The portrait of Battista Sforza and Federico da Montefeltro, painted by Piero della Francesca in 1467, is perhaps one of the most beautiful Italian landscape paintings seen from the balcony.
The Dukes of Urbino look out in profile over a landscape as far as the eye can see, which seems to float in the warm light, at an unspecified time of the day. The dialectical relationship between art and nature is at the basis of the 'garden phenomenon’. The encounter between art and nature gives life to a third element: the ‘art of gardening’, a perfect union of artistic ideals and cultivation skills. With this comes the creation of the 'curative' gesture of the gardener, an activity that began to spread right during the Renaissance.
In this period of forced closure, the balconies and small green spaces in the house play a fundamental role for survival. Let the garden entering into the house basically means opening up to new knowledge, understanding and discovery of new landscapes. In this period, from the balconies of our houses, there are notes and new friendships growing. Set between indoor and outdoor space, the terrace is an essential way to enjoy the open air, to get out of the house. Today it has become the most useful place to overcome forced domestic claustrophobia.
The history of the balcony dates back to the time of the ancient Middle East. It was in fact the Persians and the Egyptians who used it for ceremonial purposes, as a place from which the kings or the priests could easily be seen. The best examples of artistic balconies can be found during the Renaissance architecture, created for Roman aristocratic families. Such as Palazzo Farnese, whose balcony is designed by Michelangelo, or Palazzo Montecitorio, whose façade was commissioned to Bernini in 1653.
Balcony comes from the Germanic 'balko' or wooden stage. In the videos and chats of these days there is an interesting variety and at the same time an elegance of domestic landscapes. Vernacular stages arise, in which botany and design have become an affordable exercise for everyone. In the home garden we often act by instinct, creating small compositions with branches and flowers gathered here and there, using forgotten objects, like old bottles, jugs, ceramic vases.
Through actions of domestic gardening, on the balcony, on the windowsill or above a table, our homes are transformed into a garden, a forest, a carpet of tones and scents. Green is a therapeutic colour, which gives strength and feels good. In alchemy it symbolizes balance, harmony and serenity. Besides having a calming effect, this colour favours the right contact with nature and with our deepest soul. In reality every little green corner in the house is a room, an archipelago of sensations and beauty, and therefore deserves the same attention as all the other rooms.
The garden is the place of welcome and gratitude. For the buds that suddenly open, for the small flowers still pale, for the silkiness of the leaves and their endless palette of greens. And for all the things that we didn't expect and that surprise us. In this period, reading the writings of the famous French garden designer and agronomist Gilles Clément, helps to deepen the concept:
The one who takes care of a garden lives in the surprise. A surprise often joyful, that removes nostalgia and negative feelings. A surprise that raises to a higher mental landscape of hope.
(Gilles Cléments, Des jardins et des hommes, Ed. Bayard Culture, 2016)