Middle Eastern passions: Islamic art from Florence to Urbino

Tray Syria or Egypt, Mamluk, 1293-1341 circa Wrought brass, engraved, with totally lost ageminatura Palermo, Regional Gallery of Sicily of Palazzo Abatellis

Often enemies on land and sea, in the arts intertwined a dense dialogue and passionate: let's talk about the Italian Renaissance Lords and the Muslim sultans.
In the beautiful country of 500 years ago the Orient means luxury, rarity and refinement. And if in Florence the inlaid metal objects coming from the East are in demand, in Istanbul the most exclusive trend is to dress up in Florence. A sign that the opposites attract or have a basic affinity between the daughter cultures of two great monotheistic religions? Fruit of a centuries-old habit in comparison or of a dark passion in which the desire for domination is mirrored? Much has been written about the taste of the West for Islamic art, in the time protagonist of courses and appeals

Without a doubt it is a fascinating story that unfolds between Florence and Urbino through the works collected by some of the greatest collectors of past centuries. Precious objects, marvelous or bizarre, come from afar or created under the influence of oriental marvels.
To be discovered in two exhibitions held simultaneously and in collaboration with Uffizi, Bargello Museum and Galleria Nazionale delle Marche.

• Islam and Florence. Art and collectibles from the Medici to the twentieth century – Galleries of the Uffizi and the Bargello National Museum, Florence. Until 23 September
The most resounding gift from the East to the Lords of Florence was undoubtedly the giraffe that Lorenzo the Magnificent received from the Sultan of Egypt, Qayt Bay. He survived only two months but the court painters competed to portray her: in Tuscany, an animal like this had never been seen before.
Incredible glazed glass, vases and carafes in polychrome metals, carved ivories, carpets, majolica, rock crystals, illuminated manuscripts, which today in Florence tell centuries of encounters, exchanges and contaminations, remained intact.
Recent studies included in the exhibition catalog reveal the central role of the city in a network of intercultural and interreligious relations that for hundreds of years has linked Christian, Muslim and Jewish realities.
There are two locations and thematic nuclei of the route edited by Giovanni Curatola.

Al Museo del Bargello the events of an illustrious collecting directed to the East are staged . The French Louis Carrand, the British Frederick Stibbert, the Tuscans Stefano Bardini and Giulio Franchetti, scholars and directors of museums such as Bernard Berenson and Wilhelm von Bode are the protagonists of the great season of ferment that characterizes the Florentine culture at the turn of the nineteenth century. Twentieth century.
The collection of Islamic art of the Bargello Museum, one of the most important in Europe, will be born from here.

In the Magliabechiana Chamber of the Uffizi however, the marvels that have come from afar are witnessed by contact in the painting of central Italy, like the Arabic characters and customs of the Adoration of the Magi by Gentile da Fabriano or portraits of the sultans in Serie Gioviana by Cristofano dell'Altissimo.
Among the most precious pieces, metals and decorated glass that have had a great influence on the following Italian tradition, fabrics and large 16th century Mameluke carpets, Hispanic-Moorish ceramics with Florentine coats of arms, ending with the oldest dated code ( 1217) of the "Book of Kings" by the Persian poet Firdusi

For the entire duration of Islam and Florence. Art and collectibles from the Medici to the twentieth century the Galleries of the Uffizi and the Bargello Museum will offer the opportunity to purchase a combined ticket valid for three days with access to the collections at a cost of 29 euros (reduced 14.50) permanents of both, to the two stages of the exhibition and also to the Museo Archeologico of Florence.

• Montefeltro and the Islamic East. Urbino1430-1550. The Palazzo Ducale between East and West – Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, Urbino. Until September 30th
Among the most illustrious Lords of central Italy, Federico da Montefeltro surrounded himself with celebrities such as Piero della Francesca, Paolo Uccello and Giusto di Gand.
But the rooms of the Palazzo Ducale that he built in Urbino – and which today host the National Gallery of the Marches – they also shone with wonderful oriental tapestries and refined carpets made from Egypt, Persia or Anatolia.

The newly inaugurated exhibition project brings the treasures of Federico and his successors back to their original location from museums such as the Louvre or the British Museum, to show them to the public as could be seen by a visitor to the Urbino court in the sixteenth century.
Protagonists the prestigious Salone del Trono, the Sala dei Banchetti and the Biblioteca del Duca, unique in its time for quality and vastness of the volumes kept: "Here the objects live like nowhere else", says the curator Alessandro Bruschettini, "With a choice that Federico would surely have appreciated". Therefore, carpets, tapestries and precious fabrics, but also goldsmiths, majolica and worked metal objects. Particular attention is paid to the art of the book with manuscripts and admirable miniatures, in homage to the bibliophile of the landlord.

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