Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Florence 2012 Journal: Capella Medicee

Capella Medicee

The Capella Medicee consists of Michelangelo‘s 16th century ‘New Sacristy’ and the 17th century ‘Chapel of Princes’. They are later additions to the original church of San Lorenzo that was erected in the 15th century at the hands of Brunelleschi.

The New Sacristy is dedicated to St. Mary and she is thusly depicted opposite the altar. Michelangelo’s depiction of a breastfeeding Mary is highly unusual. The room also has a further two functions, one being where a priest would get ready and the other a tomb space. This triple function is emphasised in the three separate parts of the walls in the room.

Michelangelo has evidently incorporated Romanesque ideas into the design. Most notably he is influenced by Brunelleschi with the dome and colour scheme of white and grey. However, although he has drawn influences from elsewhere, they are not without his own twist. The dome, for example, is hanging on pendentives (see picture) instead of the octagonal ‘umbrella’ shape that was employed by Brunelleschi.

The chapel also has a Coffered ceiling, clearly inspiration taken from Rome and the Pantheon. This is probably no mistake, as the Medici held themselves in high esteem whilst also having ties with the Papacy in Rome. However, the New Sacristy has been left unfinished and is not what Michelangelo had envisioned.

The Chapel of the Princes is located opposite the main nave of San Lorenzo (hence importance) and has the Old Sacristy to the left and the New Sacristy to the right. Each tomb of each prince has a niche above in which a bust in situated with very idealised features. It is octagonal in shape which not only conveys the belief in resurrection but in this case also alludes to the sense of the eternal power of the Medici’s.

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