great avenue, the botanical furniture changes suddenly, disappear the cypress trees and hedges and it comes to the soft forms of the Islet, designed by Giulio and Alfonso Parigi since 1618. The square is surrounded by hedges of oak about 12 feet high, forming a backdrop to the many stone and marble statues depicting various subjects: mythological, historical, rural, commoners.
At the center of the square is the protagonist, the large circular bath, with the island in the middle connected to the mainland by two bridges. The great gates of the walkways are supported by two columns on each of which is the statue of a Capricorn. The sides of the columns are the fanciful fountains shaped as "harpies" men who pay the water in tanks shell-shaped, with a complex decoration of grotesque marine life.
At the axis, perpendicular to the Avenue, are four fountains , two on each side: the fountains of the Harpies and those of putti decorated with entwined dolphins, sea animals, fantastic masks and statues. Near these fountains, marble groups emerge from the water, by the school of Giambologna (1637), of considerable charm: the Perseus on horseback (southeast) and Andromeda with his ankles chained to the rock (northwest); in particular the Perseus has placed itself as jumping out of water, an effect that was highlighted by the fountains. In the middle of the basin, the island is surrounded by a stone balustrade.
The center of the island is decorated by the fountain of the Ocean, by Giambologna, that consists of a base with bas-reliefs (The Rape of Europa, the Triumph of Neptune and The bath of Diana) which supports a vast, circular pool made of granite of the island of Elba , above which rises the group of sculptures of Neptune, surrounded by the reclining river Gods. They represent the Nile, the Ganges and the Euphrates, symbolically pouring their waters into the big pool, representing the ocean. The fountain of the Ocean is more ancient than this part of the garden and once stood at the center of the amphitheater of Boboli, executed for Francis I in 1576 and served as the prototype for all the sculptures of this subject.

Renaissance Garden Fountains

The Italian Renaissance Garden : From the Conventions of Planting, Design, and Ornament to the Grand Gardens of Sixteenth - Century Central Italy. With photographs by Ralph Lieberman


Garden of Love in Tuscan Art of the Early Renaissance
Statues around the Islet:

The Islet, the Fountain:

Statues and Fountains:

The Faun in the Garden: Michelangelo and the Poetic Origins of Italian Renaissance Art.: An article from: Renaissance Quarterly

GIAMBOLOGNA An Exhibition of Sculpture By the Master and His Followers, From the Collection of Michael Hall Esq.

-The Hemicycle or the Lawn of the Columns
In Axis with the Avenue, by the small island separated by two trees, marked by a symmetrical neoclassical design with small obelisks, is the large semicircular Square of the House or Lawn of the Columns, so called by the two red Egyptian granite columns that support many vessels of white marble.
The Hemicycle is surrounded on the curved side by  twelve green niches with statues (mostly busts of the seventeenth century). The straight hand side consists of a high box hedge of greenery with niches containing four ancient colossal busts: Jupiter Serapis, Jupiter, a male god and perhaps the Emperor Claudius. Remarkable is also the statue of Vulcan, by Chiarissimo Fancelli.

-Towards Porta Romana
The tip of the garden behind the Chamber, is occupied by a roundabout with geometric hedges, where are located numerous stone statues like three grotesque figures of Romulus Tadda depicting Venus, Cupid and the personification of Architecture. Also interesting is the fountain of Botticelli, formed by a statue of a peasant who empty a barrel (of John Fancelli, 1560) in a tank made of a Roman sarcophagus.

Italian gardens of the Renaissance and other studies by Julia Ca

-The limonaia
The doctors were among the first to spread the fashion of citrus fruit in their gardens. Citrus plants are not growing normally in Tuscany because the winters are too rigid, so they were actually considered as exotic plants. Their great ornamental value led to a desire to collect these plants, which had to find shelter during the winter indoors, in buildings dedicated to them, just called "limonaia". These plants should not be planted in the ground, but in large clay pots. The lemon should have a mild but dry microclimate. The limonaia of Boboli is located half way between the Palace and the end of the garden. It is the result of the conversion of a former factory of mosaics, statues and sponges, and it was built around 1778 and designed by Zanobi del Rosso, during a general reorganization of the garden by the Grand Duke Peter Leopold. This site at the time of Cosimo III there was a seraglio of exotic animals, bought or received as gifts from foreign rulers, but also the animals of the kitchen. The facade of limonaia is constructed by the regular repetition of four bays with four windows plus four upper windows separated by pilasters; at the top is a scroll with festoons of fruit and a slightly projecting gable, the panels around the windows have a the "Lorraine Green" also used in Kaffeehaus. But, unlike the latter, the color of limonaia has remained the same over the centuries. A long slightly projecting cornice above the doors concludes the elegant facade. The sculptures on the facade are the Muses, while in the front is the group of Fortuna with a cornucopia, a Roman work copied from Hellenistic sculptures, as well as the piper by Giovanni Battista Caccini.
During the winter, the limonaia is still crowded with a lot of plants, especially citrus fruits, some of which date back to the Medici.

-The house of the Meridian
The Palace of Meridiana, neoclassical work started by Gaspare Maria Paoletti under the Grand Duke Peter Leopold in 1778 and completed by Pasquale Poccianti in 1822-1840, named after the meridian which is inside. It is accessed from Palazzo Pitti. Currently it houses the Gallery of Fashion, but some years ago hosted Collection Contini-Bonacossi.

-The garden of Count
Adjoining to the Lawn of Columns, there is a n hidden garden, very difficult to find out, known as the Sundial Garden of the Count, closed by a gate and shielded by a hedge of oak and laurel.

the Limonaia

Virtual tour of the Gardens

Giambologna tra Firenze e l'Europa: Atti del convegno internazionale, Firenze, Istituto universitario olandese di storia dell'arte (Italia e i Paesi Bassi) (Italian Edition)

GIAMBOLOGNA, 1529-1608, Sculptor to the Medici. Aug.-Sept. 1978. Catalogue edited by Charles Avery and Anthony Radcliffe.

Italian Parks & Gardens

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