Have you ever heard about this particular kind of paintings called ” Grotesques ” ?
The name takes origin from Nerone’s Domus Aurea in Rome just discovered by the artists at that time – Raffaello & Michelangelo went inside to see them – in the underground that looked like a grotto .
Affreschi di Alessandro Allori
These special kind of frescoes were commissioned by Francesco I dei Medici – Cosimo’s I son – in the second half of the XVI along with fantasy characters and symbolic meaning.
Almost at the end of the first corridor I found out this one : a thoughtful man ( probably just Francesco I himself , who was suffering by depression ) with his foot on a globe and around him the natural remedies for the so called “melancholy”.
…and so , which were the natural remedies of people living in the Renaissance period ?
You could see them in the four rectangular scenes depicted around the central oval one.
Lytic stones : the main character in these “grottesche” is an old man who suggest remedies to sick people:
in this scene a lady just came out from the disease (notice the stretcher behind her) she is wearing a lytic ring as it was believed some particular stones could have a therapeutic effect on mind ( even Francesco I studied and was passionate about minerals)
Herbal extracts : in this scene the sick man is laying on some curative plants that were believed to be very helpful against melancholy
Water : the old man urges the sick man to drink water : so, another natural element necessary to purify body & mind.
Sport : the old man playing ball with the young , sick man.
The importance of the sport to fight against the so called ” black bile” = melancholy.
The author of these stunning images is Alessandro Allori ( 1535 -1607 ) a very well known painter at the Medici court of which you could find other paintings in the Uffizi Gallery and in Palazzo Pitti.
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