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Museo Stefano Bardini Florence Italy

Excerpt from Borsheim Art Newsletter:

by Kelly Borsheim copyright 5 May 2010 [reprinted here 14 January 2021]


  1. New Work
  2. Exhibit in Italy: Villa Bardini, Florence
  3. ARC Award: 2 Drawings Made Finalist List
  4. Museo Stefano Bardini
  5. Subscription Info.

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 Stone planter - three portraits Museo Bardini - Florence, Italy

Stone planter - three portraits

Museo Bardini - Florence, Italy


Dear Art Lover,
      Well, this transition took me a while. How are you? I have now been back in Italy for over a month and am working to create new art for another solo exhibit here in Florence in June. I enclose here a small thumbnail image of the pastel painting Fiesole Still Life, inspired by one of my friend's home in the hills above Florence. Click on the title to see more.

Fiesole Still Life Warm Hearth pastel painting art

Exhibit in Italy: Villa Bardini, Florence

      I am quite happy that I left my charcoal drawing of Portrait of Niccolò da Uzzano (After Donatello) here in Florence, Italy, in the home of a friend. Now he will be exhibited in the Villa Bardini, home of the Museum for Pietro Annigoni , which I wrote about in the March 2009 art news:  [to be reprinted on this site in the future].


      The exhibit "Annigoni's Legacy: Artworks of the Angel Academy of Art" runs 13-30 May [2010], with a private reception on the 12th.


ARC Award: 2 Drawings Made Finalist List

      It feels so weird to be tootin' my own horn, but how else will you know? Your encouragement and interest is what helps me keep moving forward in my art career and I want to share this with you, with my thanks.


      The Art Renewal Center (ARC) is an organization that promotes representational art. Each year they hold a worldwide competition called the Salon. This year, two of my original compositions (Hindsight and Enough) were selected as finalists in the Drawing Category. 


Museo Stefano Bardini - Florence, Italy

      Florence, Italy, recently celebrated its "Notte Bianca" (White Night). This is a night in which all of the famous central part of the city comes out to play, even more than usual. Street performers are out, wine and music are flowing, and there was a wonderfully dynamic video installation projected over (and using) the architecture of the Uffizi Gallery's Corridor.


      One of the other perks is that some of the museums stayed open late and were free to enter. So, I want to share with you some of the jewels inside the Museo Stefano Bardini.


      Stefano Bardini was an avid art collector and is said to have had a natural ability to successfully display together works from different time periods. The first thing that one must notice is that the walls are a soft blue, very unlike the typically warm Tuscan yellows. But the blues perfectly enhance the creamy colors in the stone sculptures.


       Perhaps I should admit one of my weaknesses: I rarely remember the names of the artists or the titles of the works. I realize that is perhaps unhealthy for a professional artist. However, especially in a museum, I find myself overwhelmed with what I AM looking for, that the labels often seem unimportant. Even as a child I was interested in the idea more than the source, unless that source was essential to that idea.


     So, if you want to know more about the artwork that I am showing you, please visit the Museo Stefano Bardini. They also have more clear images on their site than the ones that I have shot here.

Entering the blue walled Bardini Museum in Florence Italy

ancient stone carved vase bas-relief sculpture Bardini Museum in Florence Italy

ancient stone carved vase including donkeys bas-relief sculpture Bardini Museum in Florence Italy

     I just love the two animals in the upper right corner of the image on the right. My favorite are the ears!

 museum quality old statue and pulpit in art collection of the blue walled Bardini Museum in Florence, Italy

beautiful stone bas-relief sculpture detail of pulpit vase Bardini Museum in Florence Italy

     I first became interested in bas-relief sculpture after spending two days working with it in a sculpture workshop with Eugene Daub many years ago. I learned then its potential and have since stopped calling it "Puffy Painting." However, it has been Italy where I began to appreciate the full range of what one can do in relief. Sculptors know that we must carve for the light and we only can assume, for the most part, that that light will come from above.

     Look at the detail shot of the pulpit - can you see how the artist maximized the use of undercuts to create the shadows necessary to distinguish the form. If you really look at this stone carving in relief, you will notice just how many different tones are there, based soley on the way the stone was carved or how deep or angled an undercut (narrow and angled creating a darker shadow). Brilliant! And lovely.

Ceramic antique sculpture portrait of a woman with sad eyes Bardini Museum Florence Italy

Architectural gargoyles for staircase in Bardini Museum Florence Italy

Stone portrait of a man perhaps Michelangelo nose broken off Bardini Museum Florence Italy

     Oh, the expressiveness. Oh, the creativity. Oh, the technique. Without electricity, these forms were cut from stone. Do you know how difficult this really is?

fantasy creatures mixed woman and bird animal Bardini Museum Florence Italy stone vase

old stone carvings on architectural designs in Bardini Museum Florence Italy 
     Such magnificient and imaginative creatures. These carvings seem a bit crudely created to me and yet, they have their own charm.

Bardini Museum Florence Italy blue walls and architectural delights carvings

bas relief stone carvings of human figures Bardini Museum Florence Italy
     Really, I was so enchanted not only by the blue, but the way in which busy carvings were put together with a harmony of line and simplicity.  Maybe from the Della Robbia studio, famous for the blue backgrounds on white ceramic bas-relief sculptures.
These stairs remind me of Michelangelo's Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, also here in Firenze.

carved and painted wood ceiling Bardini Museum Florence Italy
      The ceilings are spectacular! What is amazing is that some of the
designs and executions may not appear complicated, but put together
over a large area, and ... wow, what an effect!

sculpted ceiling and blue walls contrast with traditional Tuscan yellow Bardini Museum Florence Italy

painted wood ceiling design of alternating crosses and octagons Bardini Museum Florence Italy

beautifully painted wood ceiling Bardini Museum Florence Italy

beautiful and art-filled stairway Bardini Museum Florence Italy

well-displayed drawing by Tiepolo in sanguine Bardini Museum Florence Italy
"The drawings in Bardini's collection were mainly ascribed to Giovan Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770) and his son Lorenzo (1736-1776)."
(I photographed the sign . . . )

     "These bronze statuettes are ascribed to Severo da Ravenna's workshop. They are really expressive and represent sea monsters, pagan gods, winged dragons, lamps, acrobats and little naked angels, licentious satyrs, candle holders and other profane subjects."
[sic, on the grammar]

strange and marvelous mixed human and animal forms in functional bronze sculpture

     "There is another lamp representing a licentious subject, so as to instigate laughter when it was lit. These kinds of objects were requested above all by humanists, often fond of studying nature. That's why the bases were frequently cast on real animal legs, such as the cock's foot on this lamp."

Collection of bronze door knockers, some with human heads Bardini Museum Florence Italy

Bronze Crucifix with wavy arms Bardini Museum Florence Italy

Side view bronze crucifix Bardini Museum Florence Italy

back view of bronze crucifix mounted on clear plastic for total display Bardini Museum Florence Italy
      I found this crucified figure intriguing because his body did not fit the shape of a cross. Perhaps I am crude to say that the abstract shape appeals to me as having a graceful flow to it.

     From the museum: "Over them [two figures not shown here] is hung a Crucified Thief, of which the cross has been lost. In the 1918 New York auction catalogue, Bardini presented the bronze as a work of Zaccaria da Volterra, based on Michelangelo's design."

     I do not understand how they can place this figure on a cross -- would not both feet have been secured? The lower arm was dangling from a rope on the arm of the cross? The figure's back is as well formed as the front. I am certainly no expert, but many sculptors only shape the parts that will be seen. On the other hand, perhaps a slender cross would allow spaces in which the
body could be viewed. In that case, a sculpture in the round would be much easier to create and better for a thorough viewing.

Portrait of a woman in oval frame Bardini Museum Florence Italy

Bronze bas-relief sculpture of a man flashing his nude front arms wide Bardini Museum Florence Italy

Madonna and Child portraits in round frame Bardini Museum Florence Italy

     Now, here is a happy fellow in this center image! And displayed among other bronze reliefs of madonnas and religious figures (not shown).[I do apologize for the refection of my camera in this shot!]

Beautifully carved wooden chest Bardini Museum Florence Italy

Detail of hand carved wooden chest with bas-relief sculpture Bardini Museum Florence Italy
It is sad to see the damage done to this wooden vessel. But what a glory piece she is!

weapon room with sword display Bardini Museum Florence Italy

such beauty in metal sword heads designed to kill Bardini Museum Florence Italy
     While I am not personally much interested in weaponry, the part of me that loves science fiction and fantasy art was intrigued by these spear shapes. Perhaps the holes were made to make the metal lighter, but they are still beautifully crafted.

carved gun handle in weapons room exhibit Bardini Museum Florence Italy

detail of carved ivory handle for gun in weapons exhibit Bardini Museum Florence Italy

Gotta love this: Naked guy angel on a gun? Just look at the size of those thighs! Mamma mia!

Baby in stone statue at the base of staircase hand rail Bardini Museum Florence Italy

iron gate detail frames another crucifix in the blue walls of Bardini Museum Florence Italy

crucifix in a blue room art filled walls and hand carved painted ceiling Bardini Museum Florence Italy
Stone, metal, wood: Sculpture is da bomb!

Bardini Museum Florence Italy is full of art and antiques sculpture and Italian architecture

sculpture of a lion being restored inside the Bardini Museum Florence Italy

     Oh, I wish that I had gotten a better image of this lion in restoration - this area was behind a locked glass door.
      I know a tour guide for Florence who recently posted on Facebook that although the Florentines used the lion as their symbol before they adopted the current fleur-di-lis (different from France's), the artists had never even seen a lion, other than looking at ancient artworks. However, this lion is so much more elegant in form that it makes me wonder . . . For example, I love that graceful triangular taper from the rib cage to the hips.

Architectural gargoyle that looks like inspiration for The Grinch by Dr. Seuss Bardini Museum Florence Italy

 Face of Florentine gargoyle looks like The Grinch by Dr. Seuss Stefano Bardini Museum in Florence, Italy

Inspiration for Dr. Seuss ' The Grinch that Stole Christmas? Stefano Bardini Museum in Florence, Italy

Giambologna's frightful creature Diavolino (little devil) gives me a theory about where Dr. Seuss came up with "The Grinch that Stole Christmas".


Trompe l'oeile mural of woman opening a curtain and looking at the viewer Stefano Bardini Museum in Florence, Italy


mural detail of painted curtain Stefano Bardini Museum in Florence, Italy
I must say that I enjoyed this idea of wallpaper (in truth a fresco) turning out to be a curtain.

winged cherub standing on scroll design architectural feature Stefano Bardini Museum in Florence, Italy

winged cherub standing on scroll design architectural decoration Stefano Bardini Museum in Florence, Italy

winged cherub standing on scroll design architectural decoration Stefano Bardini Museum in Florence, Italy

     Maybe these works are not famous (the sculpture on the right is a fountainhead), but I hope you recognize the artistry in them.
And I hope that I have left you wanting more.

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That's it for now. I hope to see you soon!
Thank you for reading and by all means, forward this newsletter to anyone you think would enjoy it. All of the events mentioned here are open to the public.


Pace (peace),
Kelly Borsheim
5 May 2010

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