Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Florence 2012 Journal: The Bargello

The Bargello

The word 'bargello' is said to derive from the Latin word bargillus that translates into 'fortified tower'.
During the Renaissance years it was a term to describe the chief of police and their offices; the Bargello in Florence was exactly that, as well as a prison. Now, it is a national museum (pictured right).

  • Salone di Donatello: Donatello room.
The Donatello room houses both of his David and Goliath statues. The first one was cast in 1408 and the second in the 1440's. The first is made out of marble and portrays David in the classical contrapposto pose. He is without any weaponry but the slight opening in his fingers has lead art historians to believe that he may have originally had a bronze or leather strap in the clasp of his hand. Similarly, there is a large hole in the back -it is likely that it was where they were going to attack the statue to the facade of the cathedral in Florence. The drapery on the figure is very simplistic, however Donatello's decision to portray a heroic David in the contrapposto pose implies that this was Early Renaissance sculpture nonetheless. Goliath's head is at his feet and there remains two stones in his head, one of which has David's slingshot still attached.

The second David was made entirely out of bronze, with various parts covered in gilding (that has since faded away) and is once again in the contrapposto pose. The face of this David figure is supposedly modelled on Antinous (the lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian) - who is claimed to possess unparalleled beauty. Furthermore, this statue was the very first naked round statue post - antiguity and thus can be seen as a far bigger indication of Renaissance than his previous statue of the same name.

Another statue situated in this room is Donatello's St. George (pictured left). It was originally created in 1416-17 to sit in a niche on the facade of the church of Orsanmichele. Although completely made of marble, there is some indication that there was once some bronze components. This can be seen in the fact that George's hair is slightly flattened (indicating that a helmet was there) and his hand slightly open (once holding a sword). The period in which this was cast was during a time when Florence was occupied by Naples. Throughout this occupation it is documented that Florentine soldiers used to have conversations with this statue. Of course, he could never speak back but the indication of this is that it served as a morale booster - and in this it foreshadows Michelangelo's David and the prupose it served.

Lastly, we also saw Andrea del Verrochio's take on David. It supposedly has the face of his pupil, Leonardo
da 'Vinci, as an early teen. It is fairly similar to Donatello's in that he is also standing in the contrapposto pose, whilst also having been gilded (but now faded). The head of Goliath is movable, as was the rock lodged in his forehead (now missing).

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