Welcome to our blog!

It's better than a bat in the eye with a burnt stick!

This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

And make sure to visit The Arnold Bennett Society for expert information and comment on all aspects of the life and work of AB.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Florentine palaces

Wednesday, May 4th., Pension White, Florence.

I sat an hour in the sun sketching on Monday morning. Yesterday morning: the Gothic Palazzo (? Davanzato) which Professor Volpi the owner has fitted up as a museum. The most complete 'show' house I ever saw. The professor even has the generosity to leave incunables lying about. What amused us - I met Mr. Mock therein by accident - was the holes in the floor of the drawing-room through which enormous stone balls could be dropped on the heads of hostile visitors in the hall below. There is something exquisitely cheerful about this device.

Palazzo Davanzati was erected in the second half of the 14th century by the Davizzi family, who were wealthy members of the wool guild. In 1516 it was sold to the Bartolini and, later that century, to the Davanzati family, also rich merchants (1578), who held it until 1838. After the suicide of Carlo Davanzati, it was split into different quarters and modified. After escaping the numerous demolitions of 19th century Florence, it was bought by Elia Volpi, an antiquarian, who restored It in (his impression of) the original style. 
In 1910, Volpi opened the building as a private museum (Museo Privato della Casa Fiorentina Antica). The contents of this museum kept changing as Volpi sold the furniture at auctions, including a major one in 1916 in New York. In the 1920s, Egyptian antique dealers Vitale and Leopoldo Bengujat acquired the building and its contents. In 1951 it was purchased by the Italian state and kept open as a museum. By 1995 the museum needed to be closed for major restoration to keep the building from falling down. The museum was partially reopened in 2005 with the ground and first floors; by 2012 all the floors were open to visitors.

Por called in the afternoon, and stayed an hour though I was ill. He said that all progressive periodicals in the U.S.A. had suffered a set-back, & were either paying their authors half-rates, or had been bought up by reactionaries, or something else had happened to them.

This morning, fired by a letter from Martin: Palazzo Riccardi. Yes, the Gozzoli frescoes quite came up to my expectations; but it would be quite impossible to enjoy them under the actual conditions: a man flicking a portable electric light around all the time, and the Wild West accent in the back of my neck. The other show-parts of the Palazzo are not worth more than the half lire charged. But of course I was unwell.

The Palazzo Medici, also called the Palazzo Medici Riccardi after the later family that acquired and expanded it, is a Renaissance palace located in Florence, Italy. The palace was designed by Michelozzo di Bartolomeo for Cosimo de' Medici, head of the Medici banking family, and was built between 1444 and 1484.

Additionally for May 4th., see 'The General Strike'

Today was the first day of the general strike.
Many more motors about. I walked round to Victoria, which was shut up (both stations) one small entrance guarded by policemen. I heard someone say that a train had gone somewhere during the morning.
Yet in the vast empty stations Smith's book stalls were open. So were (outside) the cafes.
The populace excited and cheery, on this first day of the strike.
No evening paper. News from the Wireless at very short intervals, half hour intervals at night up to midnight.
I should think that all theatres would soon be closed.
Already today there has been a noticeable increase in gravity in the general demeanour.

No comments:

Post a Comment