Tuesday, March 9, 2010


The Last Supper, a fresco by Ghirlandaio is in the Ognissanti in Florence. Sitting in front of this painting I was taken by the composition using the wall as a backdrop to the seated figures, and the rhythm created by the trees behind the wall.

Each year during the blooming weeks, flowers are brought into the studio and quickly painted onto blank canvases. The painted flowers are more or less painted as if they are in vases....
not the most appropriate way to compose I admit. So, during the off season ( winter ) I try to figure in the rest of the composition, often I rely on the Italian (Tuscan & Umbrian) landscape to balance the vigor of the flowers. However, this device can be over used. It is very difficult to abandon beautiful valleys punctuated with cypress trees and red tile roofs, but I feel that repetition is becoming stale. I needed to get out of Italy (visually) so it seemed the best place to go was back to Italy. It was there that I think I found the clue.

It was in Florence when we were searching out paintings by the Renaissance master Domenico Ghirlandaio, that we came upon his fresco The Last Supper, in the refectory of the Ognissanti (Piazza Ognissanti). Here Ghirlandaio uses a wall behind the seated group and we see just the upper portions of trees against a sky visible above the wall. Why not try it? Paintings are very intricate puzzles and it is difficult to make ll the pieces fit.

By the way, when you are in Florence in need of a break,walk across the bridge Ponte Alla Carraia (not far from the Ognissanti), toward Piazza Nazario Sauro. Just after you cross the bridge, on your right is a good gelateria. Once you have sampled the gelato, make your way to Santo Spirito. For a great gelato, Bar Vivolo, after a visit to Santa Croce.

1 comment:

Lillian Stokes said...

It's interesting to read how your thinking about the background of your paintings is evolving.