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”, explainGiorgiana Corsini and Neri Torrigiani.
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.
The proceeds of the campaign will finance urgent restoration and conservation works on:
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
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
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 Italian workforce.
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
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 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 theHemicycle 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 St 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.
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.
c/c n. 50459100000004030 of ASSOCIAZIONE GIARDINO CORSINI
c/o Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze – Agenzia 8 / via il Prato, Firenze
IBAN: IT09 K030 6902 9921 0000 0004 030
Purpose of the payment: MEMORIES OF RUSSIA IN FLORENCE
It is possible to make a donation using a credit card via PayPal
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 Florence.
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…
The organisers have also suggested to the Il Cappello di Firenze Consortium – composed of the top enterprises of the Signa area which have been weaving straw and other typical materials since time immemorial – to produce a special collection of hats, drawing their inspiration from famous real and fictional figures of the Russian world.
One hundred unique numbered pieces will be on exclusive display at the Giardino Corsini and the donations collected will be channelled into the “MEMORIES OF RUSSIA IN FLORENCE” fund-raising campaign.
Some of the hats: from the 19th and 20th centuries…
Catherine II of Russia, known as “Catherine the Great”-George Balanchine (Georgiy Melitonovich Balanchivadze) – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Marc Chagall – Nicholas II of Russia and his wife Aleksandra – Fëdorovna Romanova – Sergei Diaghilev – Fyodor Dostoevsky – Wassily Kandinsky – Vaslav Nijinsky – Alexander Pushkin – Rasputin – Igor Stravinsky – Leo Tolstoy
Hat inspired on Aleksandra Fëdorovna Romanova
Mikhail Baryshnikov – Yuri Gagarin – Milla Jovovich – Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich – Rudolf Nureyev – Maria Sharapova – Natalia Vodianova
“Lolita” by Nabokov – “Anna Karenina” by Tolstoy – “The Queen of Spades” by Pushkin – “A Young Doctor’s Notebook” by Bulgakov – “Boris Godunov” and “Khovanshchina” by Mussorgsky – “The Queen of Spades” and “Eugene Onegin” and “Undina” by Tchaikovsky – Baba Yaga.
Hat inspired on “Anna Karenina” – Cappellificio Marzi
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 stay.
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, Pucci, Rucellai…
FLORENCE SEEN THROUGH THE EYES OF THE RUSSIANS
by Michail Talalaj, Russian Academy of Science
Pavel Muratov, author of the most beautiful Russian writings on Florence, suggested to his fellow Russians to visit Florence in the month of May.
His book Images of Italy, published a century ago, taught the Russians to love this city, so far away, in the long Soviet years during which it was impossible to visit. But finally, the regime collapsed and 30 years ago the author of these words found himself on the banks of the River Arno, in May. After a long, dark winter in St. Petersburg (at that time Leningrad, but it makes no difference), which is the penalty we have to pay for the ‘white nights’, seeing the “light-filled air” (Muratov) of Florence was an immense joy to behold.
In Florence, a Russian experiences many things for the first time.
The first Russian journey we have knowledge of was, indeed, to this city, for the Council of Florence of 1438-1439. And what a journey it was! Ecclesiastics in Eastern vestments, with an entourage of two hundred (!) people.
The reunification of the Churches proved to be ephemeral, but the signatures of the Russian high prelates are visible on the final bull kept in the Laurentian Library.
It was in the regional capital of Tuscany that the Russians came for the first time to actually live, and not just visit the city; in short, «all of Europe is only for looking, whereas Italy is for living» (Gogol’).
The first ‘Russian Florentines’ in 1818 were the counts Buturlin, who left their coat of arms for us to remember them by, in via dei Servi. They were followed by the Demidovs, who at that time were probably the richest family in Russia, after the Romanovs.
Soon the most exclusive Russian colony in Italy began to take shape.
In no other Italian city were Russian fiancées so fashionable among the local aristocracy! As a result, many Florentine families married into Russian ones.
Thanks to the Russian colony and its refined tastes, the first Russian church in Italy was built; in other cities there were chapels, but the first real church was built here.
Florence became a popular destination for painters, writers, musicians and people practising all kinds of artistic professions. For this reason, Florence has more commemorative plaques bearing Russian names than any other city: Tchaikovsky (his opera The Queen of Spades is considered a “Florentine” work), Dostoevsky, Tarkovsky.
The banks of the River Arno set the scene for the fortunate encounter between two great cultures and this is why the founders of the Russian Church forged the image of the eternal union between the lily and the double-headed eagle on its great doors.
RUSSIA AS SEEN BY THE FLORENTINES
by Lucia Tonini, University of Pisa
“Some English people have arrived but II don’t know if they’re German or Russian!”.
The attitude of the Florentines towards the numerous foreign citizens who came and went in their city tended to be welcoming, if somewhat restrained and wary.
The Russians, generally identified as “something else” due to their linguistic difficulties, remote provenance and the unfamiliarity of their customs, had become nonetheless – once “adopted” by the city – part of its everyday life, its history, its topography and its family trees. Already in 1439, with curiosity and wonder, Florence has watched the procession of the envoys of the Ecumenical Council.
In the 1500s, Cosimo I followed by the entire genealogy of the Medici family up to Ferdinand II and then Gian Gastone had, with shrewd business acumen, traded for the ermine, sable, lynx and otter furs that they loved to don for their portraits, coloured mosaics of semi-precious stones, silk and gold fabrics, items much sought-after at the court of the Tsar.
In the 17th century, the diplomatic missions that came from afar, such as those of Čemadanov e Lichačëv, who lodged at the Palazzo Pitti and the Palazzo Vecchio, still maintained, in the eyes of the Florentines, a certain exoticism and, like the age-old religious procession, aroused the curiosity of the population: “Dressing in the manner of their country, that is, in a semi-barbaric and rather strange way, they were always followed by a multitude of people who observed them, but to whom they paid no heed”.
A new frontier of artists and architects but also a large group of craftsmen, decorators, scenographers, engravers, goldsmiths, not to mention minstrels and music, also from Tuscany, the court of Peter the Great opened its doors to Europe through that ‘window’ described in 1739 by Count Francesco Algarotti of Pisa, while the Florentine Accademia del Disegno welcomed the first young artists sent here for training in 1718-19. Less than a century later, the self-portraits of some of them, such as Orest Kiprensky or Karl Bryullov, were to make their entrance into the Vasari Corridor of the Uffizi, to join the Olympus of European art.
During the period in which Italy had become a favourite destination of the Grand Tour, in Florence the doors of palaces, collections and workshops opened to the more emancipated representatives of the Petrine aristocracy as they travelled; the most important thing was to have a letter of introduction addressed to the Grand Duke, good letters of presentation and possibly substantial capital to invest in commissions to artists and craftsmen.
From travelling to settling – this is how it happened for the most Florentine of all the Russians: the Demidov family, who marked the transition towards a new relationship in the 19th century. Nikolai had yet again aroused amazement with his collections, lifestyle and endless commissions but he narrowed the distance by gathering the Florentine citizens around him with his lavish benevolence. Then along the same lines, Anatoly, despite the watchful eye of the Grand Duke’s police, dazzled the Florentines with his ostentatious taste for extravagance.
Precious objects, the magnificent colour of malachite combined with the gleam of gold, parties, horse races, the choice foods and sophisticated wines: the prince continued to fuel the show of luxury that possibly corresponded to the image that the Florentines had of the Russians. At the same time, in the course of the 19th century, Florence witnessed the growth of another phenomenon that took root and settled in the city, in a more everyday dimension, under the control of the diplomatic corps of the Tsar.
This is described in its infinite domestic and social intrigues by Mikhail Buturlin, son of that Dmitry who, at the start of the 19th century had found fertile ground in Florence to reconstruct his library – destroyed in the fire of Moscow in 1812 – in a quiet salon.
On the Florentine side, in the first quarter of the 19th century, a new drive in Europe to discover more about Russian culture, after the victory on Napoleon, prompted the journeys from Tuscany of Luigi Serristori, Giuseppe Pucci, Giovan Pietro Vieusseux, in search of new trade outlets. An attention that was extended and analysed in the pages of Vieusseux’s “Anthology” and in the famous Gabinetto Library. This is where the Russians, including Dostoevsky himself, would go to read books and newspapers with a freedom that they had never had in their own country. Then the Florentines began to go there too, in the second half of the century, to read the extraordinary Russian novels that told of a world that was not so far away after all. It was also Russia that had brought the ‘love novel’, in the real sense of the term, to Florentine life: It might have been Paolina Nencini, falling in love with Zachar Chitrovo, who started the Russian-Florentine dynasty of the Pandolfini.
The ladies of the Buturlin family followed suit, followed by Lydia Bobrinsky, the sisters Zinaida and Varvara Naryškin, married Pucci and Ridofi, Drutskoy-Sokolinsky family with Zucchelli, Maria Kušeleva became the Marchioness Incontri, Sofia Bezobrazova the faithful muse of De Gubernatis, Lysina Rucellai who had become, in the eyes of the Florentines, an icon of the mysterious and fascinating Russian dame, and many more, at all social levels, giving rise to surprising love stories now for the most part enshrined in the memory of the cemetry “agli Allori”, at the gates of Florence.
The domes of the Russian church, the first in Italy, greeted in 1903 in the pages of the Florentine newspaper “Nazione” with the words “warmest wishes for the prosperity of the Russian colony in Florence”, had created a unified image of that world in the eyes of the Florentines, identifying it with tradition, before the wave of the revolution brought here those who were fleeing and who found refuge in the lee of the church and in the inexhaustible generosity of Maria Demidov Abamelek-Lazarev.
A world was ending, leaving behind a fairy-tale image of itself, symbolised by the sumptuous kokošnik (headdress) worn by Assia Olsuf’ev at her wedding in the Basilica di Santo Spirito in 1928. From the same lineage, Florence was then to gain new knowledge of just how much more Russian-Soviet literature had to offer, through the translations of Maria Olsuf’eva.
In the meantime in the 1930s, the city was becoming acquainted with Russian music, scenography and ballet, with the founding of the “Maggio Musicale Fiorentino” festival, and it was totally enchanted. The conductor of the Stabile Orchestrale Fiorentina in 1932 was Stravinsky, while the baton and pen of Vittorio Gui revealed the L’anima slava nella musica moderna (the Slav soul of modern music) to the Florentines and to Italy as a whole.
In consideration of this long relationship between Russia and Florence, in the period following the Second World War, its Mayor felt a pressing need to reopen a direct and courteous dialogue with the Kremlin, narrowing the gap that had been created in the difficult intervening years.
This is the tradition celebrated by the ARTIGIANATO E PALAZZO Exhibition, in defence of its memory and in the hope of building new future occasions for cultural exchanges.