A Renaissance Christmas

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Dec 24, 2020

Tis the season of angels, heavenly music, and nativity scenes!

Christian or not, we all know the Christmas Story, its characters and incidents … but many of us don’t realize that it is, in fact, an amalgamation of only two of the four Gospels which have been cobbled together.

Matthew tells of a nativity full of pageantry and procession with the arrival of the Three Magi — scholars, wise men from far, far away, with their finest gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to pay homage to a newborn King; while Luke shares a story of humble simplicity — of a babe born in a rustic manger surrounded by animals, and of local shepherds who come to adore him.  Both gospels prominently feature angels in important roles as messengers who announce the arrival of the baby Jesus.

All of this has resulted in the creation of many a Renaissance masterpiece.  Please enjoy this holiday slideshow featuring some of my favorite paintings, by Italian Renaissance masters … naturally.  Photos features were either taken by me or sourced from Wiki-Commons and are in the public domain.

Wishing you all Buon Natale and Buon Capodanno as we all look forward to a brighter and more joyous 2021.

A Mangiare!

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Nov 25, 2020

“Life is a combination of magic and pasta”

-Federico Fellini, Director

Buona Festa del Ringraziamento! It may be “Turkey Day” here in the States . . . but what better time to be grateful for the abbondanza that is Italian cuisine!

A special mille grazia to each of you for your enthusiastic support of Postcards from the Boot and my Italian cultural programs.

May your day, and the year ahead, be filled with abundance and joy.

Raphael: Renaissance Rock Star

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Nov 2, 2020

Raffaello Sanzio, better known simply as Raphael, enjoyed a meteoric career. Handsome and the consummate gentleman, Raphael was famous both for his artistic skill and his charismatic personality. From his beginnings as a local painter in Urbino and later Florence, Raphael skyrocketed to “stardom” in Rome, ultimately becoming the city’s most sought-after artist. Raphael’s untimely death at the age of 37 while at the height of his powers only solidified the legend of his extraordinary talent. 2020 marks the 500th anniversary of his death. A majestic retrospective of his work took place in Rome this summer to commemorate his extraordinary body of work which you can view on YouTube.

Best known for his exquisite madonnas, Raphael was an artist whose range spanned  from paintings of all sizes and drawings in chalk and ink, to elaborate fresco cycles, tapestry designs, and architecture. He was also a designer, taste-maker, entrepreneur, team builder (supervising a workshop of over 50 artists), and visionary. His work is notable for its elegance, grace and ingenuity. How does one paint the concept of philosophy or divine grace?

Raphael did such things with sprezzatura (the appearance of effortless genius), a concept popularized by his close friend, Baldassare Castiglione, in his Book of the Courtier.

The world’s first art historian (also, a bit of a gossip), Giorgio Vasari attributed Raphael’s death, on Good Friday 1520, to an excess of amorous activities  . . . he was quite the lady’s man. The shock of his death reverberated throughout Rome. Raphael’s body lay in state in his studio under his final finished work, the Transfiguration, before being interred in no less an exalted site than the Pantheon.