ARTIGIANATO E PALAZZO: MEMORIES OF RUSSIA IN FLORENCE
A tribute to the multicultural identity of the city
and its historical bond with the russian community
edition marks the milestone of twenty-five
years of the ARTIGIANATO E PALAZZO Exhibition (Giardino Corsini, Florence, 16-19
May), developed from a project by
Giorgiana Corsini and Neri Torrigiani to promote, preserve and carry into the future the arts linked
with the best Italian and foreign artisan traditions.
But also, to create a network between those who
practise their manual crafts with passion, giving them the opportunity to
compare notes on skills, knowledge and resources.
“Our commitment in these years has been to
place the focus of attention on two principles which we consider fundamental
for the development of our country: preserving
the age-old artistic trades, fruit of Italian ingenuity; giving space to dialogue in order to build a bridge
between history and innovation”, underline Giorgiana Corsini and Neri
same time, our ambition is to bring young talented people into contact with
Master craftspeople, to help them plan their future, through the preservation
and promotion of artisan traditions”.
In a unique setting, in the seventeenth century
Italian-style Giardino Corsini, designed by Gherardo Silvani, this year the
Exhibition will present a new selection of over 100 artisans from Italy and abroad who will come to Florence, not
only to display their products, but also to put themselves to the test, in live
demonstrations of their skills. And they will interact with the visitors,
revealing the secrets of their unique creative works.
The event continues with a “fund-raising
campaign to promote the Florentine cultural heritage” addressed to
private citizens and businesses. In 2018 it was dedicated to the reopening of
the Richard Ginori Museum of the Manifattura di Doccia.
“For the 25th year of the
Exhibition we wish to pay a tribute to the multicultural and international
identity of our city by setting ourselves a challenge, as patrons of the arts,
where history and modernity meet”.
The campaign “ARTIGIANATO E PALAZZO: MEMORIES OF RUSSIA IN FLORENCE” will be
dedicated to the restoration and conservation of some extraordinary works of
art, that testify to the cultural bond between Florence and the Russian community which, in the course of the 19th
and early 20th century, embellished the city with residences, churches and
important art collections.
Throughout the century, poets, artists,
intellectuals, but also aristocrats and clerics, came to Florence, bringing
their cultural and spiritual knowledge with them, bursting with ideas and
artistic ferment, turning the city into an international melting pot of
Retracing the steps taken by the so-called “Russian colony”, the aim of the
international fund-raising campaign “ARTIGIANATO
E PALAZZO: MEMORIES OF RUSSIA IN FLORENCE” is to renew the links between the Florentine community and Russia.
But also, as always, to promote the great Florentine tradition of craftsmanship
and its new talented exponents.
The target is to collect over
€308,000,00 in order to be able to carry out urgent restoration and
conservation works on the masterpieces of the Demidoff Collection housed in the Stibbert Museum; on the Hemicycle
of the Evangelical Cemetery “agli Allori”; and to
complete the restoration works on the Church
of the Nativity of Christ and Saint Nicholas the Thaumaturge (the icons of St Andrew and John the Theologian, the large iron entrance door by the Officine Michelucci and the fresco of the Annunciation in the narthex).
By taking part in the campaign, the donors will
become an active part of the history of ARTIGIANATO E PALAZZO, but also of
Florence itself, since their names will appear in these important lieux
de mémoire, witnesses to the history of Florence and its profound
cultural exchanges with the Russian community.
The organisers of ARTIGIANATO E PALAZZO, Giorgiana Corsini
and Neri Torrigiani, have decided to offer some sculptures of the young
Florentine artist Riccardo Prosperi - aka "Simafra" - and the
donations collected for these works will be channelled into the fund-raising
project: ten unique numbered pieces, presented in a special Catalogue, with an
introduction by Natalia Parenko, Director of the St. Petersburg Art Academy in
Specifically, there will be sculptures of various diameters
(roughly from 25 to 50 cm) that transform the idea of the folkloristic Russian
Matryoshka dolls into concentric globes in which the “geological eras” are
represented by materials that can be traced to the Siberian mines: gold,
malachite, diamonds, hard coal, gas…
ARTIGIANATO E PALAZZO EXHIBITION MEMORIES OF RUSSIA IN FLORENCE is
open to everyone and all donations are appreciated.
Supporters will receive different rewards depending on the donations they
make: invitation to the ARTIGIANATO E PALAZZO Exhibition preview cocktail,
exclusive meetings, visits to historical private buildings in Florence, guided
tours of the city’s museums and to places that are not usually open to the
public, seats in the stalls for the next Maggio Musicale Fiorentino festival,
straw hats hand-crafted by the companies of the “Il Cappello” consortium of
Florence, inspired by the greatest figures of Russian literature, sculptures by
the artist Simafra and a host more besides.
For details on donations/rewards, see: www.artigianatoepalazzo.it/raccolta-fondi/
The proceeds of the campaign will finance
urgent restoration and conservation works on:
HEMICYCLE OF THE EVANGELICAL
CEMETERY “AGLI ALLORI”
Opened on 26 February 1878 as a burial ground
for the mortal remains of the members of non-Catholic communities. Founded as a
Protestant cemetery according to a design by the architect Giuseppe Boccini -
who also designed the Russian Orthodox Church of Florence together with Michail
Preobrazenski - this is the cemetery for six Florentine Evangelical Churches,
although ever since its foundation it has welcomed the dead of all religions,
including many leading figures of the Russian community.
This monumental cemetery has given a resting
place to artists, painters and sculptors, writers and art collectors from all
over the world: Frederick Stibbert, Henry Percy Horne, Charles Loeser, Olga
Basilewskij, Arnold Böcklin, Lysine de Pilar Pilhau Rucellai, Roberto Longhi,
sir John Pope-Hennessy, sir Harold Acton, father Vladimir Levickij, Nina
Harkevič, Maria Olsufieva Michahelles, Thayaht, Anna Banti, Oriana Fallaci,
Adriana Pincherle. (Florence, via Senese 184).
Quote for total restoration and preservation works: €274,000
THE MASTERPIECES OF THE DEMIDOFF COLLECTION
EXHIBITED AT THE STIBBERT MUSEUM
Extraordinary objects such as the large
malachite table decorated with gilt bronze statues,the hard-stone fireplaces
and chandeliers purchased by Frederick Stibbert from the Demidoffs, the
exceedingly rich Russian princes, owners of malachite mines, who lived for many
years in Florence, where they purchased - among other properties - the
Pratolino estate from the Savoy family in 1872. (Florence, via Federico Stibbert, 26)
Quote for total restoration and preservation works: €4,300
COMPLETION OF THE RESTORATION WORKS ON THE CHURCH OF
THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST AND SAINT NICHOLAS THE THAUMATURGE
Built between 1899 and 1903 at the behest of
the Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna, daughter of Tsar Nicholas I.
The works particularly concern the icons of St. Andrew and St. John the Theologian, the fresco of the Annunciation in the narthex and the large iron entrance door, work of the Officine Michelucci foundry.
A unique monument in Europe, the Church of the
Nativity is a rare and precious example of artistic collaboration between some
of the best Russian and Italian artists and craftsmen. While the murals and
icons adorning the inside of the Church are by Russian artists, some of the
masonry structures, carvings and majolica decorations were created by the
The exquisite two-leaved door leading to the
upper church is finely carved in walnut, depicting stories from the Old
Testament, by one of the most famous woodcarvers of the mid-19th century, Rinaldo Barbetti. With regard to the
Church’s exterior, the multi-coloured majolica tiles of the Manifattura Cantagalli factory, with
their characteristic “fish scale” shape, adorn its domes and the high
stringcourses of its main façade. The iron crosses and the elaborate railings
enclosing the grounds of the building, adorned with imperial eagles and the
Florentine lily enshrining the Italo-Russian artistic partnership, is the work
of the Fonderie Michelucci of Pistoia.
The Russian Orthodox Church is
one of the greatest manifestations of the Russian presence in the Tuscan
regional capital and it is a historical
monument under the protection of the Special Superintendency for the Historical
and Artistic Heritage of the city of Florence which is responsible for
the High Level Surveillance and Artistic Direction of the conservative
restoration works of the architectural complex. (Florence, via Leone X, 8).
Quote for total restoration and preservation works: €30,000
RUSSIANS IN FLORENCE
Right from the outset of the nineteenth
century, the art, society and mild climate of Florence and Tuscany exerted a
great attraction on the Russian community, who chose this city and this area
not only as a popular destination for leisure trips, but also for long regular
stays, or even as a permanent place of residence.
The Demidoff family, splendid hosts of
Florentine society, first in the sumptuous villa of San Donato in Polverosa,
then in the Medici villa of Pratolino, and in the spacious rooms of Palazzo
Serristori, spent huge sums of money funding large projects for prestigious
Florentine monuments, such as the façade of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del
Fiore and that of the Basilica di Santa Croce. Florence rewarded their efforts
by naming after them the square overlooking the River Arno, where the splendid
monument of the Neoclassical sculptor Lorenzo Bartolini (1777-1850) stands.
This was commissioned by the Demidoff children in commemoration of their father
Prince Nikolai Demidoff, Tsar Alexander I’s ambassador to Florence.
Leading figures of the arts such as Fyodor Dostoevsky, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Leo
Tolstoy, - who, after having visited the city at an earlier date, appears
to have returned to Florence in 1891 to take part in a conference on the
possibility of melding the various Christian churches - stayed there during
their travels in Europe.
The same applies to a host of illustrious immigrées: writers Boris Zaytsev, Vasily Rozanov,
Aleksey Tolstoy, Mikhail Osorgin, painters Karl Bryullov and Ivan Aivazovsky,
the architect Vasily Stasov, the symbolist poet Aleksandr Blok and the art
historian, Pavel Muratov. While in more recent times, the poet Joseph Brodsky and the film director Andrei Tarkovsky have paid tribute to
the city through their works. A large community of anarchists such as Mikhail
Bakunin – cousin of Sofia Besobrasoff, wife of Angelo de Gubernatis – and
intellectuals in exile from all eras - such as the winner of the Nobel Peace
Price Andrei Sakharov who was made
an “Honorary Citizen” in 1989 - found in Florence a safe haven and a place to
In the field of poetry, Pyotr Vyazemsk of
Pushkin's pleiade composed a lyric poem entitled Florencija the incipit of
which is the introduction of Goethe’s Mignon's
Song: [Do you know the land. There the Arno flows] The poem calls Florence
the “fabulous city of Flora”.
Some people, like the Buturlin counts and the
Demidoff princes, stayed there for the rest of their lives; many married into
the most important families of the aristocracy: Borghese, Corsini, Pandolfini,
The catalogue of the 25th ARTIGIANATO E PALAZZO
Exhibition on this theme will be enriched by the original contributions of:
Lucia Tonini, University of Pisa
Mikhail Talalay, Russian Academy of Science, Moscow
Grazia Gobbi Sica, President of the
Association “Amici degli Allori”
Enrico Colle, Director of the Stibbert Museum
Anne Worontzoff, Lay Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church of Florence
Natalia Parenko, Director of the St. Petersburg Art Academy in Florence
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