I have talked of the food in Florence, yes the food was a life changing experience for us, we ouu'd and ahh'd our way through every single meal. The food was incredibly memorable, but you see the reason we traveled to Florence from the very beginning was because of the art. Oh the art !! I could write at least a dozen blog posts about the art in Florence. After all it was the birth place of the Renaissance, that is, thanks to a man unknown to me until a few years ago. Cosimo de Medici has been called the godfather of the Renaissance for good reason, he and his families contributions and patronage to countless artists in Europe created an industry of sorts that kept artists working and creating for over 3 generations. Cosimo is alone responsible for Filippo Brunelleschi's dome, but that is a story for later. The list of artists given patronage by the Medici's include, Bernini, Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli and Donatello to name just a few.
Cosimo de Medici
Of all the art of Florence, even above Michelangelo's David, my heart was stopped, no captured forever, by the frescoes of Benozzo Gozzoli's Chapel of the Magi. The Medici's power and wealth was vast and this chapel was created to show all who visited it that they were as close to God as one could come. Commissioned by Piero de Medici, the chapel in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi was the families private chapel for prayer and service. The brilliant trick to these frescoes was that in the faces of the crowd proceeding with the magi and in fact the magi themselves are those of the Medici's and their most loyal friends. Brilliant !!
There is no natural light in this small family chapel perhaps that explains the vivid colors that remain in the frescoes. The queue begins in the courtyard of the palazzo and only 15 people are permitted in the room at time for a maximum of 10 minutes. Blessed beyond words, on the day we were visiting the queue was none existent ! On our first trip through we were with 5 other people, when we exited and arrived back in the courtyard the docent told us we were welcome to see the chapel again if we liked. Brian and I had a full 20 minutes to ourselves in this magnificent room, except for the attendant in a small nook keeping an eye on us. No pictures ! and as guests in this country we always followed the rules. Our answer to not having any photos to cherish was to buy several books in the gift shop, support the Palazzo and take some treasures home.
There is endless speculation regarding who the faces belong to in these frescoes, names long lost, perhaps the favorite gardener or cook, or the occasional illegitimate son, many have been identified beyond dispute including several of the Medici's and the artist Gozzoli himself. This was not an unusual practice for the artists of this era, Botticelli's image was added to several of his works and Raphael made it a major practice to honor outstanding figures of his time in his frescoes in the Vatican apartments (yet another wonderful tale to tell).
Can you find the corresponding faces in the fresco above ?
Cosimo de Medici (in the red cap)
Piero de Medici
Lorenzo de Medici
The artist himself Benozzo Gozzoli