Fabrizio Moretti tells The Visitation by Pontormo
We'll come back and hug again. Waiting for that moment, we propose a journey among the most beautiful artistic representations of this gesture full of sweetness.
Yes, it will happen because it's as old as man. Because we need it. While waiting for that moment we decided to take a journey in the history of art to see the most beautiful hugs, those whose colors, power, balance we appreciated but we never dwelt on that gesture so usual that it involves not only our upper limbs but all the muscles of the body. A real motion of the soul.
We could only start from one of the most beautiful embraces of art, The Visitation of Pontormo, an admirable chapter of Florentine Mannerism that is not far from Florence, in the proposition of Saints Michael Francis in Carmignano. You have certainly seen it in one of the two exhibitions in Palazzo Strozzi that hosted it, that of Bill Viola in 2017 and one on Rosso Fiorentino and Pontormo a few years earlier. But when we can go back to moving around at least a little bit, go and see it in this little country church. Here it is even more moving if possible.
Fabrizio Moretti, a leading figure in international art and Secretary General of the Biennale Internazionale dell'Antiquariato of Palazzo Corsini in Florence, told it for us with a video. It was he who financed the restoration in 2013 that brought the work back to its ancient beauty. The hand that performed this small miracle is that of Daniele Rossi, Florentine restorer who has to his credit the restoration of an incredible number of real masterpieces. We asked Daniele how he felt when he was confronted with all the power and energy of this canvas but above all he told us about his extraordinary discovery:
"I remember perfectly that it was in the afternoon and the lamp illuminated the corner of the building. While I was removing some of the paint in the background, I didn't understand exactly what that grey mark at the end of the street was; it certainly wasn't a stone. The next day, as I continued to carefully remove the repaints, two pointed ears and a smiling face appeared: incredibly it was the head of a small donkey, which had been sleeping under the painted layers for over a hundred years. So funny that it seemed to me a caricature of Jacovitti.
The donkey looking around the corner of the palace was waiting for the Madonna to meet her cousin Elisabetta. Everything set in motion and the scene was transformed again."
Looking at the Visitation, one cannot but go with one's mind to the work The Greeting (1995) by Bill Viola, which presents in a video that poignant embrace, also shown at Palazzo Strozzi during the exhibition on the American artist in 2017. Another embrace, certainly more bare and contemporary, but able to arouse the same empathy and involve the viewer. During the restoration Bill Viola expressly asked to see Pontormo's work in Daniele Rossi's studio, after seeing it for the first time as a young student during his long stay in Florence.