Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tapestry in Medici Florence

It is difficult to think of Renaissance art in Italy without the d’Medici family name coming to mind. In 15th century Florence, Cosimo d’Medici’s patronage of the arts supported the work of Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Botticelli, and others. Less celebrated are the Florentine tapestries. The Medici family supported tapestry workshops that thrived within the city. Tapestries were in demand to decorate the halls of new buildings as well as the palace itself.
The Florentine cartoonists (artists who designed the compositions that were translated into the tapestries) joined in the spirit of the times, leaving behind the sacred, and embracing all that was vibrant and alive in Florence. One of these men, Giovanni Stradano, a painter and engraver familiar with the methods used in the production of tapestries in Flanders, moved to Florence in 1545 and worked at the Medici court.
The picture illustrates the Giostra del Saracino, a type of jousting tournament which was once very popular among the citizens, being held in front of Palazzo Medici. Via Larga, in which the palazzo stands, is shown from the north looking towards Piazza Duomo. From the foreground, moving backwards we can see the Medici residence, with the houses annexed in the fifteenth century on the right, followed by the church of San Giovannino.

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