Art Nouveau” style, in the Florentine territory
Florence, even though inseparably tied to her Renaissance traditions and not inclined to give in to suggestions for modernism, retains unmistakable signs of a liberty “season” of not insubstantial
importance. The various cultural! and town planning events in the Florentine capital, between the i 8th and I 9th centuries, induced radical urban slum-clearing – evident in the Mercato Vecchio – that produced a type of bourgeois architecture, with occasional eclectic revivals. In the town centre the eclectic themes are well represented by the interventions in Piazza della Repubbhca, once Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, equipped with an impressive large arch, the portico of Caffè Gambrinus and the building, presently Hotel Savoy, by Vincenzo Micheli and completed by Giuseppe Boccini, Luigi Buonamici, Torquato del Lungo and Giuseppe Rossi with the buildings of the Fondiaria, presently Upim, of the historic Caffè Giubbe Rosse.
interior Villino Broggi.
Near the Fortezza da Basso, a very good example of eclectic architecture is the Russian Orthodox Church, built between 1899 and 1903 from the plans of the Russian Michele Preobragensky and carried out by the Florentines Giuseppe Boccini and Giovanni Paciarelli. The building reassumes an exotic form with the ornamental and colorful exuberance of a fabulous culture, dreamt up from Russian-Byzantine inspiration.
Outside the city centre, amongst the numerous villas built or reconstructed in eclectic style, one remembers the Villa Stibbert, home of the museum of the same name, which houses, Arms, and the works of art of the Federico Stihbert collection, and the Chianti Chalet on the road of Santa Margherita a Montici and on the via Settignanese, the Mezzaratta castle, accomplished by Adolfo Coppedè in the early twenties of the 2Oth century for Filippo Maria Contri.
The architects, who worked on the Florentine territory, for a long time remained attached to the neo-renaissance lines dictated by Poggi: even during the years in which Europe was overtaken by the Art Nouveau Phenomenon, between 1913 and 1915, in Florence, Rodolfo Sabatini was thinking in an early renaissance theme regarding the building of the Post Office. Despite the difficulty of establishing an “Art Nouveau” style, in the Tuscan capita!, the modernist tendency started showing itself in relatively early, but significant episodes, such as the Tepidarium of the Horticultural Garden, produced by the Officine Michelucci di Pistoia, from a plan by
Giacomo Roster, for the first National Horticultural Exhibition of 1880.
The first episode that definitely qualified as liberty, carne about in 1903, right in the centre of the town: we are talking about the building of Magazine Pola & Todesean, built from the plan by Giovanni Paciarelli, in collaboration, perhaps, with Giovanni Michelazzi, to whom credit must be given for the more interesting achievements in the sphere of private buildings in Liberty style, in the new residential areas past the ‘‘viali” del Poggi (Poggi Avenues). Rare evidence of the expanding new style, even in the historic centre, is the house gallery of Borgo Ognissanti, designed by Michelazzi for Argia Marinari Viehi, in 1911.
The building dominates the urban network, tightly between two ancient buildings, with the tension of the curved lines of the facade, the vertical frame work of the windows. The large round opening on the top Floor, and the elegant swirls of the railings. But the areas in which the seductive liberty style could express itself more Liberally, were those outside the old Porta – alla Croce, near Piazza Beccaria, and outside Porta Romana, along viale Petrarca and of Poggio Imperiale, where we find the major diffusion of bourgeois housing.
In these districts, Giovanni Miehelazzi, satisfied his whims in a variety of ways with different ornamental styles, often using the ceramics of Galileo Chini: protomi, festoons, garlands, animal forms, animate in muted tones, the facade of the cottage Ravanini, of 1907, then, in gradually more lively colors; he decorated the two nearby cottages Lampredi and Broggi Caraceni, becoming more Byzantine in the cottage Baroncelli and finally standing firm in the Galeotti Flori cottage, then Toccafondi, which marked the years between 1915 and 1920.
Around the figure of Giovanni Miehelazzi and that, for certain complementary directions, of Galileo Chini, revolved a series of architects, that albeit with a minor cultural effect, courageously expressed their wish to break with tradition. They were Adolfo Coppede, Enrico Dante Fantappiè, Paolo Emilio André, Ugo Giusti who, while adhering to eclectic style, contributed to stirring Florence from the dullness of its persistent renaissance sentimentality with elements of “arte nuova”. A significant example of the activity of Paolo Emilio André is contained in the Uzielli cottage in piazza D’Azeglio, which was built between 1904 and 1906 whose strict volumetric installation Is brought up to date with the new decorative style. More noticeable Liberty elements show themselves in Casa Antonini, designed by Adolfo Coppedè and finished in 1907, where, even in the installation of the building, still of the original l9th century, the Façade is made of ornamental components of secessionist tendencies, with bosses, eagles, proteome and sphinxes.
Not far from Casa Antonini, in via del Ghirladaio, Ugo Giusti planned, between 1912 and 1914, the home and studio of his friend Galileo Chini, and on the facade stood out a fresco of the master, although Today it is almost completely lost, it inspired the paneling of the room Mestrovic carried out by himself for the Biennial Exhibition in Venice in 1914.
Another house-studio, built in 1885, built ought up to date in the new style between 1911 and 1912 is that of the sculptor Rinaldo Carnielo, in piazza Savonarola, whose façade was probably designed by same artist, which belonged to the decorative repertory of the secessionist brand. On show in the building is a collection of works which the artist donated to the City of Florence.