Friday, February 26, 2010

A Fascination with Grottoes.....

Boboli Gardens Florence, Italy

Grottoes have always fascinated me. The word grotto comes from the Italian grotta- or cave. So simply, a grotto is a cave.

This is the entrance to the Boboli Gardens grotto in Florence, Italy. Leave it to an artist to not leave well enough alone and go and tweak mother nature! Artificial garden grottoes, such as the Boboli gardens were conceived in the 16th century. Artists took the concepts of stalactites, shells and mythological figures and glorified them in these false grottos.

This is why I have always wanted a grotto....a garden grotto with stalactite sheep and mythological figures emerging from the calcium carbonate formations against faded fresco walls....who wouldn't want a grotto after seeing this?

An artist's interpretation of a grotto...with classical urns and fountains, frescoes and large clam shells formed by man, not nature....

Even the ceilings in the Boboli gardens are examples of controlled nature...dripping sections of della robbia frame the painted panels.

Boboli gardens ceiling

Such a perfect combination of man's ability and nature's best!

The romancing of nature-combining sculpture with found objects, always linking to the ocean and water.

Carlo Marchiori has a modern grotta on the grounds of his home Ca' Toga in California. Carlo created his home and all architecture to give the illusion of Italian ruins. This shot shows the oculus dome inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. The grotta is made from woven rebar, metal mesh, abalone shells and "hundreds of buckets of concrete mix."(quote from Festa Veneziana a Ca'Toga)

I took these photos in Rome ten years ago....sculptures on Via XX Settembre...mythological subjects with grotto style renderings.

It would be a few years later before I would go to Florence and became totally smitten with grottoes.

Man continues to imitate nature...this is a stalactite ceiling done in plaster in the early turn of the 20th century in the United States.

...and the fascination continues with this recent installation in the U.N.'s Palace of Nations ceiling by Spanish painter Miquel Barcelo.

Maybe if I snag an incredible grotto chair like this one from Michaelsamantiques I will be satisfied.....for a while!


Cashon&Co said...

Wow. Wow!!!! This was soooo cool! I'm amazed at the talent of some artists. I'm going to go read it once more.

La Dolfina said...

Your speaking my language!!
Grotto me big time!! Somehow, some way I will create a grotto of my own.
I adore them!! Just like you said..."the romancing of nature-combining sculpture with found objects, always linking to the ocean and water, is what makes them so magical. I like to refer to my home as the Museum of Natural History. I think I'd like to someday refer to my backyard as "the grotto"!
That man in California, Carlo, has an amazing grotto... I've been collecting abalone shells. Would you happen to have his number (hehe)
Thank you Theresa for such a wonderful post!! Your blog is fabulous!

Theresa Cheek said...

Grottoes were used to escape the heat....the decoration came naturally as the popularity increased.

My Castle in Spain said...

I love Barcelo's work...and oh the Boboli gardens must be one of my future destinations !
I get a bit nervous in a grotto but i must admit the ambiance is quite magical. (can't help thinking if Visconti's movie Ludwig and the grotto scenes in gondola)
Fabulous post !
Have a great week end Theresa !

Unknown said...

So interesting! very decadent and not very practical inside.. but certainly a very moody style. Love it. Tres Bien!Merci.

ceecee said...

Amazing! I have the book of Ca'Toga and was reading it this week. I just put it back on the shelf this morning. Something strange is always happening to me in Blog-Ville!

Happy weekend, Theresa,

P.S. Your plans for a day in Venice were my favorite of all.

Theresa Cheek said...

Lala-Gondola and grottoes....there is a book title in there somewhere! LOL!
JAD-The grottoes were practical in the beginning used to escape heat...the ornamental aspect came with a rise in popularity.

Catherine-CaToga is one of my favorites!
I will join you anytime in Venice! ;)

lotusgreen said...

these images are really interesting.

are they ever scary?

Theresa Cheek said...

LOL! Lotus! I don't think they are scary. They are not meant to be creepy or scary....just a *cave* kinda way ;)

Lynne Rutter said...

i nearly did this to my bathroom years ago. then i got sidetrack by the grotto's sister, the shell room.
do a post on shell rooms will you next??

Johanna Spinks said...

enjoyed your blog very much. you might like mine too, 365 Days of Drawing, All Things French.

Theresa Cheek said...

Oh Lynne, I planned this out for my bathroom last year and decided there would be no way to clean it...I just couldn't commit all that work....yet...!! I will find a place to do this eventually!!


Mélanie A. said...

I love your interesting posts. The grotto chair looks fabulous.The atmosphere in it is so magical

*Chic Provence* said...

Very atmospheric! and interesting shots, thanks for sharing..


Theresa Cheek said...

Melanie-thanks for stopping by.

Kit-I do think they are wonderful!!

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