We left a clutch of astounded docents in our wake as we made our way through the Uffizi galleries. The kids were wonderfully interested in the different paintings. We compared French, Italian, and Flemish paintings from the early Renaissance. We discussed Michelangelo's musculature. We talked about brush strokes, realism, chiaroscuro, and more.
Two docents were particularly tickled by us. The first was when I asked about Caravaggio's work, and explained that James had been studying the artist. His eyes bugged out, and with a smile he commented that it seemed rather early for the kid to begin studying Caravaggio!
In the next gallery, James was asking about a painting entitled "The Slaughter of the Innocents." In it, the soldiers' arms and legs were much darker than the torsos; in fact, it appeared as though they were wearing pale flesh-colored short-sleeved tunics. I asked the docent about this (he'd been eying us with a smile), and he explained the symbolism of the darkness that the arms and legs were carrying out -- the evil of their actions. He then told me about a book that we might enjoy that explains the allegories and symbolism of many Renaissance paintings.
On our way out, young James's eyes were caught by a painting. In the most piping voice possible, "Isn't that St. Sebastian?" Sure enough --
Florence was great with explaining symbolism and perspective to James, and Jeremy was very impressed with some of the early art. Everyone loved the frescoed ceilings in the galleries. And a bonus: I had been told that the Birth of Venus might not be on display because of the renovations. But it was! Hurrah!
On the way to the Caravaggio galleries, we all loved the galleries that were under renovation: the Uffizi personnel had hung painting-sized photographs of work site, individual crew members (in their cute little uniforms), and so on.
One last giggle (?) before we left: when we were going to the restrooms, we went down some modern metal steps over some excavation work. I looked down, and saw -- a femur. No joke. There were human bones just sitting there next to me. Who knows how old they are?