Title: Florence Gossip | The Artists' Humoristic Exhibition

Periodical: The Galignani's Messenger

Date: March 27, 1890

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The Artists' Humoristic Exhibition.

The spacious rooms of the Artists Club in Palazzo Pucci were opened to a public exhibition of humoristic art last week, the result of several months' hard work, for the purpose of increasing the funds for aiding cases of necessity among their number. From the nature of the subject it would be difficult to translate the majority of Italian puns and double ententes, which were the foundation of most of the objects displayed, but great diversity of subjects, ability of execution, and now and then genuine wit render the exhibition an amusing one. An orchestra plays every evening, and an hour or so can be spent most agreeably in wandering through the rooms, some of which are so transformed as to be unrecognisable.

On entering the first room, we noted "elevator" written in large characters, and, following the hand that points towards it, see that the index is indefinitely prolonged, disappearing round the corner to the staircase outside.

The most prominent object in this room is a monument to Mr. Livingstone, the well-known American gentleman who indulged his passion for driving twenty horses through the streets of Florence, until incontinenlty suppressed by the authorities after two runaway accidents. The monument consists of a life-like painted plaster cast of himself, dressed in his usual clothes, white hat with black band, and plaid scarf, leaning forward from the driving seat of his coach, while the numerous reins from his hands are attached to horses represented as turning a curve, and from nearly life-size diminish in the distance to mere rocking horses and heads on sticks. The effect is most amusing, and the whole thing one of the best in the exhibition.

The walls are covered with various objects representing puns in Italian, of which the following by Rocchi will serve as a specimen—two pieces of red-tanned leather to represent the Redskins, labelled "American export," "Colour extra," "Warranted," "Buffalo Bill and Co." The second room is devoted to mechanical contrivances and inventions. A huge bellows and smithy on the left are well-modelled and painted, while big cogged wheels and triangular mechanisms of impossible utility were labled as representing perpetual motion, perfection of Archimedes' discovery, and various other fantastic theories. The most amusing device in this room was the automatic matrimonial bed, at each side of which a candle was placed, while a bellows, concealed inside, acted on the slightest pressure, and blew out the two candles. This device caused more amusement than any other, and was tested practically by nearly everyone passing it.

The third room was a conservatory filled with what at a first glance appeared to be legitimate plants until closely inspected, when such outrageous puns as the following were seen:—"Boutons de rose," a rose-tree covered with white shirt buttons; "forget-me-nots," bundles of unpaid bills; "bread plants," bushes bearing rolls and buns; "emancipation of the roots," plant bearing roots in the place of flowers; "the plant of the future," a pot containing only earth; the "phylloxera magnified 100,000 times," consisting of a boy climbing a colossal vine and "going for" equally colossal bunches of grapes formed of Tuscan wine [missing text] stripped of their straw, and painted purple—one of the most effective compositions here. Just outside the glass of the conservatory were two enormous sunflowers, anxious to get into the aristocratic atmosphere of the conservatory. The floral face of one wore a most woe-begone expression, while the other has succeeded in breaking through the glass, with the result of a badly cut face from which the blood streams on to the broken glass—an absurd fancy.

After passing through a beautiful drawing-room containing only some distorted photographs, we come to a striking contrast by walking into a capital imitation of an old court of the Ghetto, that part of the city fast disappearing under the blows of the pickaxe and the contractors' myrmidons. Overhead were stretched across long pieces of dingy, vari-coloured cotton stuffs, underfoot the floor was covered with thick paper painted to represent the old pavement, while around were various shops of wine sellers, bakers, greengrocers and a life-like figure of an old pedlar selling wares from his barrow. An ancient well at one side of the courtyard, with time-stained mortar crumbling off the bricks, looked as if it had served the wants of a very dirty population for centuries, and the dingy shop signs, old linen drying at the windows, dirty walls with notices pasted on them and mossy tiles jutting out from low roofs completed the illusion.

A glance at the contents of the shops, however, which seemed all right in the distance, showed a strange mixture of commodities. For instance, zamponi are pigs' legs stuffed with meat, like Bologna sausages, and the word in Italian also means large legs; so, in the place of real zamponi, hung enormous, loud-patterned women's stockings. To enumerate even a portion of the ridiculous devices that made Italian puns, many of more than doubtful decency, would weary the reader's patience. Reference, however, must be made to the fine (?) art gallery, numbering 114 oil paintings of different subjects, many of which would have been better suitable for a more private and secluded place than a public exhibition. Projecting from the walls overhead were casts of several of the most famous Greek statues clothed in costumes befitting their modern transformation. Among others were a violin player; but the best and most ridiculous was the Venus di Medici, in black silk stockings, short muslin ballet skirt, long black gloves, and red velvet scoop hat. The well-known posture was maintained, and presented a ludicrous effect. As one leaves this exhibition, a feeling of regret cannot fail to cross one's mind that so much time and talent have been expended on such fooling, clever as some of it undoubtedly is.

The Countess of Tallyrand-Périgord gave a farewell musical party Saturday week prior to her departure for Paris. There was also a ball at the Casino Borghese, and a few small dances, among which one given by Mrs. Hamilton, for Miss Pyne Hamilton's birthday. Mrs. McNamee's guests have also been amusing themselves at a dance, given by her at Mid-Lent in her private hotel. There are to be theatricals at the Teator Rinuccin in a few days, at which some of our best amateurs will appear in Caste. The well-known London amateur, Mr. Colnaghi, takes the famous part of Eccles, coming on here expressly. The performances will be given for charity, and the little theatre promises to be well filled.

Title: Florence Gossip | The Artists' Humoristic Exhibition

Periodical: The Galignani's Messenger

Source: McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, MS6.3777.089.03 (Rome)

Date: March 27, 1890

Topic: Buffalo Bill's Wild West in Italy & Spain

Keywords: Aristocracy (Social class) Art objects Art--Exhibitions Art Casino Borghese (Rome, Italy) Florence (Italy) Gossip Italian wit and humor Nobility--Italy Talleyrand-Perigord family Theater programs Theater Wit and humor in art

Sponsor: This project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Geraldine W. & Robert J. Dellenback Foundation.

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