edited by James M. Bradburne
This publication was written to coincide with the exhibition Americans in Florence Sargent and the American Impressionists Florence Palazzo Strozzi 3 March–15 July 2012 Curated by Francesca Bardazzi Carlo Sisi
Promoted and organised by Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali Soprintendenza PSAE e per il Polo Museale della città di Firenze with Comune di Firenze Provincia di Firenze Camera di Commercio di Firenze Associazione Partners Palazzo Strozzi and Regione Toscana with the contribution of Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze with the support of Bank of America Merrill Lynch Terra Foundation for American Art Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Farrow Paulson Family Foundation Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane Aeroporto di Firenze Società Aeroporto Toscano Ataf Unicoop Firenze Firenze Parcheggi Fondazione Corriere della Sera
A PUBLICATION OF Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi CONCEPT AND CREATIVE DIRECTION James M. Bradburne ediTED BY James M. Bradburne TEXTS James M. Bradburne Ludovica Sebregondi TRANSLATION Stephen Tobin The conversation was recorded in Settignano (Florence) on 24 January 2012 PARTICIPANTS IN THE CONVERSATION Francesca Bardazzi Anna A. Bensted James M. Bradburne Margherita Ciacci Jonathan Nelson Lino Pertile Ludovica Sebregondi Carlo Sisi TRAnscription Maddalena Mancini Caterina Rocchi
EDITORIAL COORDINATION Ludovica Sebregondi GRAPHIC DESIGN AND LAYOUT RovaiWeber design
PHOTO CREDITS James O’Mara/O’Mara & Mc Bride (pp.)
© 2012 Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze Palazzo Strozzi Piazza Strozzi 50123 Firenze www.palazzostrozzi.org
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS We would like to express our gratitude to: Villa I Tatti – The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, Drusilla Gucci Caffarelli, Ginevra Marchi, Camilla Zalum, Luigi Zalum. Special thanks to Miel de Botton.
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form. The publisher is willing to settle any royalties that may be due for the publication of images from unascertained sources. Printed in Italy by Artigraf, Florence May 2012 ISBN 978-88-97869-03-0
SENTIMENTAL TRAVELLERS, CULTIVATED GARDENS James M. Bradburne
America and Florence have always been closely bound by history and affection. On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the death of the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci, who gave his name to two continents, the Palazzo Strozzi hosts a major exhibition that explores the American painters’ relationship with Italy. Focusing on the artistic personality of John Singer Sargent, and on the Florentine circle around the influential young Italo-American collector Egisto Fabbri in particular, the exhibition takes a close look at the influence Italy had on American painting in the decades spanning the second half of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. It also looks at the impact of the Americans—fresh, young and boisterous—on Tuscan culture and its evolution. Like the English before them, Americans had already been coming to Florence for centuries, and by the end of the 19th century, Americans considered Florence their own. There was a marked upswing in the number of American artists travelling to Europe after the Civil War ended in 1865, and the trend continued into the early 20th century. Hundreds of painters took up residence in Paris while still others studied in Germany and other European countries. No matter where else they studied, for most of them, Italy was a magnet. Florence, Venice and Rome had been at the heart of the Grand tour for centuries and had become legendary for all modern artists eager to study the art of the past. The American diarist Edith Wharton was one of these travellers to Italy, and wrote extensively about what the impact of the Italian garden, and what contributed to the magic the American visitor experienced in them.
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The traveller returning from Italy, with his eyes and imagination full of the ineffable Italian gardenmagic, knows vaguely that the enchantment exists; that he has been under its spell, and that it is more potent, more enduring, more intoxication to every sense than the most glowing effects of modern horticulture; but he may not have found the key to the mystery. Edith Wharton, Italian Villas, 1904
Seduction is at the heart of the mystery of the Renaissance garden.The Renaissance gardens of Pratolino, Castello and Petraia (to name only a few of the gardens that dot the hills around Florence) were designed with elaborate fountains, mechanical marvels, giochi d’acqua and grottos as pastoral settings for courtly seduction—Francesco de’ Medici celebrated his wedding to Bianca Cappello at Pratolino in 1589. But gardens are among the most fragile and least enduring art forms, however, and the ravages of time and fashion work swiftly to destroy them. Today, the renowned gardens of Pratolino, having first been turned into an ‘English garden’ at the end of the 18th century, have been virtually erased—only Giambologna’s brooding over-sized figure of the Appenines remains. So it was that the Americans who started arriving in Tuscany towards the end of the 19th century often discovered the gardens ruined, overgrown and unloved. But many Americans were seduced by—and presumably in—Italian gardens, and one by one they began to restore them. The gardens that form the backdrop of these conversations about the American artists in Tuscany at the end of the 19th and early party of the 20th centuries were all restored—at least in part—by the English and Americans who fell in love with them and were seduced by their “garden magic”:Villa Gamberaia by Princess Ghika and the American-born Mathilda Ledyard Cass, Baroness von Ketteler, Villa Medici by Lady Sybil Cutting,Villa i Tatti by Bernard Berenson and Villa Bagazzano by Egisto Fabbri himself. Any garden is a good place for a conversation, and a Tuscan garden is exceptional—its very essence supports intelligent conversation, which, like gardens themselves, are the bedrock of civility and culture. Welcome to the conversation!
villa di bagazzano
A walk in the garden
Conversation recorded at the Villa I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, in Settignano (Florence) on Tuesday 24 January 2012 Participants
was born in Florence and obtained a degree in the history of modern art from Florence University, specialising in Italian art between the wars. She has worked with the Soprintendenze ai Beni Artistici in Florence and Milan, with the Museo del Bargello, the Museo di Casa Buonarroti and the Historical Archives of the Fondazione Corriere della Sera. An expert in 20th century sculpture, she has written books and articles focusing, in particular, on Antonio Maraini. A Cézanne scholar, she has also curated a number of exhibitions including Cézanne, Fattori and the 20th century in Italy (Livorno 1997) and Cézanne in Florence.Two Collectors and the 1910 Exhibition of Impressionism (Palazzo Strozzi 2007). She lives and works in Milan.
JAMES M. BRADBURNE is an Anglo-Canadian architect, designer and museologist who has designed world expo pavilions, science parks and international art exhibitions. He was educated in Canada and in England, graduating in architecture with the Architectural Association and taking his doctorate in museology at University of Amsterdam. Over the past twenty years he has produced exhibitions and organised research projects and conferences for UNESCO, National governments, private foundations and museums in many parts of the world. He is currently the director general of the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, an organisation whose goal is to turn Palazzo Strozzi in Florence into a dynamic cultural centre.
is Villa I Tatti’s Manager for Community Engagement. After gaining a degree from Sussex University (GB), she worked for over twenty-five years as a journalist and producer of radio programmes for the BBC in Brighton and in Edinburgh before going on to work with WBUR, the National Public Radio in Boston. She and her husband Lino Pertile ran Eliot House, one of Harvard University’s halls of residence, from 2000 to 2010.
who holds a degree from Florence University, pursued specialist studies in the United States (Brandeis University, Boston) and became resident professor of sociology at Florence University’s Faculty of Economics. She co-curated an exhibition at the Uffizi entitled The Queens’ Gardens:The Myth of Florence in Pre-Raphaelite Art and American Culture in the 19th and 20th centuries in 2004. Her study of historical and literary figures in Anglo-American circles on that occasion was to spawn further research. She is currently Adjunct Professor at New York University in Florence.
Anna A. Bensted
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an art historian born and trained in New York, has been living and working in Florence for over twenty years. After obtaining his doctorate with a thesis on Filippino Lippi, he subsequently devoted a monographic study to the painter and co-curated the Botticelli and Filippino exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi. He also co-curated an exhibition at the Galleria dell’Accademia on the female figures of Michelangelo, and another on the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe. His most recent book, co-authored with an economist, analyses patronage of the arts in the Renaissance. He is currently Assistant Director for Academic Programmes at Villa I Tatti.
gained a degree in the humanities at Padua University and taught at the universities of Reading, Sussex and Edinburgh before going on to Harvard, where he has been Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures since 1995. He was appointed director of Villa I Tatti in 2010. His main areas of study are currently Dante, 16th century culture in the Veneto and the 20th century. He has published widely on Dante and the 14th century, on the 16th century in Italy and France (Bembo, Trifon Gabriele, Montaigne) and on the 20th century (Pavese in particular). He also co-edited The Cambridge History of Italian Literature with C. P. Brand.
was the director of the Galleria d’arte moderna di Palazzo Pitti in Florence until October 2006, organising its most recent layout and editing the latest edition of its general catalogue. He was also the director of the Galleria del Costume from 1999 to 2002. He has been president of the Museo Marino Marini in Florence since 1998, organising contemporary art exhibitions in the museum. His specialist interest is in 19th century Italian and European art, to which he has devoted several books and articles and on which he has organised numerous exhibitions, the most recent of which are 1861. I pittori del Risorgimento (Rome, Scuderie del Quirinale, 2010) and Il Simbolismo in Italia (Padua, Palazzo Zabarella).
an art historian, has focused her interest on confraternities and on the artistic history of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, publishing books and curating exhibitions on the topic. She has also studied the iconographic “careers” of numerous figures, including in particular that of Fra’ Girolamo Savonarola. She has taught and still teaches at Italian and foreign universities. She designed and produced the new Museo del Tesoro di San Lorenzo in Florence, and she is currently working on the MUDI project for the new Museo degli Innocenti. She is in charge of scholarly and editorial coordination for the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi and curates exhibitions on Renaissance themes.
BRADBURNE | The idea behind these conversations began eight exhibitions ago when someone remarked that while the curators are the unquestioned experts, they speak differently from the way they write. That’s fairly self-evident, of course, but it’s very important because an exhibition’s function is to explain, to popularise... to make a topic understandable to different audiences. We’ve seen the most famous curators in the world talking among themselves, and even when they speak with people who aren’t experts, because they need to explain things that are obvious to themselves, they do so in an open, interactive and accessible way. So that made us realise the importance of producing a series of books which we’ve called Conversations, and which are transcripts of conversations on a topic linked to the exhibition. Sometimes it’s a conversation with a private collector about a previously unpublished work of art, or it can be a discussion on the restoration of paintings by Bronzino—we did that recently, in 2010. The last conversation was on the Buonomini di San Martino. The conversation can be about several different issues, generally connected with the exhibition, but the conversation isn’t just a second catalogue; it’s a different way of addressing the topics explored in the show and the things that we can’t include in the catalogue. Today we thought we’d talk about the importance of gardens and villas for the young Americans who came to Florence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and of course we’re in the ideal place to do that. I Tatti, Berenson, Duveen, Pinsent— the fons et origo in some ways—are absolutely emblematic of the goal that this conversation has set itself, which is to talk about the importance of the hills and of the experience of the landscape and the gardens for the young Americans, for the artists of the time. That’s why we’ve brought you all to I Tatti. PERTILE | Perhaps we should be holding this conversation in the Limonaia. NELSON | We can always move! PERTILE | It’s such a beautiful morning, the light’s so clear, we could even hold it in the garden. It isn’t even cold! BRADBURNE | Yes, we recorded the conversation for Picasso last year in several places linked to the theme of the exhibition. SEBREGONDI | We thought of starting from this room because René Piot’s frescoes are here, and in fact they’re also reproduced in the exhibition catalogue. It could provide us with our initial cue, and then we could move from here, from the 17
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villa and its interior, to the garden. Bensted | That’s exactly how Berenson imagined it, the villa and the garden as a single unit. SEBREGONDI | That’s why we thought of structuring the conversation like that, because the villa and the garden are indeed a single unit.
BRADBURNE | And that’s all part of the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi’s philosophy: this idea of “visible listening”, of allowing other voices a say in addition to those of the experts; of getting other voices, other places and other people to speak, to bring new viewpoints to a discussion on experiencing the art that we’re showing in the exhibition. SEBREGONDI | Our conversations are always fairly laid-back in tone, which is a way of recreating the atmosphere, the mood that you the curators, Francesca and Carlo, have attempted to recreate in the exhibition. Far from being just another collection of paintings, these works of art tell the story of a world, the story of the elegant, cosmopolitan and fascinating world that was so important for Florence. BRADBURNE | The important thing is that it should be a conversation and, as I said, not just another catalogue; it must be different from the exhibition, even if the heart of the exhibition talks about many of the same things. Bensted | Lino always explains to our visitors that Berenson placed the dining room, with its French windows, in the centre of the villa so that he could always see out to the end of the garden while he dined. PERTILE | Yes, but perhaps the most extraordinary thing is that that garden and that villa are part of Berenson’s own self-fashioning, in other words they’re an extension of the image of himself that Berenson wanted to forge here at I Tatti. Creating a historical garden isn’t an easy task at the best of times, but Berenson’s truly exceptional achievement was to create it in his own image and likeness. In that sense it really is one of the most singular examples of the revival of Renaissance gardens in Italy. BRADBURNE | This rediscovery of—as Edith Wharton calls it in Italian Gardens and their Villas—‘Italian garden magic’. That’s why she used those words. CIACCI | In fact so much so that when Mary and Bernard Berenson got married, Roger Fry’s wedding gift to them was a birth salver which he’d painted with allegorical scenes showing a garden of delights. That’s the lovely image on which I ended my essay in the catalogue of the Of Queen’s Gardens exhibition at the Uffizi. PERTILE | Yes, yes, the tondo! Jonathan has it in his study.
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CIACCI | It was almost a foretaste of what this wonderful garden “created” from nothing was going to become. In the early 20th century the garden was “in progress” and to some extent they were still defining its character; it’s very beautiful, almost a love story in fact. I was also thinking of René Piot who did these frescoes, in connection with which everyone harboured reservations at the time.The frescoes evince strong links with the countryside. It looks like the Val d’Orcia, which was after all where Berenson’s great friend Iris Origo was to settle. Et in Arcadia Ego. PERTILE | Of course it wasn’t a work that Berenson either particularly loved or particularly loathed. BARDAZZI | Weren’t they whitewashed over at some point in their history? SISI | Yes, because Piot was clearly introducing an element into the vision of the Tuscan landscape that was extraneous to the culture of the time.They were more
interested in rediscovering Piero della Francesca and Benozzo Gozzoli than Alessio Baldovinetti, which is what we have here.And Berenson instinctively felt that behind this very naturalistic, sweeping countryside peopled with dynamic figures that were already typical of the plastic avant-garde movements, especially in France—from Picasso as a young man right up to Matisse and that slightly Expressionist taste—, well, he would have none of that because, being the leading Renaissance scholar, he saw it as opting for an unorthodox Renaissance, in other words a Renaissance that was already leaning towards the avant-garde. And Piot, who’d been close to André Gide—they’d forged dreams of nature and poetry together—probably felt greater affinity with a culture that wasn’t Berenson’s, because Berenson of course wanted a more orderly, more measured landscape, possibly more reminiscent of Cézanne... although his views on Cézanne were a little unconventional. But it’s amazing to
ren piot, scenes from virgil’s “georgics”, 1909-10, settignano (florence), villa i tatti - the harvard university center for italian renaissance studies, the berenson collection 20
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think that he unwittingly introduced a quote from a painting linked precisely to the European avant-garde movements. So in this case, the rediscovery of a landscape of this kind, with such plastic figures, speaks in favour of the international nature of the culture that the Americans brought to Florence. BRADBURNE | But these figures in the landscape also stand out in the paintings we have in the exhibition. It very much reflects Sargent’s work; it’s very American. BARDAZZI | Of course, it’s very American to have figures interacting with the landscape. There are paintings in the exhibition by American painters, especially ones painted in America, that reflect this fascination with the landscape, with figures immersed in the landscape. But getting back to gardens, I wanted to say that the gardens, like the villas around Florence, are the stage setting for the story we’re trying to tell in this exhibition. It’s a large story made up of lots of little stories: stories of life, love, study, art. Right now we’re in Berenson’s villa, and he was probably the crucial figure in the American circles of his day, but there are many other villas whose owners frequented both Berenson and each other. For instance, I can think of the Villa di Bagazzano where Egisto Fabbri lived, or Villa Castellani at Bellosguardo, the setting for both the love affair and the artistic collaboration of two painters, Elizabeth Boott and Frank Duveneck, whose works are well represented in the exhibition. And Egisto Fabbri’s Villa di Bagazzano was situated on the route they used to take from here to go to Villa Gamberaia, as I believe Berenson mentions. They must’ve walked past Bagazzano and thought “this villa is lived in by a closed, introspective person like Egisto Fabbri”. We met him in the previous exhibition, Cézanne in Florence, which focused on Egisto Fabbri and Charles Loeser, two great collectors of Cézanne’s work. Loeser lived in Villa Gattaia, which is on the Viale dei Colli close to Piazzale Michelangelo. BRADBURNE | But it makes you think, because when I think of these two youngsters... they were really young! Neither of them was over thirty! BARDAZZI | They were young indeed, I wanted to broach that very issue. BRADBURNE | They came to Florence, and this exhibition, unlike the previous one, isn’t about the historic centre, but the hills surrounding the city. BARDAZZI | When an American comes to Florence, he arrives with a set of
ernestine fabbri, to bagazzano, juin 1912, drusilla gucci caffarelli
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ideas which I wouldn’t call preconceived or prejudiced exactly, but ideas that he’s picked up both from the travellers who’ve been here before him and from his own reading. They came to Florence and they found a city—Henry James describes it as well—that was very different from anything else around at the time (after the end of the Civil War in 1865, when lots of Americans came to Europe to study); it was very different from Paris. Florence was a city that had hung onto its charm spectacularly well, a charm made of old stones and traces of the past, and it was out of the contemporary art circuit which centred on Paris at the time. So whilst these painters all went to Paris, they also came to Florence. We discovered that when they made the trip to Europe, they stopped off in London and in Paris, but then they came to Italy, and Florence was a destination they couldn’t miss. Now Henry James said that he appreciated Florence precisely for its sleepy air, a city where people went to bed at half past eight and there was no one in the street after that hour, but it was a city that had a very strong pull all the same. So the American traveller would arrive in Florence and stay in a hotel—Sargent’s The Hotel Room is the first painting in the exhibition—pending finding something more satisfactory, say, a villa just outside the city gates or in the hills; a villa he could rent because, among other reasons, renting was cheap in those days, and sometimes it even included domestic help at rock-bottom prices! Or else they’d buy them—for instance Egisto Fabbri bought the Villa di Bagazzano in the early 20th century—because the thing they loved best, especially the painters, was to paint the countryside around Florence, the landscape of the Florentine hills. We should mention that most of the pictures these painters produced and which we’ve rediscovered and included in the exhibition show the countryside, the landscape of the Tuscan hills even outside the immediate Florentine hinterland, moving out towards the villas of Lucca (Sargent and his watercolours of the villas spring to mind). So, living in a villa for them meant that they’d achieved their dream Florentine life. And of course, the world passed through these villas; there was major international traffic, so to speak, because there weren’t only the resident Americans, there were also their guests who’d come here for shorter spells. For instance, we could mention a vast number, including Gertrude Stein, Mabel Dodge or Edith Wharton; they all frequented these villas. Mary Cassatt
ernestine fabbri, angelus, 1916, drusilla gucci caffarelli
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came to Florence. So we have what I call this “Florentine dolce vita” that leaps out at us from the photos by Ernestine Fabbri, Egisto’s sister, that we discovered in a private collection. She was a far from amateur painter, because she had a substantial academic training too, but at one point she started taking photographs and the thing that she photographed was of course this “dolce vita”. BRADBURNE | But I remember you saying something interesting, Carlo. Fine, so the Americans come to Florence and for them it represented “sleeping history”, and indeed James complains about this tension a little, but it was also a time of renewal for Florence, “the ancient centre of the city restored from secular squalor to new life”, and only a few years had gone by since Florence had been the capital of Italy. So for Florentines that meant a renewal, a new renaissance, but for the Americans it meant nostalgia. SISI | And that’s an interesting tie which calls into play the relationship between the city and the countryside, just as we were saying about moving from a hotel to a villa, because—sticking with Henry James who’s a key player in this conversation of ours, a sharp observer at the journalistic level—taking to the country and living in a villa was also a way of showing displeasure at the redevelopment of Florence. And it’s very interesting because when James got here, he was sorely troubled; but so was even Browning, after his wife’s death. He used to say: “I shan’t return to Florence again because the noise of the new city is no longer the silence of the medieval town that I so enjoyed.” Henry James was shocked and scandalised by Piazza D’Azeglio, Piazza Indipendenza… Vernon Lee even went as far as to say that they were reducing Florence to the status of a second-rate Yankee city, so they saw progress after the unification of Italy as the destruction of the spirit of place, and thus of a world that they’d reconstructed in their ideals. The interesting thing is that in those very years—from 1867–70, 1867 to be precise, when they began to come here—the Tuscans too, especially the Macchiaioli who were the modern painters of the time, turned their backs on the city and went outside the walls, to Piagentina, and chose Villa Batelli, owned by Batelli the printer, where of course they lived very close to nature. So there’s this move towards the villa, towards the countryside as a way of seeking out a new spirit of place from which to observe the city more silently. There’s a very fine piece in James when he’s strolling through the
silvestro lega, villino batelli at piagentina, 1863, viareggio, istituto matteucci
countryside, probably in the hills below Fiesole, and from some distance away he sees a small chapel in a picturesque setting. He says: “Ah, look, a chapel of the kind that the people used to paint”. He says: “As I drew close I smelt something unpleasant”. Then he says “I smelt a smell of Pennsylvania”—in other words oil, the oil in the lamp before the Madonna. (laughter). “I imagine the loving care that the peasants lavish on the oil to light that lamp, while I find it repulsive because it reminds me of modernity”. Now that’s one of the interesting aspects of this exhibition, because it’s dotted with references to Italian painting just to make sure everyone understands the quality level we’re talking about. And in connection with the garden and the villa I wanted to add an extremely interesting aspect that links Berenson, the garden, the villa and other personalities. The garden is the setting for Renaissance otium, or leisure, and a crucial text like the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili was a kind of reference work on the Renaissance garden. The hortus conclusus, the fruit orchard, the aspect proper to the rational mediation of ordered nature as opposed to random nature,
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was a situation perfectly in keeping with Renaissance taste and it matched American studies from Roskov to Berenson himself, who created an extremely important, monumental reference work when he published Italian Painters of the Renaissance. And it’s amusing to think that the Capponcina was nearby. Berenson used to say that D’Annunzio had terrible taste, and yet it’s tempting to look at it as another element of interest, of contrast, where the garden, D’Annunzio’s porziuncola, represents a Panlike immersion in nature rather than the detached, conceptual vision harboured by an American and a Renaissance scholar. BRADBURNE | There’s an interesting dichotomy between the fact that these artists, these young Americans, were painting in a contemporary, impressionistic style, while the content through which they expressed their modernity consisted of landscapes, gardens; that’s a fascinating dichotomy because, even though they sought their inspiration in Renaissance and classical sources, they were still extraordinarily contemporary. SISI | Exactly! BARDAZZI | We address this in the exhibition too. They used to paint these landscapes, they were young, sparkling and full of enthusiasm when they got here, plus they had the training they’d received at home which was generally still an academic kind of education. But while they were in Paris they’d been exposed to the Impressionists, and especially those that came here in the late 19th or early 20th century, people like Chase and Hassam, painted the bridges of Florence—for instance, there’s Hassam’s Santa Trinita Bridge or William Merritt Chase’s views of Villa Silli, where he lived—in an Impressionist style, but always with meticulous attention to detail and fascination with light. The light here in Tuscany was very different from the light in America because, as both Henry James and Henry Adams tell us, Tuscan light was a light that lit up a far narrower, more confined landscape, a landscape that had been husbanded and had a far more delicate quality to it. The light in America, on the other hand, lit up their vast, sweeping landscape and it was a blinding light that exploded and corroded shapes, as Henry Adams used to say. So when they were here, they had to make an effort; they created original work because some of them had trained with the Impressionists while others trained in Munich, so they came to Italy with a far darker palette, far thicker brushstrokes, and
william merritt chase, l’orangerie, 1909, houston, private collection
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when they got to Florence from Munich their palette got lighter and their touch softer, and the landscapes they painted in Florence are truly original landscapes imbued both with the education they received in America and with their various experiences in Europe. CIACCI | Talking about these skies, we have one Chase painting Shinnecock on Long Island and then the other Chase we see when he comes to Italy. They’re two different Chases. If we look at the sky, the light, they’re totally different. BARDAZZI | An interesting thing in Chase’s villa is that his pupils gathered there too, the American students that he brought over to Europe with him, the summer classes that he’d already organised in Shinnecock, in the United States, and they were also held by other painters who took their students to the Atlantic seaboard in the summer. Chase performed this marketing operation with the assistance of Walter Pach, who acted as his trainee manager, and brought about forty students. First he took them on a tour of Italy.We’ve seen the brochures for these trips, they’re extremely meticulous in every detail: expenses, the down payment the students had to make before setting out, and then the entire programme for the trip. For instance: “We shall be taking the train from Naples to Rome”. First they toured the art cities and then they stopped in Florence for a couple of months, where Chase taught in his studio; and he also took them to paint outdoors, in the countryside. CIACCI | Some of the paintings in the exhibition that Chase painted at that time show this love of detail, this love of gardens, that was totally absent from American landscape painting... BARDAZZI | ... and from the Impressionists’ vision as well. There’s far greater detail and a far deeper study of light in these pictures. CIACCI | The vases of lemons! The vases of lemons that become monuments in themselves. SISI | In that sense I believe that, as you said, Margherita, there’s also this literary aspect. The people in these villas used to write as well, they wrote novels, essays and so on. CIACCI | The person who dominated this “literary” life in the villas was Henry James. Every page he wrote on Florence shows an appreciation for the nuances of
frank duveneck, villa castellani at bellosguardo, 1887, new york, brooklyn museum, healy purchase - fund b
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these villas, which was in fact their decadence. Villa Castellani, the moss. He never mentions Villa Castellani explicitly, but this villa in Portrait of a Lady, this moss, this decay he saw, spoke to him of another era and he found that fascinating. Like all Americans, he said: “I shall never be able to write at home; I always have to be confronted by ‘elsewhere’, and that will be my inspiration”. It was a geographicalcum-spatial displacement, a shift in place and time. In other words, he was always an exile. In Venice, for instance, he didn’t look at the traditional monuments but, in The Aspern Papers, he writes enthusiastically about the crumbling walls, the visions of decay. So on the one hand they were trying to escape from the industrialised world, from the oil lamps that reeked of Pennsylvania, but at the same time they were attracted by an Italy that had already ceased to exist. PERTILE | Yes, absolutely. I think there was this great adoration of the past to the detriment of the present. These villas were these American gentlemen’s attempt to debar the present from their lives. You can actually see that physically in the way the garden was designed. It didn’t spring up looking like it does today. Chatting with the peasants who used to work for Berenson, I discovered recently that, for instance, Berenson didn’t wish to see anything outside of his garden and he didn’t wish to be seen from the outside either; in other words the garden really was intended to be a kind of hortus conclusus, an alternative world. And that’s not all. In his spiritual testament, which is the founding document of our Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, Berenson explicitly talks about a privileged place, a retreat from the world, because even in the 1950s he saw progress as being the great enemy of concentration, of meditation, of love for art and for the past, and so forth. He even loathed the modicum of progress that hit this area after World War II. So Villa I Tatti really is an attempt to travel back in time, but also to create the right conditions for young scholars to be able to do so in the future too. Bensted | So that’s why Berenson wrote about Altamura with Mary, taking his inspiration precisely from these places. And Isabella Stuart Gardner said in a famous letter that she wanted to do the same thing in America. BRADBURNE | A word that often crops up is “sentimental”, the “sentimental traveller”, which has to do with nostalgia but it isn’t the same thing, it’s quite different, it declines differently. And there’s this idea of sentimentality that rejects but that also accepts. It’s very interesting. 32
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SISI | Yes, because the word “sentimental” brings into play people’s perception, in other words their ability to interpret rather than merely to see. And that’s a very important concept because it was responsible for the pivotal change of course in culture between the 19th and 20th centuries. After all, they were born into an objective and positivist culture, a culture on which Berenson’s own inventories are based. In actual fact, interpretation had to be sentimental, and that’s the dividing line between the 19th and 20th centuries, with a shift from the object to the subject… CIACCI | Interpretation: that was just when Freud was starting to talk about interpreting dreams! SISI | …in other words, to subjective interpretation, which is the fertile soil of symbolism and of the complex culture which took hold, especially from the 1870s or 1880s on, and in which the Americans were absolutely the leading players. One has but to think of James to realise that every object is a metaphor, and thus in The Aspern Papers the affair of Madame Bordereau is a metaphor of the novel itself. It’s a fairly complex concept and with the ability and the idea of interpreting, in other words the landscape as a state of mind, and this was a crucial text for the spirituality of the landscape and of art. CIACCI | She may not have been an American, but in some ways Vernon Lee was a player in this turning point in interpretation. And in fact she was very close to Sargent.They’d been in Florence at the same time when they were children, and she understood perhaps better than other visitors this link with a past, but with a past that she refused to abandon to the fate of Florence’s redevelopment. SISI | And sure enough, she personally joined in the controversial debate over the destruction of the historic centre; she used to write to the press and rant at
ernestine fabbri, il palmerino ‒ miss violet paget “vernon lee”, 1901‒2, drusilla gucci caffarelli
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the mayor of Florence not to wreck the city the way he was doing. As the Director put it, there was this will not to sacrifice the spirit of place, this determination to defend the place. Of course it’s impressive, because basically it was their dream, and a dream that shattered was like losing the path pointing the way to the future. PERTILE | The interesting thing about the Americans who were in love with Italy is that in some ways they suffered from the same syndrome that Italian emigrants were to suffer from later on—it’s very bizarre—when they were absent from Italy for fifty years, then when they came back they wanted to find it looking exactly as it had looked when they left, in fact if anything they wanted it to look even “older” than it was when they’d left, because they wanted to keep the myth of the past alive. Perhaps it’s a childhood myth, almost a deep-seated object of desire somewhere in the subconscious. So the great Italophiles of the past, with all of their cultural awareness, share with our illiterate emigrants this unfulfilled wish, which in some ways is reflected precisely in the world of Italy’s past. Is that true? SISI | I’m happy you said that because I wind up my essay precisely by mentioning the emigrants, because it’s almost the same journey in reverse. The touching thing is that I’ve rediscovered a crucial text for this sentiment, it’s Giovanni Pascoli’s Italy, where he actually... PERTILE | I don’t believe it! That’s the very poem I was thinking of just now! SISI | It’s a touching piece, because the young Italians’ return to their native land, to the area around Lucca, to Barga, superimposes the American vocabulary on the Italian, because Pascoli says: “Everything’s changing”. And the wife, too, sees something incongruous in the poverty of their home—they never got rich— compared to the progress in America, but it’s obvious that the roots of those who are there, they still want them inside. So Pascoli says: “What’s the element that can act as a link? The permanent beauty of the language”. So he plays with superimposing the sound of certain distorted American words on the sound of Italian and creates a
kind of linguistic mix that’s precisely this unity of thought. I’m happy you found this PERTILE | Yes, I thought of Pascoli the moment you started talking. The match works well because I think the poem dates back to the early 20th century... SISI | Yes, it does, exactly. It’s perfect, and these crossed journeys are extraordinary. BARDAZZI | In any event, that’s exactly the path the exhibition follows, from America to Europe, then they return home from the Old World. The first to reach Europe were the well-to-do, so their families brought them over at a very young age to go on a tour of Europe, but the others had to find a sponsor to come to Italy and to be able to study in Europe, a sponsor who funded their trip and who wanted results. But above all he wanted the painter at the end of his training to make his contribution with everything he’d learnt in Europe—he wanted him to come back home. So that’s the career path that most of the American painters followed, apart from a few whom Henry James was to call “the exiles”, the “lifetime exiles”, and he includes himself in that group. They were Sargent, Whistler and Cassatt, the bestknown and also the best-represented in the exhibition. CIACCI | Elihu Vedder too, to some extent. SISI | Elihu Vedder, yes, well done! BARDAZZI | Yes, Elihu Vedder was a pioneer, one of the first. NELSON | And Berenson himself in some ways. BARDAZZI | Berenson, of course! BRADBURNE | But this dual impact that the exhibition describes isn’t just the impact that the Tuscan landscape had on the Americans, it’s also the impact that the Americans had on the Tuscan landscape— at least the artistic and social landscape. BARDAZZI | Yes, of course. Indeed, getting back to this business about the American who loves, who’s mesmerised by Italy and by Europe yet who still maintains this bond with his native land, there’s a wonderful letter that Elizabeth
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Boott wrote to Henry James in 1874, when they used to keep each other’s company in Rome and in Florence, and she’s answering a letter from James and she says to him: “Don’t send me any more letters with these descriptions of Tuscany that are so sentimental, so charming, because they are my undoing, because Tuscany—in other words Florence, where she lived in Villa Castellani—has become my second home. Don’t sent me those letters any more with those words, those phrases, because I can’t take it”. Painters like Elizabeth Boott Duveneck and her husband Frank Duveneck then went back home, held exhibitions, displayed their work, and tried to sell their pictures to forge a career for themselves there too, once they came back. CIACCI | Elizabeth Boott Duveneck died very young and her husband Frank Duveneck went back to America, and he never returned to Italy again. BARDAZZI | Perhaps… no, but when they built the tomb at the Allori Cemetery…
a very beautiful set of photos of the tombs in the Allori Cemetery, which we might almost call the gardens of death, don’t you agree? There are two important gardens: the so-called island “of the English”, or English Cemetery, and the insula of the dead at the Allori—a topic addressed by another of those who lived in these Tuscan villas here in Fiesole, Arnold Böcklin, whose Island of the Dead is probably a celebration of the English Cemetery—and so that’s another really interesting aspect, because after all, the Americans are still travelling on their sentimental journey in their graves at the Allori and we were keen to point this out. NELSON | Another example I can think of, slightly later but it sinks its roots in the period we’re talking about, is Leo Stein, Gertrude’s brother, who used to come up here to I Tatti when he was a young man. After he was disappointed by
frank duveneck and the fonderia galli, funerary monument of elizabeth boott duveneck, 1891‒2, florence, cimitero degli allori 38
He only came back sporadically.
SISI | Talking about tombs, it’s interesting because the catalogue also contains
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Paris, which had become too modern, he decided not to return to the United States and so he stayed on in Settignano to rediscover the past. In fact he lived here, at I Tatti, and he was one of the few to appreciate these frescoes by Piot, because their plasticity was very similar to Renoir’s, and he collected Renoir’s work precisely here in Settignano. BARDAZZI | Of course. Leo Stein is important because he was in touch with both Fabbri and Loeser. In fact, Stein bought his first Cézannes from Vollard (described in the previous exhibition on Cézanne a Firenze held at Palazzo Strozzi in 2007) following precisely Loeser’s and Fabbri’s advice. NELSON | And then Berenson also indicated… BARDAZZI | Yes, although Berenson with Cézanne wasn’t very… SISI | He informed him of them saying: “Go and see”, but then… CIACCI | Because Berenson feared the contamination that his taking an interest in Cézanne, writing about him and talking about him, might have on the Renaissance studies that he was pursuing at the time. BRADBURNE | The other synergy we can talk about is between the different arts, because literature is obvious, but I think possibly also Fabbri’s music, Gregorian plain chant, and also the sentimental impulse to recover the past. It was a cultural life based on the parlour, the drawing room, where they talked about politics and renewal but also about their experience as artists. SISI | Yes, they most certainly did, because music… CIACCI | And Loeser’s wife, the pianist Olga Lebert Kauffman, had set up the Lehner quartet. BARDAZZI | Yes, Lehner, at Villa Gattaia. But in all of these houses, including at Bagazzano or in the Fabbri’s house on Via Cavour, music was a very important part of their lives. For instance, Fabbri was friends with Giulietta Gordigiani Mendelssohn. There are photographs of Ernestine Fabbri that show her in the loggia at Bagazzano, which was a place for sitting and chatting, for whiling away the hours. And there are photos of the Fabbri sisters sitting with their guests in very informal poses on the loggia steps, chatting and passing the time of day.
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CIACCI | While we’re on the subject of music, I just wanted to mention Spalding, a very young musician who lived in Florence for a long time and went on to have a spectacular career in America. Unfortunately it’s very difficult to find any evidence of his performances here, but Loeser in particular very much appreciated his work. SISI | Alinari has a very fine photograph of him as a young man, sitting beneath a cast of a Renaissance sculpture, of course! CIACCI | He lived on the Lungarno. SISI | Yes, in Villa Spalding on the Lungarno. SEBREGONDI | In any event, this elegant and very sophisticated world carried on for quite a long time. I should imagine that you (speaking to Margherita Ciacci) have records of it; that you must have heard of this world of Anglo-Americans living in Florence? You were telling me this cultural climate lasted in Florence for a long time. CIACCI | I would say that those who stayed on the scene longest, right up to the last decade of the 20th century, were the Actons, with their cosmopolitan hospitality, which may have had less to do with the world of contemporary art; they were collectors, but of works from other periods. But they did receive contemporary American artists, for instance Julius Rolshoven (one of the Duveneck boys) and then Chase himself, both of whom Arthur Acton had met when he was at the Arts Students League in New York. And all of these people then came to Italy and the Actons received them at Villa La Pietra after it had been restored with his wife Hortense Mitchell’s money. There’s a portrait of Hortense by Rolshoven and a drawing by Montgomery Flagstaff, but it isn’t widely known that he specialised in posters; he came from New York too, and he went to visit the Actons. SISI | The sense of continuity, yes. Actually, this interdisciplinary aspect involving literature, music and art, developed into a Renaissance theme. The model was Lorenzo the Magnificent. Lorenzo was the most important reference figure. One’s also reminded of the way the search for this sentimental element that is the spirit of place also revived the spiritualistic aspects, the aspects of evocation, the séances that were held in particular in another of the Americans’ favourite areas, across the valley from us here, in what they called Serpentine Road, in other words the new
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road leading to the Viale dei Colli.That’s the other place where Hiram Powers and a fair number of people, especially American writers, established their studies, initially in the area around Via Romana and Via dei Serragli, then they all went up into the new area where they began to plant American seeds and species. Because they all brought trees over from America and created an area that was deliberately set apart, where they held séances and also staged tableaux vivants, because they loved that kind of thing, especially Hiram Powers’ wife. CIACCI | And Thomas Ball lived there too. He was another important figure in the decoration of monuments in Washington, the Capitol in Washington. SISI | He was part of Powers’ circle. CIACCI | American sculptor William Story was involved as well. He was in Palazzo Barberini in Rome, but his daughter married a Peruzzi de’ Medici in Florence and so he had the opportunity to come here. In fact he even died in Vallombrosa, in the vicinity of what was to become Berenson’s property, the Casa al Dono. PERTILE | Berenson’s good friends from America also included what we might call a “musical” couple, Gordon e Elizabeth Morrill. CIACCI | You have their library, don’t you? PERTILE | Yes, he was a painter in his spare time. We have several of his works that never left the place. She was a singer, on the other hand, an opera singer. And they absolutely adored I Tatti, indeed so much so that they left Berenson the villa they’d had built between Costa San Giorgio and the Boboli Gardens. It’s still owned by I Tatti. BARDAZZI | I’ve been there! Apart from anything else, the view’s superb.
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PERTILE | There’s
a little tower on top... I think it must be fairly unique in
Florence. SEBREGONDI | I always wondered what that tower was that you can see from
the Arno... PERTILE | Yes, that was the Morrills’ home. It came to I Tatti on Elizabeth Morrill’s death, in 2002, I think it was. Recently, anyway. SEBREGONDI | What’s there now? PERTILE | Nothing. We use it for our guests, we’ve just restored it. The interior was a bit dilapidated. There’s a front garden with four terraces that stretch as far as Costa San Giorgio, while the back gives onto the Boboli Gardens. I think it’s one of the most... CIACCI | …absolutely unique places! BARDAZZI | The view’s certainly unique… PERTILE | … yes, because from every window in the house, including those in the two big bathrooms, you can see, in fact you can almost touch, Brunelleschi’s dome on one side and the tower of Palazzo Vecchio on the other. PERTILE | And our music library owes everything to the Morrills. It’s the Morrill fund that allows us to buy books and to hold our early music concerts. And it’s going to allow us to continue doing so in the future too. This American couple who spent a large part of the year in Florence—he a painter, she a singer—was fairly typical. They were so close to the Berensons that they left them their Italian properties, and all in the name of art. NELSON | If you haven’t already mentioned it, the link between Morrill and Berenson (which is actually relevant to our theme today) is that Morrill’s family wanted him to go into finance but he wanted to become a painter. It was Berenson who persuaded him to follow his instinct. His gratitude to Berenson was what lay behind their friendship and then prompted this legacy. PERTILE | Gordon Morrill also collected Chinese ceramics. There was a huge sale, an epic sale, that generated the fund which now allows us to do what we’re doing, both with books and with live music, concerts... BRADBURNE | May I suggest that we move into the garden?
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(In the garden, close to the fountain and the statue of Berenson) It looks like the sky in Chase’s pictures! even Mr. Berenson’s here! (pointing at the statue) BRADBURNE | The garden was created by Cecil Ross Pinsent, if I remember rightly. This is part of the history of the restoration of these gardens. The Americans discovered the gardens and they invested in their restoration. BARDAZZI | It does rather feel as though we’re sitting inside Sargent’s At Torre Galli, because the perspective is identical. There are women dressed in white in the foreground, creating a set piece for the stage, and then there’s the neoRenaissance perspective in the background. It’s the same at Bagazzano, you can see the Renaissance chapel from the loggia. That was the exclusive centre of the Americans’ life in Florence, where they spent hours chatting, whiling away the hours, reading...There are lots of photos showing the Fabbri sisters on chaises-longues chatting with each other or reading in these gardens. NELSON | Berenson, too, considered it essential that he go for a walk in his garden every day. He would choose a person after lunch—it was a great honour if Bernard chose you—to go walking with in the garden, so it wasn’t just a place of beauty, it was also a place for conversing, for musing. CIACCI | While we’re on the subject of gardens, basically one might say that many of these Americans came here and discovered that a taste for the romantic English garden had already been introduced into Florentine gardens—apart from the classical gardens whose structure was modelled by elements in stone, by the presence of water, by box hedges and holm oaks. They were shocked to see this kind of “unbridled nature” and so they set about restoring the planned garden, interpreting what they thought was the classic Renaissance garden, and ended with a kind of superimposition: for instance Edith Wharton in her book on gardens says that it’s really difficult to get the Italians to understand that these romantic English gardens weren’t the kind of gardens they should be creating. BARDAZZI |
NELSON | And
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BRADBURNE | It’s obvious to point out that unlike a painting, a statue, stones or architecture, a garden is very fragile, it can disappear completely in the space of five to ten years if no one looks after it. And fashions in gardens are devastating too. It’s true that we can put an olive leaf on a David and take it off again, but Pratolino’s been destroyed. Redesigning a garden in a new style, like the English 19th century style, is tantamount to murdering the thing. I don’t know the story in sufficient detail of how the Americans reconstituted these gardens that have now come down to us, two or three generations later, that look like Renaissance gardens. But they’re not really Renaissance gardens at all, they were dreamt up as Renaissance gardens in the early 20th century. SISI | They’re formal gardens at any rate, evergreen gardens, gardens with plants that are easy to keep going. They deliberately chose not to plant deciduous trees in their gardens so that they’d always have the serene look of perpetual nature. Just look where we are now. The evergreen design is perfectly stable and anything deciduous has been relegated very much to the sidelines. PERTILE | Now we’re going to see the most substantial part of our neoRenaissance garden. I wanted to point out something which I think is exceptionally interesting and which I also find quite moving when looking at it at the beginning of the third millennium. This garden, which is the result of Berenson’s love for the Italian Renaissance, has remained intact—in fact, I’d say it’s even more beautiful today than it must’ve been in Berenson’s day—but thanks to what? To our American benefactors’ love for it. In other words, what James was saying just now is absolutely true: these gardens need constant, in fact daily, maintenance because they decay, they go wild, they disappear in a very short time, in the sense that they lose their shape, but you can only keep them going if you have the money to do so... and we do, thanks to the generosity of our American benefactors. That’s remarkable, and it’s a point that I was eager to make.
edith wharton, italian villas and their gardens, london, bodley head, 1904
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the Renaissance base. Unlike the English, the Americans, who didn’t have such a history, came here to rediscover in a nostalgic and sentimental manner, something that existed only in their collective memory, but it wasn’t part of a continuum of perpetual change. And this “inconsistency” is what allowed the Americans to intervene in a way that I believe the Italians never could have, because for the Italians it was part of their own on-going, ever-changing process... SISI | In other words, as far as they were concerned it might just as well die… BRADBURNE | Exactly, because the English garden was very beautiful and contemporary, while the Italian garden was “old”. So let’s make it new and contemporary. But when the Americans came here, they did something else. PERTILE | Let’s go for a stroll, down to the central part of the garden that we still need to see...You can’t afford to miss it on a morning like this! (Everyone moves down to the lower part of the garden)
BARDAZZI | The Americans who came here probably also interacted with nature very differently from the Italians, the Florentines; they had a different approach to nature. They felt it and loved it much more. So for them, having a beautiful, neat garden in which to live serenely and at ease... SISI | … sentimental… BARDAZZI | Sentimental, yes. It was an important aspect. That’s why they take care of their gardens so much more than the Italians do. BRADBURNE | Talking about this “American-ness”, there’s also an inconsistency. Look at Pratolino. Pratolino was the jewel of Renaissance gardens when it was created in the 16th century. It was cited as being “the” Renaissance garden for travellers to visit, travellers such as Moryson and Montaigne. But throughout history, every generation has always invented its own idea of contemporary. English garden fashion was contemporary in the 19th century and the English style destroyed
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BRADBURNE | One thing I’d like to dwell on is the importance of this discontinuity. It’s too perfect. It’s how Disney could create his Main Street America, because that America never really existed,. It was an ideal vision. And Pinsent’s Renaissance garden is almost too perfect too. It’s a kind of post-modernism. CIACCI | It’s true, it does seem post-modern in its smooth, formal perfection. NELSON | That’s the Americans’ crucial role, obviously from an English viewpoint.Yes, the garden is Pinsent’s, but he worked on it with Mary Berenson and also, indirectly, with Edith Wharton. It’s no coincidence that Pinsent—who didn’t create this kind of garden in England, who didn’t produce this kind of architecture in England—was working for two American patrons, he produced a garden in the style they were studying, The Renaissance. I believe that this is the first example of an Italian garden created from scratch. In other words, it isn’t a restoration of the
Boboli gardens. There was virtually nothing here before. CIACCI | There were fields, it was “elsewhere”. NELSON | A crucial example for the study of neo-Renaissance gardens, for Americans studying the Renaissance, was Edith Wharton’s book. So I think it’s right to mention not only Pinsent but also the jobs that Pinsent helped to work on. Sadly we don’t know what Pinsent did for another American Renaissance scholar, Charles Loeser. A year before doing this garden, he worked at Villa Gattaia. I presume he had a similar project there, too, but we just don’t know. CIACCI | Did Pinsent work at Villa La Pietra or don’t we know? NELSON | I don’t think so. BARDAZZI | I don’t think so either. BRADBURNE | But that’s where the big difference lies. I’d like to make a comparison with Villa Medici, with Gamberaia, with existing villas. There are the gardens of villas that already had a structure, to restore them you have to recreate them, but this one was created from scratch, it’s incredible. CIACCI | Could that be the case with Strong’s Villa Le Balze too? NELSON | It is by Pinsent, but it’s later. CIACCI | It was created from scratch too, but later on. NELSON | Yes, it’s easy, because this one was the first. BARDAZZI | In any event, this business about the garden also points us in the direction of a broader discussion about the mentality, the attitude of the Americans who came to Europe, and especially to Italy. Because they came to Italy to study antiquities, and their approach to antiquity, to history, which is an approach— just as you were saying about gardens just now—in which they’re not afraid of contaminating, of imitating and of recreating new things. Of redoing something new...You just have to think of when they built their cottages in the countryside or on the Atlantic seaboard; they’re all white but they have neo-Renaissance columns. They’d bring large terracotta oil jars over from Impruneta and put them in their gardens over there too. So they really did adopt a very free approach. They weren’t afraid. They came over here to learn things, but then they adopted them as their own and put them back into circulation in a totally new way. BRADBURNE | Just think of the House of the Redeemer in New York. BARDAZZI | Exactly. Egisto Fabbri put his own work into that… 55
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It reminds me of Palazzo Strozzi! This talk of continuity reminds me that Temple Leader lived just nearby, in Vincigliata, and that there’s a landscape that he designed in its entirety. There were no cypress trees there before, there are some Alinari photos that show the hill completely bare. And of course there was Stibbert, too, which reminds me that the fashion before this was neo-Gothic, so the English garden was perfect for that kind of reconstruction, and in his case it was on genuinely old foundations, a ruined castle that was reconstructed to look just the way Sir Walter Scott would’ve described it. So it’s interesting how in the space of only a few years there’s a move away from the popularity of neo-Gothic—which came to a peak in Florence in the way the Bargello was redecorated to look just like the Victoria and Albert: foreigners saw Gothic as having a specific place in Florence—and shortly afterwards, with the energy unleashed by the unification of Italy, a taste for the Renaissance took hold, also thanks to the studies we were talking about, and it was no coincidence that all BRADBURNE | SISI |
the cabinet makers in exhibitions after 1861 started producing furniture in a neoRenaissance style. CIACCI | Frullini. SISI | Yes, Frullini. Every building in Florence, even the Renaissance ones, changed their interior decoration and became neo-Renaissance. BRADBURNE | I may sound a little naive, but as I see it, there’s a link between this rediscovery of the Renaissance and the Pre-Raphaelite movement. SISI | Of course! The rediscovery of Gothic reflected a legacy from the Romantic era until about 1850. So it was above all a time of popularity for the historical novel, after Manzoni.And of course everything was good for the unification of Italy, because the rediscovery of the great Middle Ages, in other words when great popular movements like the Sicilian Vespers, for instance, which overcame foreign invaders, became an ideological model too. Once that problem had been solved, there was a move towards something more certain, and it just so happened that the royal government chose the Renaissance style, thus the style of the sovereign, of the overlord, of political peace. BRADBURNE | In other words, it was a political and a cultural expression. SISI | Of course. And what happened then? This strong fascination based above all on the study of Botticelli came over from England. CIACCI | Ruskin. SISI | Ruskin, yes. But Ruskin was born into a culture that was already neo-Gothic because that was what he saw, both in Venice and in Florence. But then aestheticism, the subjective conquest of beauty, was grafted onto that model. The dandy, or in any case the person who created beauty, Beata Beatrix, the standard for feminine beauty after 1860, was identified precisely with this grafting of Botticelli onto an underlying and highly refined base of sentimental languor. Here we have a pure Renaissance, an abstract Renaissance along intellectual lines, a Renaissance redolent of Marsilio Ficino; whereas they come along and they import an impure Renaissance, where the subject matter imbues the Renaissance with the most turbulent and sentimental aspects. BRADBURNE | And Florence was practically the only place in Italy in which that could happen… Because Rome is classical,Venice is Gothic; only in Florence,
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joseph pennell, leaving montepulciano, 1882, joseph and elizabeth robins pennell, an italian pilgrimage, london, seeley, 1887 58
in this landscape, could that Renaissance find its setting. SISI | Yes, it’s here and nowhere else. CIACCI | I would add, talking about the Pre-Raphaelites, that Holman Hunt was a guest of William Blundell Spence at Villa Medici. Spence was an extraordinary figure who wrote Lions of Florence, a very pleasant read indeed. Holman Hunt wasn’t Ruskin, but there was a constant trading of ideas, of aesthetic influence, of colours and light between them. And so I think that this story hadn’t yet reached the point of fin-de-siècle aestheticism but it was preparing to do so. NELSON | I’m reminded of a friend—later an enemy—of Berenson’s, Herbert Horne, who wrote a book on Botticelli; he dedicated his book to Walter Pater, but obviously there’s a huge difference between Pater and Horne. Horne, with Berenson, discovered the pure Renaissance.They’d travel around the Florentine and Tuscan countryside together on bicycles ... 59
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SISI | Ah yes, the bicycle! That’s important, because at the start of the exhibition we’ve put an illustration for a guidebook for Americans and you can see their bikes. BRADBURNE | You can see them on bikes and on horse-drawn carts, and then Edith Wharton in a car. She’s self-consciously modern. BARDAZZI | I wanted to say something else. One of these sentimental travellers going around the place and painting was an American painter called Beckwith, who was very close to Chase: they met while travelling, while crossing the Atlantic. And Beckwith painted a very fine portrait of Chase which we have in the exhibition. Beckwith came to Florence in 1910 and produced a number of small oil paintings on wood with views of the local gardens. But they weren’t landscape paintings as such, I think they were more like the pages of an illustrated diary. And there’s the famous Villa Palmieri, which he painted several times—it’s the setting for the Decameron—he painted these two or three small panel paintings that show how he’d painted a number of Roman villas and gardens, and the gardens of Versailles, and how he was really interested in gardens. And how he studied and painted them in these pages, which were then supposed to be put into a kind of diary, a book, like Parrish, although he was illustrating Edith Wharton’s book. BRADBURNE | In a very odd manner, too. CIACCI | They were at odds with one another, in a way it felt as though they were from two different worlds. There was something almost decadent about Parrish… SISI | Parrish was also a photographer, an objective photographer of gardens. BRADBURNE | But for me, at least, his illustrations aren’t redolent of the Renaissance so much as of the Pre-Raphaelites, of the Gothic. CIACCI | One last thing. The wilderness, I’m talking about the American wilderness! I’m talking about them coming to Tuscany, to this kind of antithesis of the concept of wilderness, to this husbanded land which attracted them so and which was the very opposite of a wilderness. Thoreau, Emerson, to some extent they all nurtured their original culture and so there was probably a filter of attention for the natural world that came from their New England culture. NELSON | Sure enough, Berenson used to go for walks not only in the garden—which was designed mostly by Mary, together with Pinsent—but also in 60
the woods. Bernard loved the contrast between the structure, the symmetry and the order of the Renaissance, and this wilderness. BARDAZZI | Up at Bagazzano too, there’s a fairy-tale wood right by the garden.You just have to walk through a small gate and you’re in the woods. SISI | That’s a very important aspect, because it comes from a famous book on Mannerism by Eugenio Battisti called The Anti-Renaissance. Battisti argues that the presence of a formal Renaissance garden in the Italian style, with a wood next to it is a metaphor for the contrast between reason and sentiment. Anyone wishing to experience a state of mind could be surrounded by the geometric serenity of the garden and then confuse his thoughts in the maze of the wood. BARDAZZI | Staying with Tuscany for a moment, for his country home Egisto Fabbri had found an isolated village in the wilds of the Casentino mountains called Serravalle, near Camaldoli, where he rediscovered this Franciscan spirituality, and probably also this wilderness, because the mountains in the area are covered in forests; they’re uninhabited and pretty wild. SISI | They’re sublime, sublime. BARDAZZI | Yes, getting back to what we saying about the contrast, the amazement that these American painters felt when they saw the Tuscan countryside and the hills, because they were coming from their own landscape which was totally wild. As we were saying earlier, it was described by Thoreau, by Emerson, and even by James. For instance, in his novels he describes the sun setting in the west in New England, which he says is one of the wonders of the world. But there’s no such thing here, no such sun setting in the west. Because for them, for Emerson and Thoreau, the west was the future, compared to the east which was where Europe lay, the Old World with its history and its past; but it did not have these wide open spaces, these grandiose perspectives pointing to the future. And you find that future in the women’s white dresses too. SISI | That’s just what I was hoping you’d say! Because earlier you were talking about the loggia in Torre Galli with the women dressed in white. BARDAZZI | Yes, these American painters very often painted their wives and their wealthy female patrons, often wearing white dresses. Whistler had dressed them in white too, but he had different motives for doing so: his white had a different connotation, far more aesthetic and far more symbolic. Whereas Benson’s 61
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frank weston benson, summer, 1909, providence, museum of art, rhode island school of design, bequest of isaac c. bates
women on American beaches, gazing out at the sea stretching out to the horizon and beyond, are dressed in white and they represent this hope for the future, in fact the future of the American nation itself at the time. We’re talking about the turn of the century. So women wore white, like blank, white pages that had yet to be written. Like the women in the garden at Torre Galli, or the many other women in the exhibition who end up imparting a feeling of whiteness to the whole room. BRADBURNE | Their arrival here had a huge impact on Italy and on Florence;
I’m thinking of these young, emancipated women from a distant land. I can’t believe that the Italian boys didn’t notice them. BARDAZZI | They were gossamer-slim, almost transparent. SISI | They were certainly a lot freer. BRADBURNE | Poor Italian boys! SISI | It’s very clear from Henry James’ novels that the locals used to stare at these women and that they were frightened by their eccentricity. The leading lady in Forster’s Room With a View is an uninhibited girl who wanders off into the alleys of this warren-like city, she witnesses a murder and she’s shocked, but she’s not frightened because she’s a girl who knows what modern life is all about. CIACCI | I would say that James attempts to build the model of the new girl. Not the new woman but the new girl. In all of his novels. And Sargent responds by painting not only his portraits, which are as celebrated as they’re celebratory, but also the portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Phelps Stokes. BRADBURNE | This brings us back to the contemporary nature of what we experience. We may be here now, in this historic garden, but our discussion is contemporary. And so were they. I’m always attracted by the idea of experiencing the contemporary. Not just modernity, with a capital “M”, but the freshness of these young people living in this environment. Everything speaks to us of the contemporary. SISI | Yes, they are contemporary. BARDAZZI | At any rate, these American women who, as you say, were a little frightening, were a very different kettle of fish from European women, if you think of Mary Cassatt, Cecilia Beaux, Gertrude Stein, Ernestine Fabbri, in other words the women who came to Florence, to Europe. They were far more emancipated. And especially if you think of the sea voyage, the crossing, when they left their homeland thousands of miles behind them to come to Europe, well, it was a woman’s thing. They’d come with their sister, or with their girlfriend who was a painter or a writer. They were intellectuals, some of them were simply curious travellers, but they weren’t accompanied by their fathers, their husbands or their fiancés; they came over here to start a career as a painter or as a writer, building up experience in Europe. They pursued their studies; they were professionals.
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SISI | Tell
them about the Academy. There were differences with the Italian
academies. BARDAZZI | Well, for instance, the first school that took women students was William Morris Hunt’s classes in Boston. He started running them in 1868 and 1869, and Elizabeth Boott enrolled almost as soon as they opened. But in Paris and in Italy the academies only opened their doors to women, in life classes with nude models, much later. In Florence it was in the 1880s and 1890s, after Giovanni Fattori intervened. And that’s very telling. In Paris, too, American women were rather astonished that they weren’t allowed to enrol at the École des Beaux-Arts but they had to frequent the private ateliers of painters such as Julian or others… SISI | Because there were life classes with nude models, so they weren’t allowed into the Accademia. BARDAZZI | The École des Beaux-Arts opened its doors to women much later, in the 1890s. BRADBURNE | This paints a very pleasing picture of the sentimental traveller leaving his cultural baggage at home. BARDAZZI | Yes, they were open, and they were very brave too. I mean, think of it, these women came to Italy but Italy didn’t have a reputation for being a very safe place. According to the tales they heard at home, it was a dangerous environment, you could always have nasty encounters in Italy, you caught malaria in Rome, and some painters even died. Hotchkiss, for instance, caught malaria. And sure enough, they left Rome in the summer and moved to the Tuscan countryside. It was far healthier than staying in Rome. NELSON | We’re talking about clothes, but then there was Mary Berenson who went bathing with Gertrude Stein near here, and she complained that Gertrude was “dressed only in her fat!” Of course, Gertrude wasn’t a typical woman of any era or any country! But in any event, these American women were brave. BARDAZZI | They were enterprising! CIACCI | Gertrude Stein went around dressed in corduroy velvet and Franciscan sandals, shocking Mabel Dodge when she stayed with her at Villa Curonia, another villa with quite a history in the early 20th century … SISI | That’s interesting, and we mentioned the spirituality, the mysticism
that people experienced on the hills below Fiesole. Fiesole is the place—and sure enough, we have Vedder’s picture with monks—where the presence of a Franciscan air wafting down from these hills, which was to be hallowed in D’Annunzio’s Sera Fiesolana, is precisely the idea of nature inviting man to pray. To experience a mystic intimacy. And indeed the great “spiritualist resident” of these hills was to be Maurice Denis, who brought the full spirituality of the Nabis here. For instance, you only have to look at his Fiesole Annunciations, with Florence seen from Fiesole in the background, and all of the spiritual states of mind that Fiesole could conjure up.This is important because just near here D’Annunzio, too, inclined towards this spiritual interpretation of nature and of the garden. BARDAZZI | It all tallies, because Egisto Fabbri returned to Florence after living a wild and woolly, uninhibited life in Paris, in a bohémien loft with the model who was to become his partner, and he experienced a religious conversion, abandoning the Protestant religion in which his American mother had brought him up and returning to the Catholicism of his forebears. And that then led him to the Serravalle venture, where he even built a church. BRADBURNE | He sold all his collections too, didn’t he? BARDAZZI | Yes, to pay for this church, which he rebuilt from the foundations in Romanesque style. Or rather, he copied the Romanesque style of the original church which had burnt down. Then he set up a school of Gregorian plain chant, which cost him a small fortune … BRADBURNE | Does it still exist? BARDAZZI | Yes it does, because it was continued by an order of nuns, the Mantellate sisters. A branch was even opened in Florence. To put it bluntly, his fortune had considerably… CIACCI | … dwindled! SISI | And you were saying that an American teacher… BARDAZZI |Yes, it was Justine Ward, who was the greatest expert on Gregorian plainchant in the United States. He had her come over and she taught plainchant to the people of Serravalle, the peasants, the villagers. And when the church was rebuilt, they sang in the church, in choir in front of the cardinal, the bishop—they even performed for the Pope later. But by then even Fabbri’s huge fortune, which
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It was a fashion. Conversion became an aesthetic affair, it had a ritual
air to it. BARDAZZI | And Egisto Fabbri’s great friend Mabel La Farge, who wrote a book on him with memories of him, and then there are the letters she collected, well, she converted to Catholicism at more or less the same time as Fabbri. The Americans were very self-assured. They were more advanced than the Europeans in technological and scientific terms as well. But Mabel La Farge, for instance, felt that there was something missing in her culture, even though it was the culture of a Bostonian lady of the highest rank. So in coming to Italy, and in being receptive to Catholicism and then converting to it, she was also taking on board a part of the country’s culture. Mabel was the daughter of Edward Hooper, who was a treasurer at Harvard. CIACCI | She was Henry Adams’ niece, wasn’t she? BARDAZZI | Her father had a sister who was married to Henry Adams and she was very close to him. She even wrote a piece on him. Here father was one of the first people to collect the work of Homer and La Farge; he was extremely close to La Farge. Mabel married one of La Farge’s sons. NELSON | We’ve been talking primarily about paintings, but I’d like to urge you to look at this kind of picture: these mosaics that Pinsent created, taking his inspiration from Renaissance mosaics made with shells, and in fact they’ve just been restored. SISI | Extraordinary.You can see them really clearly.
(Sound of bells tolling) his father and uncle had built up, had been badly depleted. And by the late 1920s, after the Serravalle venture, he had to sell off the most important of the thirty-three Cézannes that he’d bought from Vollard in Paris very early on, in the late 1890s. NELSON |: Berenson converted to Catholicism too when he went to Monte Oliveto and was struck by the beauty of the place.
Bensted | There are sounds that are typical of the Italian countryside.There’s
a hunt on today, a boar hunt. SISI | The hunt. The sky. And we have the soundtrack too! The bells. The dog barking… BRADBURNE | A perfect sentimental ending! Many thanks to all of you.
Gardens in Time
Villa di Bagazzano Ludovica Sebregondi
The villa, isolated on top of the hill of Bagazzano near Settignano, dominates the Arno valley and the sharp bend at Girone, which is clearly visible from here. Originally built as a feudal lord’s home on a tower belonging to the Alberti family that had been destroyed by the Ghibellines in 1260 after the Battle of Montaperti, it was owned in succession by the Borgherini, the Gualtierotti and Alessandro di Chiarissimo de’ Medici—from a minor branch of the family—a captain of Borgo San Sepolcro who died in 1571. The villa, whose present aspect most probably dates back to the 16th century, was sold to the Mannucci in 1753 and to collector and artist Egisto Fabbri jr. in the early 20th century, subsequently passing into the Caffarelli and Gucci families by inheritance. Painter Maurice Denis, who visited the villa in 1907 before restoration was complete, writes: “I went there on a foggy day, but even so the view of the Arno valley with its wintry woods is splendid. Fabbri’s sister, Countess Ludolf, receives guests and serves at table”. In Bagazzano, Egisto—one of the first and greatest collectors of Cézanne’s work—had found the hermitage of Franciscan simplicity (Francis was his favourite saint) at one with nature that he so craved. The loggia opening to the south, which acts as a passage between the inside and the outside of the villa, is still decorated today with the murals of vases of flowers that Egisto personally restored in October 1915. The previous June he had turned his attention to the stone mosaic by the staircase linking the loggia to the garden, set beside a fountain surrounded by dripstones, grey pietra serena stone and a Medici coat of arms in stucco. In the distance one can make out the chapel—originally a civic building in a style reminiscent of Vasari, which Fabbri turned into a place of worship—surrounded by holm oaks and cypresses. The garden is bounded by a wall, beyond which lies a wood in which one can still detect the remains of ancient Etruscan and subsequently Roman road. On a lower terrace there are pergolas with wisteria, hedges and a pool. ernestine fabbri, egisto fabbri restoring the murals in the loggia at bagazzano, 1915, drusilla gucci caffarelli 73
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ernestine fabbri, bagazzano, june 1915, drusilla gucci caffarelli 74
ernestine fabbri, a lift to bagazzano, 1914, drusilla gucci caffarelli
As Francesca Bardazzi tells us, “the poetic and rather wild solitude of the Villa di Bagazzano was much sought-after by connoisseurs, who had to overcome the somewhat self-effacing owner’s reticence if they wished to visit it.To reach the villa, guests were carried on an ox-drawn sledge up an impervious path, and at the end of the uphill ride they could finally enjoy what Cora [Fabbri, Egisto’s sister] felt was the gift she loved best: the sweetness of a ‘Tuscan day’ capable of ‘causing an English heart to beat’. In Bagazzano, just like in the other villas inhabited by the Americans, photographs and paintings alike capture the idle hours spent chatting in the loggia, reading in the garden, playing with the children or simply going for a stroll. Fabbri’s villa was halfway along the route linking I Tatti, Bernard Berenson’s villa, with Villa Gamberaia, the realm of Princess Jeane Ghyka, and its fabulous garden”.
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Villa Gamberaia Ludovica Sebregondi
The name may refer to a “gamberaia”, or freshwater shrimp tank, but it could equally well be due to the fact that the Gamberelli family owned the villa in the 16th century. An inscription informs us that the present building was erected by Zanobi Lapi in 1610. On his death it went to a nephew, who enlarged the garden, and then to the Capponi family(from 1717 to 1854). It passed through several hands before being bought in 1896 by Catherine Jeanne Keshko, a Rumanian and the sister of Queen Natalie of Serbia, who was married to Prince Eugen Ghyka-Comăneşti. A renowned beauty of her day, she lived at Gamberaia where she often hosted the American artist Florence Blood. After restoring the building, the princess decided to renew the 18th century garden and she hired as her head gardener one Martino Porcinai (father of future architect Pietro Porcinai, who was born and spent the first few years of his life here). One of the features she had installed was a parterre comprising pools of water. Jeanne Ghyka, who had studied sculpture in Versailles, frequented the cultivated cosmopolitan nobility that lived on the hills around Florence. Running into financial difficulties in 1924, she had to sell the property to an American called Mathilda Cass Ledyard, Baroness Von Ketteler by marriage. During World War II the villa was requisitioned by the Germans and an officer, on retreating, ordered that it be burnt, also damaging the garden.The property was then donated to the Holy See and purchased in 1954 by industrialist Marcello Marchi, who left it to his daughter Franca and her husband Luigi Zalum. It is now open to the public once again after a thorough and very meticulous restored.
ernestine fabbri, courtyard of gamberaia, 1900, drusilla gucci caffarelli 81
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Writing in 1904, Edith Wharton says that this garden “combines in an astonishingly small space, yet without the least sense of overcrowding, almost every typical excellence of the old Italian garden: free circulation of sunlight and air about the house; abundance of water; easy access to dense shade; sheltered walks with different points of view; variety of effect produced by the skilful use of different levels; and, finally, breadth and simplicity of composition... But the real value of the Italian garden-plan is that logic and beauty meet in it.” According to Cecil Pinsent, “after having walked in that garden, relatively small in size, one goes away with the impression of having spent more time there and having discovered more than was in reality the case.”
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The garden today features a bowling green some 225 metres long open to the south where it overlooks the Arno valley and bordered to the north by a nymphaeum surrounded by cypress trees; a lawn leads to a rocaille cabinet or elliptical “gabinetto rustico” whose walls are decorated with a variety of shells, niches and terracotta statues. Two flights of stairs lead on one side to the limonaia with its central pool, and on the other to one of the two “wildernesses” or uncultivated areas planted with tall evergreen trees. Beside the villa sits the parterre with hedges, rose bushes and pools of water.
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Berenson describes Princess Ghyka as â€œa narcissistic Rumanian lady who lived mysteriously, in love with herself perhaps and certainly with her growing creation, the garden of Gamberaia.â€?
ernestine fabbri, principessa jeanne ghyka, gamberaia, c. 1902, drusilla gucci caffarelli
Villa I Tatti - The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies Ludovica Sebregondi
Set on the hill of Vincigliata between Poggio Gherardo and Poggio al Vento,Villa I Tatti is closely linked to the personality of Bernard Berenson, an art historian who came to Florence in 1888 to purchase works of art for Isabella Stewart Gardner’s collection and rented the villa in 1900. Its name comes from the Zati family, who owned it in the 16th century. In the late 19th century it belonged to John Temple Leader, from whom Berenson bought it in a pitiful state in 1907. He was able to undertake a huge and very costly programme of restoration in 1909 thanks also to his growing reputation as an art critic. In fact he had begun to receive a regular stipend from the great American art dealer Joseph Duveen, who ran the prestigious Duveen Brothers showroom in New York which handled most of the Italian works of art now on display in America’s leading museums. Bernard Berenson and his wife Mary commissioned English landscape gardner Cecil Ross Pinsent (1884–1963) and architectural historian Geoffrey Scott to transform the simple house and to create an Italian garden in the late Mannerist style.The garden, designed as an outside projection of the house, is one of the first to have been deliberately built to recreate the formal harmony of the past from which Pinsent drew his inspiration. The garden between the villa and the large “stanzone”—as the limonaia greenhouses where citrus plants spent the winter were called—was completed between 1909 and 1910, then the architects turned their attention to the parterre which drops down towards the valley in a series of four terraced tiers. Low box hedges alternate with taller evergreen bushes, while the polychrome cobbled paths are a feature inspired by the Renaissance.The hanging garden in front of the library, which dates back to 1915, uses such local building materials as grey pietra serena and honeycoloured pietra forte, anchoring Pinsent’s architecture to the Tuscan tradition. The vittorio jacquier, hanging garden, 1910‒1, berenson library, villa i tatti - the harvard university center for italian renaissance studies 89
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niches in different materials and the large masks spouting water, based on originals in Caprarola and Tivoli, are typical features of Pinsentâ€™s gardens. I Tatti became one of the most important focal points of the Anglo-Saxon community in Florence and of the cityâ€™s cultural circles as a whole. When Berenson died in 1938, he left the villa and his collections to Harvard University, which has installed its Center for Italian Renaissance Studies there.
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Harold Acton wrote of the garden at I Tatti, that it is “Anglo-Florentine: the scale as well as the dainty precision of the details is more English than Florentine.” Pinsent says: “the garden must look complete in its structure both in summer and in winter, and seasonal plants must not be crucial to its design. Flowers in season will serve to add significantly to its beauty, but the areas left empty during the winter should not make the plan look incomplete. That is why evergreen plants occupy such an important place in the Italian garden. The purpose of flowers is to impart depth and colour to the design; flowering plants whose luxuriant and disorderly growth might disturb the architectural line should be avoided, although they would be appropriate in a flower garden. Giving excessively large areas over to flowers is also to be discouraged because their absence in winter might create gaps that would be too visible.”
vittorio jacquier, parterre, 1910‒1, berenson library, villa i tatti - the harvard university center for italian renaissance studies 92
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Edith Wharton, Italian Villas and their Gardens, London, Bodley Head, 1904.
Revisiting the Gamberaia: an anthology of essays on Villa Gamberaia, edited by Janet Ross, with pref. and notes by Patricia J. Osmond, Firenze, Centro Di, 2004.
Cecil Pinsent, Giardini moderni all’italiana, «Il giardino fiorito», I, 1931, 5, pp. 69-73. Cecil Pinsent and his gardens in Tuscany, papers from the symposium (Georgetown University,Villa Le Balze, Fiesole, 22 June 1995) ed. by Marcello Fantoni, Heidi Flores, Firenze, Edifir Edizioni, 1996. Maria Chiara Pozzana, Una guida per conoscere Villa Gamberaia, Firenze, Polistampa, 1998. Ines Romitti, Mariella Zoppi, Guida ai giardini di Fiesole / Gardens of Fiesole, Firenze, Alinea, 2000. Sandra Carlini, Elena Marazzi, Lara Mercanti, Giovanni Straffi, Le grotte: luoghi di delizie tra natura e artificio a Firenze e nel suo territorio, Firenze, Alinea Editrice, 2002.
Cézanne in Florence,Two Collectors and the 1910 Exhibition of Impressionism, catalogue of the exhibition (Florence, Palazzo Strozzi 2 March–29 July 2007) curated by Francesca Bardazzi, Milan, Electa 2007. Francesca Romana Liserre, Giardini anglo-fiorentini: il Rinascimento all’inglese di Cecil Pinsent, Firenze, Pontecorboli, 2008. Katie Campbell, Paradise of Exiles.The Anglo-American Gardens of Florence, London, Lincoln, 2009. Americans in Florence: Sargent and the American Impressionists, catalogue of the exhibition (Florence, Palazzo Strozzi 3 March–15 July 2012) curated by Francesca Bardazzi e Carlo Sisi,Venice, Marsilio 2012.
Alta Macadam, Americans in Florence. A complete guide to the city and the places associated with americans past and present, Firenze, Apt-Giunti, 2003. I giardini delle regine. Il mito di Firenze nell’ambiente preraffaellita e nella cultura americana fra Ottocento e Novecento, catalogue of the exhibition (Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, 6 April–31 August 2004), curated by Margherita Ciacci, Grazia Gobbi Sica, Livorno 2004.