Bargello in Florence
- For the type of embroidery, see Bargello (needlework).
The Bargello, also known as the Bargello Palace or Palazzo del Popolo (Palace of the People) is a former barracks and prison, now an art museum, in Florence, Italy.
The word "bargello" appears to come from the late Latin bargillus (from Goth bargi and German burg), meaning "castle" or "fortified tower". During the Italian Middle Ages it was the name given to a military captain in charge of keeping peace and justice (hence "Captain of justice") during riots and uproars. In Florence he was usually hired from a foreign city to prevent any appearance of favoritism on the part of the Captain. The position could be compared with that of a current Chief of police. The name Bargello was extended to the building which was the office of the captain.
The Bargello palace was built to house first the Capitano del Popolo and later, in 1261, the 'podestà', the highest magistrate of the Florence City Council. This Palazzo del Podestà, as it was originally called, is the oldest public building in Florence. This austere crenellated building served as model for the construction of the Palazzo Vecchio. In 1574, the Medici dispensed with the function of the Podestà and housed the bargello, the police chief of Florence, in this building, hence its name. It was employed as a prison; executions took place in the Bargello's yard until they were abolished by Grand Duke Peter Leopold in 1780, but it remained the headquarters of the Florentine police until 1859. When Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor Peter Leopold was exiled, the makeshift Governor of Tuscany decided that the Bargello should no longer be a jail, and it then became a national museum.
The original two-story structure was built alongside the Volognana Tower in 1256. The third story, which can be identified by the smaller blocks used to construct it, was added after the fire of 1323. The building is designed around an open courtyard with an external staircase leading to the second floor. An open well is found in the center of the courtyard.
Its collection includes Donatello's David and St. George Tabernacle , Vincenzo Gemito's Pescatore ("fisherboy"), Jacopo Sansovino's Bacco,<ref name=mich/> Giambologna's L’Architettura and his Mercurio<ref name=mich/> and many works from the Della Robbia family.<ref name=don/> Benvenuto Cellini is represented with his bronze bust of Cosimo I.<ref name=mich/>
The museum also has a fine collection of ceramics (maiolica), textile, tapestries, ivory, silver, armours and old coins.
It also features the competing designs on Isaac's Sacrifice (Sacrificio di Isacco) that were performed by Lorenzo Ghiberti<ref name=don/> and Filippo Brunelleschi<ref name=don/> to win the contest for the second set of doors of the Florentine Baptistry (1401).
Honolulu Hale's interior courtyard, staircase, and open ceiling were modeled after the Bargello.