Today we made our way to the third city of our tour of Italy. Florence is about a three-and-a-half-hour bus ride from our base city of Milan. Florence is an incredible city, with narrow streets and incredible architecture. In fact, Florence is the capital of Renaissance in Italy. Because of this, many of the aspects of art and architecture in Florence follow the paths of the Greek and Roman schools of thought. We were able to take a guided tour of the main portions of Florence, including the Duomo (Duomo which comes from the Latin word for “home” is the main church/cathedral in each city. This is to avoid confusion with the Duomo in Milan as well). Opposite the cathedral is the baptismal, which is dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The baptismal has two doors, one of which is made completely out of 24K gold. These doors are only opened on the day of St. John, which is June 24th. We were also able to see the residencies of the Medici family, the most powerful and wealthy family in Italy for about 300 years. After finishing the walking tour of Florence, which included also statues (some original and some replicas) of Roman sculptors (Including a replica of the David statue), we were able to visit the Uffizi Gallery. The Uffizi Gallery is a Renaissance art gallery with works from the likes of Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Botticelli. These artists were some of the greatest contributors to the Renaissance movement, and it was a privilege to see some of their original works live and in person.
One of the main things to look for in art is how it compares to our lives today. When looking at Renaissance art, it is very easy to see the stark differences between that time and now. Firstly, there is much more representation with power and wealth in the clothes than there is today. For example, one of the more expensive clothing dyes from the time period was purple. The commissioners of a portrait would have the artist paint them wearing purple, to show that they had the wealth to afford purple clothing. Another example would be the depiction of unicorns in portraits. We had an example of that shown to us today as well. There was also a large emphasis of gender as well. In this time period, women were not seen for more than creation of heirs and for the house as well. Because of this, the fashion in the paintings for these women was very intricate and almost impractical. There were long flowing gowns and intricate designs for clothes (the more intricate, the wealthier). In fact, there were only few variations for the outfits for women in these days. Our guide mentioned to us that the shirt/bust of the outfit would stay the same, but the skirt and the sleeves were changed. On the other hand, men were dressed more “simply.” Their outfits were more designed for the important government work that they would be doing. Even the religious peoples of the time had their portraits done, so we can compare these as well. As religious people, they are supposed to dress more simply. However, the money of the church during this time period persuaded them to dress more like their government counterparts. They wore bright colored designs and patterns to show the wealth and power of the rise of the Catholic Church during the Renaissance. As an assumption from this, someone with more money will try and look more fashionable given the styles at the time. Someone can appear to have more money by dressing like it. I feel like that can happen again in today’s time period too. We see the big-name fashion brands like Gucci, Armani, and Chanel tend to have high-priced products. If someone has the products made by these companies, we can attribute that to them having more wealth.
One of the interesting parts of the art in the gallery was the fact that the artists would include the faces of important people or loved ones in their major paintings. For example, in the piece below by Michelangelo, he represents himself as Joseph in the depiction of the Holy Family. There were many other examples of artists including loved ones as Venus, or even full on painting the commissioner of a painting in the artwork itself. Today was a day full of beautiful work, and I feel that will easily continue as we continue on in Florence for the next few days.