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The builders of Florence by J. Wood Brown
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The builders of Florence

by J. Wood Brown

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My copy of The builders of Florence is an original, rare and highly collectable work, first published in 1907. It has become a classic work on the history of the city of Florence and has also been published in kindle, e books and in paperback. The text is thus readily available. But this particular book is rare because it is a beautifully produced book - thick pages, deckle edges, gilded top edge, cloth gold embossed cover, a tissue guard over the title illustration. The text is by J Wood Brown and there are 74 delicate pen and ink illustrations by Herbert Railton. The book must weigh over 3 pounds. So on looks alone you will fall for this book. But sadly I see that so often copies offered on the internet have been stripped of their fine illustrations ( perfect for framing and decorating a study). It is 431 pages long. In every way this is a substantial book that became a classic book on Florence's buildings and architecture. So much has changed in Florence, but here captured within its covers is a study of what Florence was like before the first World War. The text, strong on description in its own right becomes the vehicle for the illustrations. This book starts with a chapter on the Substance of Florence, shifts to the spirit, then the form before digging deep into the architecture of the city and its origins and the origins in the defensive tower of the medieval era and its ultimate evolution into a palazzo, the loggia, the sporti and the terrazza. Since the Florentine style of domestic architecture has been hugely influential in other countries a modern architecture student will benefit instantly from the overview of city architecture. The second part of the book presents several chapters on Florentine commerce, followed by a section on Florence's great churches . Finally state buildings and the politics behind the monumental architecture of the city is dissected. I love the small detailed drawings of ironwork, piers, interiors, galleries,tombstones, sculptured lions as well as views of entire buildings or perspectives of streets. This is a serious and heavy work but the author and the artist must have had fun all those decades ago capturing Florentine architecture and atmosphere as it was over a hundred years ago and through these illustrations taking us back to Florence of the 13th and 14th centuries. You can almost touch the House of Dante here and imagine what it was like to live here in 1350. The book is not at all a guide book - but it is a book to savour and explore before your pilgrimage to Florence and then to enjoy again when you return home. I urge you to keep seeking a copy of the original work and make it a prime book in your rare, behind glass doors book cabinet. It is a book that captures art, history, literature and the spirit of the place. It earns 5 stars because it is just a quite beautiful book which has survived in such good condition. ( )
1 vote Africansky1 | Jan 28, 2014 |
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