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Tuesday 16 July 2019
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The "Studiolo" of Francesco I

The construction of the "Studiolo" from 1570 to 1575, to a design by court architect and painter Giorgio Vasari with the assistance of the scholar Vincenzo Borghini, was commissioned by Francesco de' Medici who had taken over from his father Cosimo I in 1564 as regent of the Duchy of Tuscany.

This small study was part of the duke's private apartments and was accessible only from his bedroom, which was situated on the opposite side to the doorway now leading into the Salone dei Cinquecento (this doorway did not exist until the 19th century).  The study's location and structure are both typical of this kind of room, which was a common feature of princely courts from the Middle Ages on and was generally set aside not only for study but also to house the smallest and most precious family heirlooms, shown only to select visitors.

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Francesco I had it built specifically to keep "certain of his things" there, and the "little room", as it was then called, was designed to resemble "a wardrobe of items rare and precious both in their value and in their art such as jewels, medals, engraved stones, worked crystal and vases, mechanical devices and such like, not too large, placed in their own cabinets, each of its own kind".  These cabinets are built into the thickness of the masonry along the lower register of the four walls behind oval paintings which, with their frames, act as the cabinets' doors.  Borghini's programme provided for each side of the "Studiolo" to be devoted to one of the four natural elements, with the cabinets on each wall housing those items deemed to belong to the relevant category.  For instance, carved bones or engraved stones would be classified under the heading "earth", liquors, glass and forged metals under "fire", crystal under "air" and pearls under the heading "water".

The decoration of the doors, and of the upper register in slate slabs alternating with bronze statues in niches, reflected the cabinets' contents with scenes from the Bible, with mythological and historical scenes, or with allegories and genre scenes all alluding to the nature of the items within.

Thus the entire iconographical programme of the "Studiolo" is devoted to celebrating the kinship between Art and Nature in accordance with the personal interests of Francesco I, who is remembered not so much for his good government as for his passionate interest in the sciences and for the perseverance with which he personally engaged in the practice of alchemy, for his study of "occult" phenomena, and for various other experimental activities ranging from fusing glass to seeking the formula for producing porcelain.

The heart of the iconographic programme coincides with the fresco decoration on the vault.  This depicts a cosmogramme, with the personification of Nature in its centre holding out a precious stone to Prometheus, who represents Art in his capacity as the inventor of gems and rings.  Set around this centrepiece are allegories of the four elements (earth, water, air and fire), of the four qualities (cold, damp, hot, dry), of the four humours of man (melancholic, phlegmatic, sanguine and choleric), and of the four seasons (in the lunettes, alongside portraits of Francesco's parents).

This room's special charm owes a great deal both to the originality of the programme and to the unique combination of the work of fully thirty-one different artists, almost all of whom were members of Florence's Accademia del Disegno.  The artists were commissioned to translate the programme into paint in competition with one another, a peculiarity which has made the "Studiolo" a unique compendium of Florentine late Mannerist art, with works by some of the most famous painters and sculptors of the period, including Vasari himself, Alessandro Allori, Giovanni Stradano, Bartolomeo Ammannati and Giambologna.

Earth

 

Water

 

Air

 

Fire

 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 27 28 24 25 26 23

Terra

1 A. Allori, Ritratto di Cosimo I

Terra

2 D. Poggini, Plutone

Terra

3 J.Zucchi, La miniera

Terra

4 B. Ammannati, Opi

Terra

5 B. Traballesi, Danae e la pioggia d'oro

Terra

6 A. del Minga, Deucalione e Pirra

Terra

7 S. Marsili, Atlanta e Ippomene

Acqua

8 S. Lorenzi, Anfitrite

Acqua

9 G.Vasari, Perseo e Andromeda

Acqua

10 S. di Tito, Il passaggio del Mar Rosso

Acqua

11 G.B. Naldini, La pesca della balena

Acqua

12 S. di Tito, Le sorelle di Fetonte

Acqua

13 M. Cavalori, Il lanificio

Acqua

14 A. Allori, La pesca delle perle

Acqua

15 V. Danti, Venere

Acqua

16 F. Poppi, Alessandro dona Capaspe ad Apelle

Acqua

17 C. Portelli, Nettuno e Anfitrite

Acqua

18 M. Cavalori, Lavinia all'ara

Acqua

19 G. Stradano, Ulisse, Mercurio e Circe

Acqua

20 G.B. Naldini, L'allegoria dei sogni

Acqua

21 A. Allori, Il banchetto di Cleopatra

Acqua

22 F. del Coscia, Giunone riceve il cinto di Venere

Aria

23 A. Allori, Ritratto di Eleonora di toledo

Aria

24 G.bandini, Giunone

Aria

25 M. da San Friano, La ricerca dei diamanti

Aria

26 E. Candido, Borea

Aria

27 G.M. Butteri, La scoperta di vetro

Aria

28 M. da San Friano, Dedalo e Icaro

Fuoco

29 Giambologna, Apollo

Fuoco

30 G. Macchietti, I bagni termali

Fuoco

31 J. Coppi, L'invenzione della polvere da sparo

Fuoco

32 G.M. Butteri, La vetreria

Fuoco

33 A. Fei, La bottega dell'orefice

Fuoco

34 G. Stradano, La bottega dell'alchimista

Fuoco

35 F. Poppi, La fonderia dei bronzi

Fuoco

36 V. de' Rossi, Vulcano

Fuoco

37 G. Fedini, L'anello di Policrate

Fuoco

38 G. Macchietti, Medea ringiovanisce Esone

Fuoco

39 L. della Sciorina, Ercole e il drago delle Esperidi

Fuoco

40 S. di Tito, La scoperta della porpora

Fuoco

41 N. Betti, Il saccheggio di Corinto

Fuoco

42 D. Buti, Apollo consegna Esculapio a Chirone

Fuoco

43 J. Coppi, Alessandro offre stoffe macedoni alle donne di Dario

Fuoco

44 V. Casini, La fucina di Vulcano

 


città di firenze
Comune di Firenze
Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria
50122 FIRENZE
P.IVA 01307110484
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