The genius of Giambologna: bringing bronze and marble to life

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Yesterday in another of my musings about art, architecture and music in Florence, I talked about Giambologna’s bronze equestrian statue of Grand Duke Ferdinando I, and of the bemusing bees at its base. (See http://www.watermill.uk.net/blog/?p=18449)

The monumental bronze equestrian statue was the last of Giambologna’s works (it was finished by his pupil Pietro Tacca) and the Grand Duke’s horse has its feet firmly on the ground. But in some of Giambologna’s earlier masterpieces he can almost make bronze – and marble too – take flight.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Take Mercury, the messenger of the gods, for example. You can see him in the Bargello, my favourite museum in Florence, and that’s him above. Giambologna completed the bronze in 1580 and it started life as a figure in a fountain in the Villa Medici in Rome.

Mercury is delicately balanced on the toes of one foot, on a breath of wind from the mouth of Zephyr. He is performing an elegant arabesque and pointing towards the heavens. Giambologna’s skill in balancing the weight of the sculpture is incredible: you believe that Mercury is hardly touching the ground and at any moment he will take off.

The second outstanding statue by Giambologna (a stab by the Florentines at pronouncing his real name, Jean de Boulogne) is the Rape of the Sabine Women, to be seen a few dozen paces away in the Loggia dei Lanzi, in the piazza signoria.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

It commemorates an incident when the ancient Romans attacked nearby tribes and abducted their women in a non-pc attempt to bolster their birthrate. A better translation of the original Latin would be The Abduction of the Sabine Women, but ‘rape’ seems to have stuck, although Livy claims there was no sexual assault, merely an abduction (!) to gather in potential wives. Be that as it may, Giambologna’s work is a technical and creative masterpiece, classicism and dynamism rolled into one.

Carved from a single block of stone, the statue is exciting from any angle. First you view the three bodies tangled together; from another angle you can see the woman’s face and the anguish on it; from the third, watch the Roman’s hand sink into her flesh. With her arm raised to the heavens, it seems that at any moment she might wriggle free.

The art historians will tell you that the Mannerist sculpture, completed in 1582, perfectly expresses the deep uncertainties of the late 16th century, compared with the calm confidence of the Renaissance, as seen in Michelangelo’s David across the way. All I can say every time I see the statue is “Wow!”

Oh! And here’s another bonus. A marvellous photograph of the ‘Rape’, with the shadow of Celllini’s Perseus in the background.

Our 2020 creative courses: bookings are flowing in

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, creative writing and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Students on one of Maggie Renner Hellman’s painting courses showing off some of their work.

Update at 15 February 2020

Our 2020 creative courses – painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language — are filling fast: we already have some 240 bookings out of projected total of 250, so now is the time to secure your place You will see below that a fair number of our courses are already booked up, but if you are particularly interested in that specific week, please let us know. There are often cancellations and we will put you on a waiting list and let you know immediately if a place becomes available.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Cool and Green. Picture: Francesco Lastrucci

We do hope we’ll be able to welcome you here on one of our sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring courses. And don’t forget that as well as a warm welcome, we are also Cool and Green! All our bedrooms and public rooms have air-conditioning, all powered by the sun: our hidden array of photovoltaic panels ensures that we are self-sufficient in electricity generation.

Our inspiring painting courses

Carl March

Carl March
18 – 25 April 2020 – one or two places
Drawing and watercolours en plein air
To learn more about Carl and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Grahame Booth

Grahame Booth
25 April – 2 May 2020 – fully booked, waing list open
Watercolours
To learn more about Grahame and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Brienne M Brown

Brienne M Brown – fully booked, waiting list open
16 – 23 May 2020
Watercolours
To learn more about Brienne and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Sandra Strohschein

Sandra Strohschein
30 May – 6 June 2020 – fully booked, waiting list open
6 – 13 June 2020 – fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours
To learn more about Sandra and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Randy Hale

Randy Hale
13 – 20 June 2020 – fully booked, waiting list open
Watercolours
To learn more about Randy and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Vicki Norman

Vicki Norman
20 – 27 June 2020 – fully booked, waiting list open
Oils and watercolours (and other mediums)
To learn more about Vicki and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Mark Warner

Mark Warner
11 – 18 July 2020 – places available
Colourful Acrylics, Drawing, Pen & Wash
To learn more about Mark and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Mike Willdridge

Mike Willdridge
29 August – 5 September 2020 – still a few places
Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)
To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Rebecca de Mendonça

Rebecca de Mendonça
5 – 12 September 2020 – 2/3 places left
Pastels and Mixed media
To learn more about Rebecca and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Maggie Renner Hellmann

Maggie Renner Hellmann
12 – 19 September 2020 – places available places AND 19 – 26 September 2020 – places available
Oils, acrylics, watercolours and pastels
To learn about Maggie’s courses, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Mary Padgett

Mary Padgett
26 September – 3 October 2020  – 2/3 places left
Pastels (and other portable media) en plein air
To learn more about Mary and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Milind Mulick

Milind Mulick
3 – 10 October 2020 – 1/2 places left
Colourful watercolours
To learn more about Milind and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Tim Wilmot

Tim Wilmot
10 – 17 October 2020 – 1/2 places left
Watercolours
To learn more about Tim and his course at the mill, please visit his 2020 Profile Page.


Our enticing knitting courses

Louisa Harding

Louisa Harding
23 – 30 May 2020 – fully booked, waiting list open
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Louisa and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Louisa Harding

Louisa Harding
NEW week 27 June – 4 July – places available
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Louisa and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Knitting retreat

Knitting Retreat
4 – 11 July 2020 – two knitting places left
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about this retreat, please visit our 2020 Retreat Overview Page.


Renée Callahan

Renée Callahan
15 – 22 August 2020  – places available
Knitting and La Bella Vita
To learn more about Renée and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Our enriching 2020 writing courses

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran

Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran
2 – 9 May 2020 – fully booked, waiting list open
Scriptwriting
To learn more about Laurence and Maurice and their course at the mill, please visit their 2020 Profile Page.


Jo Parfitt

Jo Parfitt
2 – 9 May 2020 – one place left
Write the stories of your life
To learn more about Jo and her course at the mill, please visit her 2020 Profile Page.


Our illuminating Italian language course

Francesca la Sala

Langues Services and Francesca la Sala
22 – 29 August 2020 – still a few places
Learning Italian with the Italians
To learn more about Francesca and her
2020 course at the mill, please click here.


The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Shady and cool along the Millstream. Picture: Alistair Macfie

Keep It Simple and Take It with You Everywhere!

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

What is ‘It’? Why, it’s a sketchbook! And, says Watermill painting tutor Mike Willdridge, those two simple tips will not only add to your daily enjoyment, but improve your painting too.

Tip one: Keep It Simple. Mike says: “Choose a sketchbook that fits a pocket/handbag/rucksack etc. and as few pens/pencils/paints as possible.” The picture above is of the basic kit he takes with him everywhere: when going for a walk, enjoying a coffee, or lunch or dinner, or simply sitting in the sun. Mike is currently in Australia, visiting his grandchildren, and here’s a simple sketch of a bicycle made from a café in Manly across the Bay from Sydney:

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Tip two: Take It with You Everywhere. Not just when you are sightseeing or feeding the inner man or woman, but also when your shopping or travelling. Mike says: “It doesn’t matter if you don’t use it at first. You will eventually, but get into the habit of taking your kit with you everywhere you go.”

Mike practises what he preaches, and he will encourage you to do the same when you join his Watermill week this year. Mike will be back with us from Saturday 29 August to Saturday 5 September 2020, and we’d love you to join us for his fun-filled, sun-filled, inspiring week. There are more details and links below. Here is Mike’s sketch of a couple of our guests enjoying animated conversation in the sunlit Watermill courtyard.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Here are a few more of his sketches, made when out ‘on location’ during one of his Watermill courses. Each was painted rapidly, merely to give an impression of the scene.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Mike’s sketch of one of the small wooden bridges across the millstream.

Below is a sketch in the tranquil monastery of the Convento del Carmine, a few miles from the Watermill, where we take you to paint on Thursdays:

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy
Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Mike Willdridge works in a wide range of media and is an enthusiastic and energetic tutor, often encouraging his students to be bold and to take chances. His classes are always light-hearted and fun, with the ‘teaching’ tailored to individual needs. He will concentrate on watercolours, but is also happy to help with gouache and acrylics too.

Some comments from previous guests: “A wonderful holiday. You were such generous and friendly hosts and Mike was an excellent painting tutor.”  Another said: “The food was exceptional and the mill itself is great, in such a beautiful setting. A truly wonderful week in every respect.”

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Fivizzano market, where our painting group go Tuesdays.

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at the watermill: tuition, accommodation (including all linen and towels), pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation (including transfers to Pisa airport and an excursion by train to Lucca or the Cinque Terre). You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest!

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

29 August to 5 September 2020 

Mike Willdridge – three or four places left

Watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics)

To learn more about Mike and his course at The Watermill, please click here.

Come and paint with Mike for creativity, conviviality – and fun