Posted on Nov 20, 2011 | 0 comments

My favorite city is Florence, Italy. I go as often as I am able. This little story tells how very naive I used to be.

There is a Renaissance building called “Ospedale degli Innocenti” It is on one side of the beautiful Piazza Santissima Annunziata designed by Brunelleschi. The exterior has numerous medallions by Andrea della Robbia in the classic blue background with white figure. Each medallion is a baby in swaddling clothes. My very first trip, I went to see the della Robbia babies. I used to include a della Robbia work in my art tours and wanted to see one in situ, on the outside of a building. The effect on the building is beautiful. They are worth a detour to see.

This building was constructed as the first foundling hospital in Europe, very civilized those Renaissance Florentines. I used to refer to this building as an example of those very good qualities, even though I knew these powerful men to be generally quite ruthless. There is a rota (turning box) on one side (since closed) of the building. It was constructed to receive orphan babies. The idea was that the child could be placed anonymously, with no repercussions.

Of course, there were really no secrets. The story was that the wealthy men of Florence supported the children this orphanage. I used to think, how very generous and caring. Well of course, now I know. These weren’t just any children. These men were supporting their own children born to their own servants, sometimes to literally save their own soul. I was told this by some Florentine acquaintances, apparently I was the only person in Florence who did not know this.

Although the children’s quarters are not open to the public, I got in. The children were separated by sex. The quarters were quite spartan, although the building also houses lavish “donations” by these men to the Servite Convent, whose members cared for these children.

“Sins of the Fathers” is based on some drawings I made on this last trip.


Sins of the Fathers


Mixed media; Pastel, ink, acrylic paint, copper & silver wire, found objects on Handmade paper


41 1/4″ x 31″x 2″deep wood frame

© Karen Love Cooler      All works are for sale. Please contact me using the form on my contact page for further information.

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