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Church of the Annunciation.
As I sometimes amuse myself by exploring the miracles of the Roman Catholic belief, I shall here speak of one, and of the church in which its record is preserved.
La Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata contains a miraculous picture of the Virgin, of which the story runs thus. Some (as usual, hundred) years since, in 1252, one Bartolomeo, a painter employed on a picture of the Madonna, had finished all but the head, and this, after much pondering how to make sufficiently celestial, he abandoned in despair, and fell asleep. Upon awaking, he found the head ready painted for him (doubtless by an Angel), and thus thinking, and crying out, he ran all over the town in a divine extacy, proclaiming-A miracle! a miracle!
This picture is preserved with the greatest veneration in a most costly chapel of the church, of a pavilion form; and is protected by three curtains, of which the outer one is changed every day. Unfortunately it is scarcely ever shown, except by favour to Princes, and Sovereigns, and I was told that nothing less than a special permission from the Pope or the Grand Duke would do for me.
Before the holy image there burn silver lamps of exquisite workmanship, one presented by Maria Maddalena of Austria, consort of Cosmo II, there are silver candelabras six feet high, a silver altar, silver steps, curtain, fringe, lilies, ciborio, and two silver statues of angels.
Andrea del Sarto.
The adjoining Oratory is encrusted with jasper, agate, oriental calcedony, and choicest marbles, beautifully inlaid and wrought in relief to represent flowers, and the sun and moon, with the planetary spheres. The other treasures of art are the paintings of the dome by Volterrano; and the chapel erected from the designs, and at the expense (about 6000 crowns) of John of Bologna, whose remains lie here. The bronze Crucifix over
the altar is his own production.
In one of the outer corridors of the church is the much admired fresco of Andrea del Sarto, known as the Madonna del Sacco; thus named, because the artist at that time in the greatest indigence painted it for a sack of corn. It is but fair to acknowledge that it is much injured by exposure to weather; but I looked, and looked in vain, for those pre-eminent beauties which have obtained for it so much celebrity.
These outer corridors are also adorned with other frescoes by Del Sarto, which are greatly prized, yet were performed by him for the humble sum of from ten, to fifteen, crowns a-piece. This famed, and unfortunate, artist was nicknamed Sarto, from his father's trade as a tailor: his family name was Vannucchi.
This church is one of the most distinguished in Florence. In former days it has been visited with all due pomp by Popes Martin V, Eugene IV, and
Church of the Annunciation.
Pius VII. Here also were celebrated the nuptials of the Grand Duke Leopold with Anna Maria Carolina of Saxony; and it still continues to be the most fashionable church, and grand rendezvous of devotees to religion, or other matters.
Gallery of Florence.
GALLERY OF FLORENCE-JOHN OF BOLOGNA'S MERCURY, AND RAPE OF THE SABINES-CELLINI'S PERSEUS THE TRIBUNE -VENUS DE' MEDICI, AND OTHER SCULPTURES-PICTURES BY GUERCINO-RAPHAEL, &c.-TITIAN'S VENUS-HALL OF NIOBE-ETRUSCAN, AND ROMAN, RELICS-MICHAEL ANGELO'S BRUTUS, AND EPIGRAMS-MOSAIC TABLES-HALL OF PORTRAITS-MEDICEAN VASE-HERMAPHRODITE-CLAUDE -LEONARDO DA VINCI-CABINET OF GEMS-EARLY PAINTINGS-GABINETTO FISICO-PLAGUE IN WAX-PITTI PALACE —PICTURES BY SALVATOR ROSA-RUBENS-CIGOLI, &c. &c. RAPHAEL'S HOLY FAMILIES GUIDO'S CLEOPATRA
GRAND DUCHESS'S BATH-ALABASTER COLUMNS.
THE gallery of Florence being one of the most valuable in Europe, I will endeavour to note some of its chief beauties.
It was built in 1564 by Giorgio Vasari, under the direction of Cosmo I, whose family, in their successive reigns, purchased at any price the invaluable relics of art it now includes. Till the accession of Leopold these treasures had been considered as the property of the reigning sovereign; but his munificence offered, and decreed, the entire collection as the property of the state. The gallery is formed of two parallel and lateral corridors 430 feet long, terminated, and united, by another of about 100 feet long; the whole proportionably wide, and about twenty feet high. The gallery forms the topmost range of the building; the
Gallery of Florence.
halls beneath are appropriated as depositaries of the public archives, public offices, and also contain the Magliabechian library, &c. &c.
Though somewhat prepared, still hope throbs high, and anticipation flutters, in approaching so famed a sanctuary of art as this. The first striking object is the famed original Wild Boar, and near to him two Wolf Dogs,-all wonderfully expressive. The eye is then arrested by the ceilings of the various corridors, painted historically, and fancifully, by successive painters from the year 1581; -by busts of the various contributors to the museum;-by Sarcophagi, most interesting from the classical subjects sculptured on them ;-by a series of busts of the Roman Emperors, and Empresses, almost complete, and many most rare; and by statues without number, some few of which I particularize, not meaning to hunt out phrases, and epithets, to eulogize them, or the still vainer attempt of description; but simply to notice them as objects of the highest celebrity; to recall them by this memento to my mind's eye, and to point them out to others whose turn it may be next to see them.
A Mercury by John of Bologna is actually buoyant in the air. The artist has expressed him as sailing on, or ascending to, the skies, wafted by the breath of a Zephyr, and to the utmost beauty of form has superadded the aerial lightness of the