Medici Chapel in Florence
The Medici Chapels (Cappelle medicee) is a structure in the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence, Italy. It comprises two structures added to Brunelleschi's original design, each intended to celebrate the power of the Medici as Grand Dukes of Tuscany. One is the Sagrestia Nuova, the "New Sacristy", designed by Michelangelo. The other is the Cappella dei Principi, the 16th and 17th-century "Chapel of the Princes", which is entirely covered with a revetment of colored marbles inlaid with pietra dura.
The Sagrestia Nuova
The Sagrestia Nuova was intended by Cardinal Giulio de' Medici and his cousin Pope Leo X as a mausoleum or mortuary chapel for members of the Medici family. It balances Brunelleschi's Sagrestia Vecchia, the "Old Sacristy" nestled between the left transept of San Lorenzo, with which it consciously competes, and shares its format of a cubical space surmounted by a dome, of gray pietra serena and whitewashed walls. It was the first essay in architecture (1521–24) of Michelangelo, who also designed its monuments dedicated to certain members of the Medici family, with sculptural figures of the four times of day that were destined to influence sculptural figures reclining on architraves for many generations to come. The Sagrestia Nuova was entered by a discreet entrance in a corner of San Lorenzo's right transept, now closed.
Though it was vaulted over by 1524, the ambitious projects of its sculpture and the intervention of events, such as the temporary exile of the Medici (1527), the death of Giulio, now Pope Clement VII and the permanent departure of Michelangelo for Rome in 1534, meant that Michelangelo never finished it. Though most of the statues had been carved by the time of Michelangelo's departure, they had not been put in place, being left in disarray across the chapel, and later installed by Niccolò Tribolo in 1545. When Michelangelo moved to Rome, the sacristy was unfinished, although the architecture and sculpture were almost ready. By order of Cosimo I, Giorgio Vasari and Bartolomeo Ammannati finished the work by 1555.
The Medici tombs were intended to be four, but that of Lorenzo the Magnificent and his brother Giuliano (modestly buried beneath the altar at the entrance wall) were never undertaken. The result is that the two magnificent existing tombs are those of comparatively insignificant Medici: Lorenzo di Piero, duke of Urbino and Giuliano di Lorenzo, duke of Nemours. Their architectural components are similar; their sculptures offer contrast. On an unfinished wall, Michelangelo's Madonna and Child flanked by the Medici patron saints Cosmas and Damian, executed by Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli and Raffaello da Montelupo respectively, to Michelangelo's models, are set over their plain rectangular tomb. The concealed corridor with wall drawings of Michelangelo under the New Sacristy discovered in 1976.
Cappella dei Principi
The octagonal Cappella dei Principi surmounted by a tall dome, 59 m. high, that is the distinguishing feature of San Lorenzo when seen from a distance, stands centrally sited with respect to the nave, to which it provides the equivalent of an apsidal chapel. Its entrance is from the exterior, in Piazza Madonna degli Aldobrandini, and through the low vaulted crypt planned by Bernardo Buontalenti before plans for the chapel above were made.
The opulent Cappella dei Principi, an idea formulated by Cosimo I, was put into effect by Ferdinand I de' Medici; it was designed by Matteo Nigetti, following some sketches tendered to an informal competition of 1602 by Don Giovanni de' Medici, the natural son of Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, which were altered in the execution by the aged Buontalenti; thus, a true expression of court art, it was the result of collaboration among designers and patrons.
For the execution of its astonishing revetment of marbles inlaid with colored marbles and semi-precious stone, the Grand Ducal hardstone workshop, the Opificio delle Pietre Dure was established. The art of commessi, as it was called in Florence, assembled jig-sawn fragments of specimen stones to form the designs of the revetment that entirely cover the walls. The result was disapproved of by 18th and 19th century visitors, but has come to be appreciated for an example of the taste of its time. Six grand sarcophagi are empty; the Medici remains are interred in the crypt below. In sixteen compartments of the dado are coats-of-arms of Tuscan cities under Medici control. In the niches that were intended to hold portrait sculptures of Medici, two (Ferdinando I and Cosimo II) were executed by Pietro Tacca (1626–42).
- Lorenzo the Magnificent
- Michelangelo and the Medici
- Peter Barenboim, "Michelangelo Drawings: Key to the Medici Chapel Interpretation", Moscow, Letny Sad, 2006,
- Peter Barenboim, Alexander Zakharov, "Mouse of Medici and Michelangelo: Medici Chapel / Il topo dei Medici e Michelangelo: Cappelle Medicee", Mosca, Letni Sad, 2006.
- Peter Barenboim, Sergey Shiyan, Michelangelo: Mysteries of Medici Chapel, SLOVO, Moscow, 2006.
- Edith Balas, "Michelangelo's Medici Chapel: a new Interpretation", Philadelphia, 1995
- James Beck, Antonio Paolucci, Bruno Santi, "Michelangelo. The Medici Chapel", Thames and Hudson, New York, 1994,