We were in Tuscany last week for our first proper holiday in ages. I’d been to Florence before but nowhere else so we spent a day each in Pisa, San Gimignano, Siena & Lucca eating gelato and being tourists. Most of the cities are built from brick with stone reserved for the grander public buildings. The use of a dark and light marble in horizontal bands gives the churches such a bold presence, the clean-cut white stone making crisp shadows in the strong sunlight. The pattern is forgiving of crude repairs and the patched surfaces record the passing of the centuries. I like the large expanses of flat stonework between areas of fine detailing, the way a wall manages to simultaneously express both monumental scale, precise form and delicate refinement.
Ben Nicholson’s drawings capture those aspects of the architecture with beautiful simplicity. His choice of which lines to draw, what to simplify and what to leave out is very personal and stylised but it creates a highly evocative image of the place. I have included a couple below.