Via Tornabuoni in Florence

Artist: Valentin Serov
Date: 1904
Media: Watercolours on paper mounted on cardboard
Dimensions: 50.6 x 33.7 cm
Ownership: Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
Ilya Ostroukhov, Moscow; Ostroukhov Museum, Moscow (until 1929)
Style: Impressionism
Valentin Serov, Via Tornabuoni in Florence, 1904


Valentin Serov visited Italy in 1904, but was not impressed: “I expected much from Florence... The architecture is unattractive. The Campanile di Giotto is fine, but not captivatingly so, as I had imagined. Il Duomo is such a ridiculous lump inside and outside – it is remarkable; the dome, true, is wonderful. Yes, also fine are the Loggia dell’Orcagna of the Piazza de la Signoria; the palaces: Strozzi, etc., etc. I do not want to relate what I like and what I do not like: that is rather tedious.”

The artist nevertheless managed to paint several outstanding watercolours in Italy, which earned the praise of his fellow artist and colleague Alexander Golovin: “I have always regarded him as a superb landscapist, his Riva degli Schiavoni (Venice) and Via Tornabuoni (Florence) are particularly marvellous.”

Via Tornabuoni is named after a family of rich Florentine bankers who were closely related to the Medici. In the foreground is the Mannerist sculpture on the top of the Ancient Roman column installed on Piazza Santa Trinita in 1554. The church of Santa Trìnita (11th–14th centuries, facade rebuilt in 1593–94) and the Antica Torre (13th century, now an hotel) can be seen in the perspective of the street, which runs down to the Ponte Santa Trìnita over the River Arno.

Literature: Gosudarstvennaya Tret’yakovskaya galereya. Risunok i akvarel’: V. D. Polenov, I. I. Levitan, V. A. Serov, M. V.Vrubel’, Moscow, 1956, p. 67; I Katalog vystavki kartin Soyuza russkikh khudozhnikov, St Petersburg, 1905, No. 311; II Katalog vystavki kartin Soyuza russkikh khudozhnikov, Moscow, 1905, No. 296; Vystavka proizvedenii V. A. Serova. 1865–1911, Moscow, 1935, No. 460; Katalog vystavki proizvedenii Valentina Aleksandrovicha Serova. 1865–1911, Leningrad, 1935, No. 513; Valentin Aleksandrovich Serov: Vystavka proizvedenii. Putevoditel’, Moscow, 1958; Vystavka risunka, akvareli, pasteli i guashi kontsa XIX – nachala XX veka iz sobraniya Gosudarstvennoi Tret’yakovskoi galerei, Moscow, 1963, p. 71; Serov V. A. (1865–1911): Katalog vystavki proizvedenii k 100-letiyu so dnya rozhdeniya khudozhnika, Moscow/Leningrad, 1965, p. 64; Vystavka russkoi akvareli kontsa XVIII – nachala XX vekov iz sobraniya Gosudarstvennoi Tret’yakovskoi galerei, Moscow, 1967, p. 129; Valentin Serov. K 125-letiyu so dnya rozhdeniya. Gosudarstvennaya Tret’yakovskaya galereya. Gosudarstvennyi Russkii muzei. Katalog vystavki, Leningrad, 1991, No. 313, p. 55 ill.; I. E. Grabar, Valentin Aleksandrovich Serov: Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo, Moscow, 1914, p. 291; I. E. Grabar, Valentin Aleksandrovich Serov: Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo. 1865–1911, Moscow, 1965, p. 424; Valentin Serov: Zhivopis’. Grafika. Teatral’no-dekorativnoe iskusstvo, introductory article by Dmitry Sarabianov, Leningrad, 1982, No. 456; Russkie khudozhniki-puteshestvenniki. Proizvedeniya iz fondov grafiki XVIII – nachala XX veka, PC CD-ROM accompanying the exhibition, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, 2009

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