The artist who shaped the myth of the Renaissance
A Michelangelo art tour in Florence means knowing not only the events of a great artist who created his first masterpieces in this town – the cradle of the Renaissance – but also meeting the genius who shaped the myth of the Renaissance.
It is precisely in Florence where Michelangelo took his first steps; a pupil in the workshop of the painter Ghirlandaio, the young artist soon showed particular attention to sculpture as evidenced by his early Florentine works.
Our Michelangelo tour in Florence starts from the Accademia Gallery, among the most important museums in Florence, where we will be able to contemplate the first great Michelangelo’s masterpiece: the David, the original one.
The visit to Michelangelo’s David
Preceded by a suggestive gallery – created specifically in the nineteenth-century to welcome and prepare the students of Art Academy and art-loving visitors at the sight of the monumental marble sculpture –, the view of Michelangelo’s David will captivate you from afar, the story of its genesis instead it will win you over.
The great figure of the David, which came out from Buonarroti’s chisel after some artists before him tried in vain to do so, is a supreme creation of the whole history of art; «who sees this work», wrote the artist and biographer Giorgio Vasari:
do not bother to see another work of sculpture done in our times or in others by any artist…
The Florence Cathedral and its mysterious link with the David …
After having contemplated this monumental marble sculpture, we will also see the other artist’s works kept in the Museum, such as the gigantic statues of the Prisoners, figures destined to the Pope Julius II’s tomb in Rome and ‘never finished’ by the master… Our tour of Michelangelo’s art in Florence then continues outwards, in direction of the place where once stood the San Marco Gardens. This was the laboratory where the young Michelangelo got interested in the study of classical statuary for the first time and where he was observed by the great art patron Lorenzo the Magnificent. It was right there where the young artist, just on the boosting of Lorenzo the Magnificent, did an extraordinary thing …
If you choose the 3-hour route we will also be able to visit the “Sagrestia Nuova” (New Sacristy), an almost mystical place of the Medici Chapels where you can admire the sublime allegories of Day, Night, Dawn and Twilight. You will be able to admire these immense masterpieces of the Florentine sculptor up close and we will see together in which historical circumstances these works, apparently distorted in the Medici commission, were created by the great genius.
Then walking around the Cathedral we discover where Michelangelo carved the David, the large statue already seen in the Accademia Gallery. One of the most interesting things you will discover is the reason because Buonarroti had to sculpt the biblical prophet figure nearby the Cathedral: almost no one knows that “the giant” – the way Florentines called the David statue – was intended precisely to decorate the Cathedral of Florence. We will find out where the statue would be originally positioned …
A work made without seeing it …
After having uncovered all the mysteries about the David, we move on our tour of Michelangelo’s art in Florence by reaching the Signoria Square. In the political core of Florence, dominated by the bulk of Palazzo Vecchio, is where we find a faithful copy of the original David. But Piazza della Signoria also preserves another work by the artist: it is not a full-relief sculpture but a relief on the wall. The interesting thing about this work is that Michelangelo made it without seeing what he was doing since he was turned away. We will find out why and where Michelangelo – among the many important commissions in which he was engaged at the time – would have sculpted a work turned from the back.
The Visit of Casa Buonarroti
We end our fascinating Michelangelo art tour in Florence with the visit of the Casa Buonarroti museum, the residence that belonged to the artist’s family. The visit of this museum-house will surprise you both for the fact that it preserves interesting works by Michelangelo and for the wonderful decoration of the rooms that make it one of the most beautiful residences in the city.
Among the exceptional artworks here preserved, Michelangelo’s two well-known early works worth seeing: the Madonna della Scala, a wonderful and tender reworking of the Marian subject in which the artist also pays homage to Donatello’s art for the use of the so-called “stiacciato“; the other extraordinary marble work here kept is the Centauromachia, a sublime example of high relief in which the artist profoundly energizes the bodies, involved in the struggle and in the full of their tension.
In addition to this, what is found in the Buonarroti house is a beautiful cycle of paintings dedicated to the great artistic achievements of the master, from his first Florentine works to the ‘glory in life’ earned in Rome when he attended to the imposing San Peter Basilica’s dome building.
It can be said that Vasari’s words cited above about the David still resonate as current, since after you have admired the artist’s works by this tour – or even the others present in the Sacrestia Nuova of San Lorenzo –, you will have got to discover the reasons because Michelangelo Buonarroti’s myth has originated.