About the Exhibition

November 8, 2015

I do not update this site as it was for a graduate school project which ended years ago. I also threw this up here rather quickly, so it is riddled with typo’s. Since many people seem to visit and enjoy this site, I have no plans to take it down, but I will begin copy editing my pages to make it easier for you to read.

I would also like emphasize that I am a librarian and not an art historian. If you plan to use this site for a paper, I┬árecommend that you consult the references I cited below each “exhibition piece”.

Florence in War and Flood
by Clare O’Dowd
Pratt SILS
Florence Summer Program with SACI – Studio Art Centers International
LIS-697 A3 – Florentine Art & Culture: Museum and Library Research and Documentation
Professor Maria Antonia Rinaldi
Summer 2011

This exhibition explores the connection between art and life in Florence during two periods in which both were threatened. Information on twelve works of art and architecture, six in the context of World War II and six in the context of the Arno Flood of 1966, can be found in the drop-down menus above under Works in Exhibition – The War and Works in Exhibition – The Flood.

I came to Florence with a background in WWII history and some familiarity of the Flood of 1966. During our class tours and my own walks throughout the city, I often found myself very affected when confronting works that I knew had been attacked in some way that was still fresh in living memory. I was always struck by the continued and unexpected meanings infused in them throughout their histories.

For most of the surviving art works and monuments, it was hard to tell that they were restored after severe damage or reconstructions. But, for example, if you look closely at the statue of Spring atop the Ponte Santa Trinita, you see where she lost her head. Others wear their stories on their sleeves, like Cimabue’s Crucifix, which is noticeably missing much of its original paint, or Vasari’s ravaged Last Supper, which our class was very fortunate to be able to see in person as it was being restored at the Opificio dell Pietre Dure.

Before coming to Florence, I had read Robert Clark’s Dark Water, a great book about the flood, which featured many references to Florentine Art Under Fire by Frederick Hartt, an art historian and Allied monuments officer during WWII. The book has been long out of print, but non-circulating copies can be found in places like the New York Public Library and the Frick Art Reference Library. After returning home, I was very happy to find one of the few cheap copies for sale online.

I was introduced to Florence through its art, museums, and churches in class, and I got to know it a little better by walking through its streets for five weeks. Researching this project was sometimes an emotional task because it was baffling to read about and see images of the destruction and suffering that befell the city. However, it was also reassuring and exciting to learn about what people were willing to do save Florence and its heritage.


Banner & Exhibit Images

-Banner images of the Ponte Vecchio and the destruction around the Arno and the destruction of the Via de’ Bardi from Uffizi from Frederick Hartt’s memoir, Florentine Art Under Fire (1949).
-Banner image of flood with Duomo in the background from Wikimedia Commons.
-Banner image of flood at entrance of Ponte Vecchio and flooded Sita Station from http://www.florence-flood.com.
-All exhibit images from Wikimedia Commons unless otherwise noted.