Studiolo of Francesco I


Studiolo of Francesco I

The Studiolo was a small painting-encrusted barrel-vaulted room in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, commissioned by Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. It was completed for the duke from 1570-1572, by teams of artists under the supervision of Giorgio Vasari and the scholars Giovanni Batista Adriani and Vincenzo Borghini. This small room was part-office, part-laboratory, part-hiding place, and part-cabinet of curiosities. Here the prince tinkered with alchemy and fingered his collection of small, precious, unusual or rare objects, under the organizing vista of thematic canvases, which are rather larger than most cabinet paintings.

The late-Mannerist decorative program of paintings and sculpture was based on items encompassed by the collection. The object collection itself was stored in ~ 20 cabinets. In the center is a fresco of Prometheus receiving jewels from nature, commenting on the interplay of divine, nature, and humanity, that is the goal of both artistic and scientific interests.

The walls were also covered with 34 paintings that were emblematic, some distantly, of the objects in the cabinets below. The themes of the paintings were mythologic, religious, or representing trades. For example, Mirabello Cavalori's "Wool Factory" [http://www.artnet.com/magazine/features/cassidy/cassidy2-20-9.asp (image)] would have abutted the wall under the fresco of fire. A number of the pictures related to sea and ocean activities. Ultimately, the exact wall arrangement of the extant paintings and the contents of the collection are partially speculative. The painting by Giovanni Battista Naldini of the "House of the Dreams" emphasized the relationship with the adjacent bedroom of the Prince. The Studiolo is arrayed and visible through an arched opening and lacks cabinets, which fails to accurately recreate the claustrophobic feel of the original. In addition, originally a portrait of Francesco's mother, Eleonora of Toledo by Bronzino, kept vigil [Christopher Hibbert, "The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici" (1979), Penguin Books] .

While the Studiolo employed many of the best of contemporary Florentine painters; for most, this likely does not represent their individual best efforts. The paintings and the room itself are now more interesting as an example of monarchic eccentricity. The pseudo-allegiance to the sciences couple with the sense that they illuminated the educated monarch, suggest a prescient hint of the encyclopedic philosophy of Englightenment. However, Francesco ultimately was a poor representative of the inquisitive mind; at best this room served as a place for this personally awkward monarch to remain secluded from his wife and family. Not long after the death of the Grand Duke, it was neglected and dismantled by 1590, only to be partially reconstructed in the twentieth centure as an Renaissance oddity within the medieval palace.

Contributing Artists to the Studiolo

*Alessandro Allori [http://www.thais.it/citta_italiane/firenze/index/palazzo_della_signoria/hi_res/00005.htm ("Pearl Fisherman").]
*Niccolò Betti
*Ludovico Buti "The armory"
*Giovanni Maria Butteri [ [http://www.artothek.de/cgi-bin/art_pl/artdetail.pl?language=044&Bildnr=022418&ID=80785| Biography.] ] ("Francesco visiting glassworks")] . [ [http://brunelleschi.imss.fi.it/genscheda.asp?appl=LST&xsl=approfondimento&lingua=ENG&chiave=730224] .]
*Vittore Casini
*Mirabello Cavalori ( [http://www.artothek.de/cgi-bin/art_pl/artdetail.pl?language=044&Bildnr=022434&ID=80785| "Lavinia at the altar"] ).
*Jacopo Coppi called "il Meglio" ("the Best") ("The invention of gunpowder") [Schaefer S. The Invention of Gunpowder Journal of the Warburg and Courtald Institutes. (1981) p209-211.]
*Francesco del Coscia
*Giovanni Fedini
*Alessandro Fei called il Barbiere (the Barber)
*Sebastiano Marsili
*Girolamo Macchietti [http://www.artothek.de/cgi-bin/art_pl/artdetail.pl?language=044&Bildnr=022417&ID=80785| (Medea and Jason)]
*Andrea del Minga
*Francesco Morandini (called il "Poppi") and Jacopo Zucchi for the ceiling
*Giovanni Battista Naldini "Allegory of Dreams" and the "Gathering of Ambergris".
*Carlo Portelli
*Maso da Sanfriano [http://www.artothek.de/cgi-bin/art_pl/artdetail.pl?language=044&Bildnr=022419&ID=80785| ("Flight of Icarus")] .
*Giovanni Stradano ("Francesco in his laboratory"). [http://www.thais.it/citta_italiane/firenze/index/palazzo_della_signoria/hi_res/00001.htm ("Alchemy laboratory")]
*Santi di Tito with [http://www.thais.it/citta_italiane/firenze/index/palazzo_della_signoria/hi_res/00003.htm ("The Sisters of Fetonte")] & [http://www.artothek.de/cgi-bin/art_pl/artdetail.pl?language=044&Bildnr=022416&ID=80785 ("Hercules and Iole")]
*Bartolomeo Traballesi [http://www.artothek.de/cgi-bin/art_pl/artdetail.pl?language=044&Bildnr=022415&ID=80785| ("Danae")]
*Lorenzo Vaiani "dello Sciorina"
*Giorgio Vasari himself
*Jacopo Zucchi

*For excellent photos see [http://www.abaxjp.com/gw04-studiolo/gw04-studiolo.html]

References

*http://www.artic.edu/aic/exhibitions/medici/themes.html
*http://www.italica.rai.it/rinascimento/parole_chiave/schede/studiolo.htm
*http://www.museoragazzi.it/MuseoRagazzi/db36cedt.nsf/pages/fr_studiolo
*http://mypage.bluewin.ch/schupposc/studio.htm


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