The Liberty of Poetry

Posted July 28th, 2006 by Sylvia S Tognetti and filed in Civics 101, Trip reports, Tuscanophilia

OK, I’m back in Muddy Spring so, catching up on a few things I didn’t have time to blog while I was away, this picture is of a statue I had go to see with my own eyes. If it has been in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence all these years, I must have seen it before… at least a few times during art history class field trips in middle school. As have many other people. Titled, “The Liberty of Poetry,” it sits just inside the church between the middle and right hand main doors, on top of the tomb of Giovanni Battista Niccolini – a professor of history and mythology and also a poet and playwright whose main theme was the ideal of freedom. In her raised hand is a broken chain, which represents the defeat of tyranny through artistic expression and other forms of creative genius – which, of course, includes real science. On either side of the doors are the tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo, and not far, the empty tomb of Dante whose bones remain in his place of exile. And some other well-known figures. Since it carries the mark of the water the 1966 flood, it had to have been there. Like the tombs and statues, that water line is also noted with a plaque, which makes it now an official part of Florentine history and which makes me feel old. But sometime in the past couple of years, the Tuscan-American Association, which was looking to demonstrate relationships between Tuscany and America, pointed to an obvious resemblance to the Statue of Liberty, and made a case that it was most likely its inspiration. What is known is that, although not completed until 1877, the sculptor, Pio Fedi, had completed a plaster cast for itby 1872, and that the drawings had been in circulation before that. It is also known that Bartholdi, who sculpted the Statue of Liberty, was in Italy in those early years of Italian unification, and got around in artistic and intellectual circles. More and better pictures can be found here. You can read more details at the site of the Tuscan-American Association, which also used an image of this statue for the cover of a book.

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