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Nice Statues – Shame about the Facades… 16/04/2011

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c. 1800 relating to a visit at the end of the eighteenth century

Few cities in Europe of the same size as Florence offer so fine a field of amusement to those who are fond of churches, palaces, public buildings. But the lovers of architecture will be shocked to find several of the finest churches without fronts, which, according to some, is owing to a real deficiency of money; while others assert, they are left in this condition as a pretext for levying contributions to finish them. The chapel of St. Lorenzo is, perhaps, the finest and most expensive habitation that ever was reared for the dead. It is encrusted with precious stones, and adorned with tlic workmanship of the best modern sculptors. Some complain that it has a gloomy appearance. There seems to be no impropriety in that, considering what the building was intended for.  

The statues which ornament the streets and squares of Florence amount to about one hundred and fifty; many of them of exquisite workmanship, and admired by those of the best taste. Churches, and palaces, and statues are no doubt ornamental to a city; and the princes are praiseworthy who have taken pains to rear and collect them; but the greatest of all ornaments are cheerful happy living countenances. The taste is not general; but there are some people, who, to a perfect knowledge and unaffected love of the fine arts, join a passion for a collection of this kind, who cannot without uneasiness see one face in a different style, and whose lives and fortunes are employed in smoothing the corrosions of penury and misfortune, and restoring the onginal air of satisfaction and cheerfulness ro the human countenance. Happy the people whose sovereign is inspired with this species of vertu!

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