Santa Croce is one of the most famous churches in the world, appreciated for its superb Gothic architecture, its paintings by Giotto and pupils, its antiquity -it dates back to the XIII/XIV centuries- but mostly for its tombs: Michelangelo Buonarroti, the scientist-philosopher Galileo Galilei, the author Niccolò Machiavelli, and many more are entombed here. Gioacchino Rossini the musician is buried here too, in a tomb sculptured by Giuseppe Cassioli, on the right-hand side of the church.
You may like Rossini's music, but you don't know that he took part in a sort of scam involving poor Édouard André, a very well-known art historian, collector and curator, co-founder of Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris..!
Giovanni Bastianini, a notorious, incredibly skilled sculpture counterfeiter, had carved a little statue depicting a “Florentine singer”, a chanteuse florentine, and wanted to sell it as an artwork from the 1400s . Hand in glove with some antiquarian, at last he succeeded to deceive Édouard André into believing the piece of art dated back to the Renaissance time, somehow helped by the musician. Rossini had embellished all this declaring that, according to him, “this adorable statuette...does not sing my cavatina Di Tanti Palpiti, which made Venetians happy in 1813; she hums a melody by the celebrated composer Ludrone, who was born in Padua in 1500; that means (thank God) that she does not sing the seductive music of the future”..!
Giovanni Bastianini, indeed as skilled as any Renaissance sculptor, used to be the terror of important museum directors: some of his Renaissance-like artworks were acquired (and paid their weight in gold) by the Louvre, the V&A Museum in London, the National Gallery in Washington D.C. and the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Florence...which you can tour with me, to discover Florence off the most beaten track!