FROM THE CANVAS TO THE DIAL
Established at a time when the art world was going through numerous changes, the Uffizi Gallery remains an object of fascination that has endured the test of time. Today the Watch Museum project is collaborating with this emblematic museum, bringing together history with grace and innovation.
Situated in Florence, the Uffizi has made a remarkable contribution to European history. An iconic building ever since its Renaissance heyday, it symbolizes the power of the Medici family and the incomparable architectural genius of Giorgio Vasari. The palace continues to draw crowds from all over the world, attracted by a living piece of history that is home to many of the world’s greatest marvels and the work of Italy’s most famous artists. An ancient political building that has become a cradle for the arts, the gallery is proof of Florence’s continued status as one of the great artistic capitals.
Almost half a millennium after it was built, the Uffizi still holds a special place in the contemporary cultural world. Witness to an era when Italy was at the forefront of the arts, for centuries its walls have displayed some of the most important works of art ever created: from Paolo Uccello’s Battle of San Romano to Giotto’s Virgin of Ognissanti and Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation. Vincent Calabrese has never previously collaborated with the Uffizi, yet thanks to the determination of the Watch Museum team it is now possible to possess a small fragment of the Italian institution’s treasures. To choose a detail from one of the Uffizi’s paintings is to make a piece of the past your own, uniting a precious fragment of artistic heritage with modern watchmaking of the highest quality that will stand the test of time in style.
Known all over the world, the Musée d’Orsay has quickly developed into an emblematic art institution. In its few decades of existence, the Parisian museum has managed to gather an impressive collection of artworks, with its focus on the last century and the Impressionist movement swiftly captivating an international public. Today the Musée d’Orsay joins the Watch Museum project, making it possible for the independent Swiss watchmaker Vincent Calabrese to unite his work with the most famous artists of the 20th century.
Just like our project, this museum was born from a bold idea: the transformation of an old train station into a massive exhibition space, with a richly decorated ceiling and enormous railway clocks still hanging on its walls. When the painter and illustrator Edouard Detaille declared in 1900 that “this magnificent train station resembles a Palais des Beaux-Arts,” he could not have better guessed the future of this mesmerizing monument. 86 years later, following nine years of construction work, the station became the Musée d’Orsay. The new institution was dedicated to masters active between 1848 and 1914, including Claude Monet and George Seurat. Appropriately enough, today it is a place where the visitor is invited to wander at their leisure, without any final destination.
The relative youth of the museum diminishes neither its prestige nor its beauty. One of the world’s leading collections of late 19th- and early 20th-century art, the Musée d’Orsay’s collaboration with Watch Museum brings its remarkable paintings face-to-face with Vincent Calabrese’s innovative watch design. This partnership reminds us of the prophecy of Edouard Detaille, who would certainly have loved to wander the museum with one of its masterpieces strapped to his wrist.
Located in the heart of the Spanish capital, the Prado Museum amazes its visitors with its collection gathering pieces of emblematic artists such as Goya, Jheronimus Bosch, or Caravaggio. Following the wish of queen Marie-Isabelle of Portugal, this building was transformed in 1819 into an art museum. Expanded along the years by the successors of the royal family, the museum gathers one of the most important collection of Italian, Spanish and Flemish paintings.
Created in 1929 in New York City, the museum is dedicated to European art from 1880. A genuine visual journey throughout European Art History, the MoMA gathers one of the most important collection of modern art. Adding to paintings and sculptures, the museum also hosts many objects coming from industrial design, but also photography, offering a real chronology of the evolution of art in Europe. Among their many master pieces, we can find a so called Starry Night…
Certainly one of the most famous art museum, known all over the world, the Louvre and its intriguing pyramid flourishing in the heart of the French capital does not need to be introduced anymore. Home of De Vinci’s Mona Lisa, conservation site of some of the most famous art pieces, this museum which used to be a royal palace, changed its purpose after the French Revolution, which planted the seeds of one of the most important fine art institution of modern times.
The history of the British institution starts off with two art collectors passionated by European and national art, John Julius Angerstein and Sir George Beaumont. Collecting hundreds of paintings and treasures coming from Italy, the Netherlands, but also from Great Britain, they both promised to bequeath their belongings to the country after their deaths. Their only wish was for the collection to be exhibited in the most exceptional building of London. When looking at the museum we know that their wish has been respected, and up until now the museum continues to expand its exceptional collection.
This « institution » might not be a museum, nevertheless it is still a must see for all lovers of Italian art and architecture. Built in the heart of the Vatican, in Rome, this monumental chapel, was opulently redecorated at the end of the 15th century by order of Pope Sixtus IV, and has stayed one of the most magnificent sacred monument thanks to its size and decor. Many painters were part of this project, such as Perugino and Botticelli, and obviously Michel-Angelo who was asked by Pope Julius II to partly redecorate the chapel in 1508.
1) The Spring
Maybe the most famous art piece showed in the Uffizi in Florence, Botticelli’s Spring is also most certainly a talisman of 15th century Italian art. In a blossoming undergrowth, nine characters flied over by a Cupid with his arc in hands, give life to an allegoric painting where symbols and allusions towards Neoplatonism are numerous, hence aimed at a scholarly audience. But above its signification, The Spring is a poetic painting where nature and human life are graciously intertwined. On the forest’s ground, no less than 190 different plant species have been identified, all of them corresponding to the Florentine area, and known to be blooming specifically during Spring time. An erudite painting full of poetry inviting us to look at its every details.
2) The Battle of San Romano
This canvas painted by the Italian artist Paolo Uccello constitues the center of a triptych realized around the year 1438, today exhibited in three European museums. Firenze and the Uffizi kept the central part of the art work, where is depicted the fall of Bernardo della Ciarada during the battle. The canvas is crowded, eventful, details are numerous, one on top of the other, giving life to the scene thanks to its contrasted colors, leading us to take a second look at the elements executed in a gothic style where fantasy and History are intensely intertwined.
3) The Birth of Venus
One of art history finest pieces, this painting by Sandro Botticelli pictures the mythological event of goddess Venus’ birth, and will become one of his most famous creation. The goddess’ faces and body known today all over the world, became a common image of the contemporary culture, putting this art piece onto another level of recognition. On the canvas, a rather refined composition at first sight, yet once we get our eyes off of Venus’s body and face, we discover many details hidden within the painting. The sea and its shells, the allegory of Spring, the Zephyr’s breath, make of this painting a real quest for details. Holding a main place in the composition, each one of them contributes to this magical scene. Botticelli’s connoisseur will easily recognize in Venus’ face the features of his adored muse, Simonetta Vespucci, whom he considered an ideal of femininity.
4) The Circus
Part of a series of three paintings where the French painter Georges Seurat had the ambition to represent the entertainments of the modern city, The Circus constitues the last piece of this series. Through this painting, the artist manages to represent the scene but also its sensations: laughs, movements, good spirit. The rounded shapes, but also the bright colors, bring all the dynamism to the scene, hence representing the madness and joy of the circus, but also its effects on the spectators. This very popular subject of the last part of the 19th century reaches its paroxysm in this art work where the unique touch of Seurat brings each and every detail to a new light.
5) The Blue Waterlilies
The subject of the waterlilies has become emblematic of Claude Monet’s career. Painted over three years, this art work was inspired by the pond of his Giverny’s house, one of his most represented subject. In this version, the painter chose to focus on pastel colors, cutting out the rest of the landscape and only representing the pond. Talking about his series of waterlilies, Monet wrote « I once again chose to represent an impossible subject: plants moving in the steady stream of slowly agitated waters ». What makes this specific version so peculiar is its focal point, the impression that he zoomed in and ended up at the border between figuration and abstraction. A small crowd of emblematic flowers moving along the most famous pond ever represented in Art History.
6) The Garden of Earthly Delights
This enigmatic painting surely calls for us to come closer, and get lost into it. Still today, The Garden of Earthly Delights keeps fascinating art historians, whom are still trying to to fully understand this complex art work, where strange and disturbing details are its multiple keys. A confusing mix between a religious painting representing the human race’s decay following the original sin, and a symbolic art piece which would inspire generation of artists, even still today in contemporary art. The Dutch painter’s three parts painting is still a mystery, and it is certainly our inability to fully understand its whole and its surprising details that makes it such a unique art piece in art history.
7) Starry Night
Much more than a simple landscape, this canvas painted by Vincent van Gogh is a culmination in the artist’s life and career. In many of his letters, the Dutch painter expresses his desire to paint a starry night, and it is finally in Septembre 1889 that his project comes to life. For Van Gogh, this canvas had to be one of the most exceptional landscape painting for its light effects and its reflections. Writing to his sister the year he painted Starry Night, the artist declares « for me it feels like the night is even richer than daytime ». The obsession that was this subject became the talisman of his career, an art work where detail plays with blurriness, where the stars offer an infinite reflexion and invite us to dream of an endless night.
8) The Dream
Forerunner of the Art Naïf movement, considered by many as the artist who paved the way to Surrealism, Douanier Rousseau leads us into his lush dream, one of his most famous painting. The thick vegetation in which beasts, strange plants, and a musician hiding within the jungle, is filled with details as exotic as they are aesthetic. The woman, who happened to be Yadwigha, the artist’s muse, seems to be the one at the origin of the dream. This art piece has been created at a time where Freud’s studies on dream were starting to be spread, and the muse lying down on the sofa could be the one opening her mind, and sharing her deepest and most secret fantaisies and dreams with the spectator. But even without this interpretation, The Dream is before anything else a rich and detailed art piece, taking us into a marvelous and exotic universe.
Second canvas of a four part series entitled The Four Seasons, Summer takes the features of a man’s face, constituted of fruits and vegetables growing during that specific season. Ordered to the portrait artist by emperor Maximilien II of Habsbourg, this painting and its series became emblematic of portraits in art history, proposing a reading on several levels. If seasons are a representation of time going by, in this specific case they also picture the aging of a man, how his face evolves according to time, until his decay. This link between human life and nature is typical of the Renaissance era philosophy, and this specific art work holds a mosaic of details where nature and the human race melt into one another in the most aesthetically manner.
10) The Wedding at Cana
Master of scenography, colors, and modernity, Paul Veronese revolutionized its time thanks to this one of a kind representation of the biblical scene. Intertwining Venetian’s modern life to the codes of an ancient time, his representation of Christ’s first miracle, a particularly sacred episode of the biblical texts, is undoubtedly revolutionary in itself. In the details we find the symbols of the Passion of Christ, while beside them contemporary silverware and furnitures are displayed, uniting the sacred and the profane onto one single canvas. In this complex composition, details are numerous, whether they are focused around the vivid colors, the drapes of the clothes, the architectural and decorative elements, the canvas is a gold mine for all details lovers.
11) Allegory of the Triumph of Venus
Today freely displayed on the walls of the National Gallery in London, this painting was firstly created for a private setting. Ordered by François 1st, this representation of Venus was supposed to only be seen by the king’s closest acquaintances, allowing the painter to cross the borders of morality, erotism, and ambiguity rather freely at the time. A real enigma, this art work still holds many questions for art historians. Venus and Cupid kissing while being fully naked refers to love, its pleasures and its pains, but also questions the morality of this feeling. With this unashamed celebration of carnal sins, Bronzino still managed to give a certain morality to his creation, with the addition of the Time and Oblivion allegories which are just about to cover the naked bodies with a veil.
12) Adam and Eve, detail of the Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel decorated by Michel-Angelo abounds with details we can only count by hundreds. In this mosaic of murals just as numerous as they are spectacular, we find the representation of a major event in biblical texts, being the original sin of Adam and Eve, and their exclusion from Paradise. In this fragment of the chapel’s decor, we can clearly identify that Michel-Angelo was first and foremost a sculptor before he became a painter. The representation of muscles, of flesh, of bodies with a perfectly accurate anatomy, demonstrate the greatness of the Italian artist. Not only did he illustrate the sacred texts, he brought them to life, in their greatest and smallest details.