Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Saving the Soul of Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici: Function and Design in the Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo

  • Paul Davies

Abstract

Using Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici's mausoleum in San Lorenzo in Florence as a case study, this article asks why high-ranking members of Florentine society increasingly opted for burial in a sacristy in the years after c. 1350. Countering the argument that the attraction for patrons was primarily one of size, it argues that sacristies were seen as ideal burial places in which to convey the souls of the departed through purgatory, since they were both repositories for collections of saints’ relics that might intercede on the deceased's behalf and the busiest spaces in a church, where priests would have had innumerable opportunities to offer prayers for them. In discussing this choice, the article considers Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici's anxiety for the health of his soul and why he took the highly unconventional step of establishing two chapels in San Lorenzo to care for it; and it goes on to consider how the design of the so-called Old Sacristy was conceived to assist. In doing so, it offers a range of new documentary evidence regarding the early usage of the space, and it concludes with observations about the strategies employed by patrons in the siting of their tombs so as to maximise the care for their souls.

Copyright

References

Hide All

NOTES

1 de’ Medici's, Giovanni di Bicci deathbed request: ‘pregate Iddio che il mio cammino sia con salute della immortale anima’, in Cavalcanti, Giovanni, Istorie fiorentine, 2 vols (Florence, 1838), I, p. 263.

2 The literature on the Old Sacristy's architectural style and its place in Brunelleschi's work is too huge to include in its entirety. Listed here are only the studies that have contributed most to its identity as an iconic Renaissance structure: von Fabriczy, Cornelius, Filippo Brunelleschi: sein Leben und seine Werke (Stuttgart, 1892), pp. 150–96; Sanpaolesi, Piero, Brunellesco e Donatello nella Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo (Pisa, 1948); Klotz, Heinrich, Filippo Brunelleschi: The Early Works and the Medieval Tradition (London, 1990), pp. 118–29, originally published as Die Früwerke Brunelleschis und die mittelalterliche Tradition (Berlin, 1970); Battisti, Eugenio, Brunelleschi: Complete Works (London, 1981), pp. 7997, originally published as Filippo Brunelleschi (Milan, 1976); Saalman, Howard, Filippo Brunelleschi: The Buildings (London, 1983), pp. 113–43; Baldini, Umberto et al. , eds, Brunelleschi e Donatello nella Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo (Florence, 1989); Trachtenberg, Marvin, ‘On Brunelleschi's Old Sacristy as Model for Early Renaissance Church Architecture’, in L'Eglise dans l'architecture de la Renaissance, ed. Guillaume, Jean (Paris, 1996), pp. 934; Bruschi, Arnaldo, Filippo Brunelleschi (Milan, 2006), pp. 76108; Cohen, Matthew A., Beyond Beauty: Reexamining Architectural Proportion through the Basilicas of San Lorenzo and Santo Spirito (Venice, 2013).

3 In addition to the studies cited in the previous note, see also Kent, Dale, Cosimo de’ Medici and the Florentine Renaissance (New Haven and London, 2000), pp. 186–97; Ruschi, Pietro, ‘La Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo: per un disegno delle vicende costruttive’, in Donatello e la Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo, ed. Ruschi, Pietro et al. (Florence, 1986); Pietro Ruschi, ‘La Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo: storia e architettura’, in Brunelleschi e Donatello nella Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo, ed. Baldini et al., pp. 13–27; Paoletti, John T., ‘Fraternal Piety and Family Power: The Artistic Patronage of Cosimo and Lorenzo de’ Medici’, in Cosimo ‘il Vecchio’ de’ Medici, 1389–1464, ed. Ames-Lewis, Francis (Oxford, 1992), pp. 195219; Roger Crum, ‘Donatello's Ascension of St John the Evangelist and the Old Sacristy as Sepulchre’, Artibus et historiae, 16 (1995), pp. 141–61; Cornelison, Sally, ‘The Tomb of Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici and the Old Sacristy at San Lorenzo’, in The Sculpted Object, 1400–1700, ed. Currie, Stuart and Motture, Peta (Aldershot, 1997), pp. 2542; and San Lorenzo: A Florentine Church, ed. Robert Gaston and Louis Waldman (Florence, 2017).

4 In taking this approach, I am indebted to Robert Gaston's ground-breaking study of Lorenzo, San, ‘Liturgy and Patronage in San Lorenzo, Florence, 1350–1650’, in Patronage, Art and Society in Renaissance Italy, ed. Kent, Francis William and Simons, Patricia (Oxford, 1987), pp. 111–33. Dale Kent also proposes that such a rebalancing should be undertaken in Cosimo de’ Medici, pp. 186–97. Two essays that begin to move in this direction are Crum, ‘Donatello's Ascension of St John’, and Cornelison, ‘The Tomb of Giovanni di Bicci’.

5 See Ettlinger, L.D., ‘The Liturgical Function of Michelangelo's Medici Chapel’, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, 22 (1978), pp. 287304.

6 Although the modern literature tends to ignore the question, it was raised in Domenico Moreni, Continuazione delle memorie istoriche dell'Ambrosiana imperial basilica di San Lorenzo di Firenze, 2 vols (Florence, 1816), I, p. 22, and has been explored in relation to Giovanni di Bicci's son Cosimo: see Kent, Cosimo de’ Medici, pp. 186–97.

7 This was the only point of access to the sacristy at the time. Francesco Caglioti believes that there was a second door giving access to the adjacent chapel of Sts Cosmas and Damian that may have provided an additional view of the sacristy from the outset — see Caglioti, , ‘La tomba verrocchiesca dei ‘Cosmiadi’ e la basilica di San Lorenzo: antefatti e primi successi’, Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Classe di Lettere e Filosofia. Quaderni, 4 (1996), pp. 127–54; also Sebregondi, Ludovica, ‘Alle radici della Sagrestia Vecchia: Brunelleschi, i Medici, i confratelli del Santissimo Sacramento’, in Il Tesoro di San Lorenzo, ed. Nardinocchi, Elisabetta and Sebregondi, Ludovica (Florence, 2007), pp. 1131 — but there is no evidence for it other than the circumstantial presence of an opening in the same position in the undercroft. None of the early drawings of the church shows an opening here: see Burns, Howard, ‘San Lorenzo in Florence Before the Building of the New Sacristy: An Early Plan’, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, 23 (1979), pp. 145–54. Any evidence of a door in this position was eradicated when a large arch was inserted by Verrocchio for the erection of the Tomb of Piero and Giovanni de’ Medici.

8 Today the sacristy is more visible from the nave than it would have been when first built as it can be glimpsed through the opening around the tomb of Piero and Giovanni de’ Medici, an opening that did not exist when the Old Sacristy was first conceived.

9 For an analysis of sacristy functions, see Haines, Margaret, The ‘Sacrestia delle Messe’ of the Florentine Cathedral (Florence, 1983); Hamlett, Lydia, ‘The Sacristy of San Marco, Venice: Form and Function Illuminated’, Art History, 32 (2009), pp. 458–84; Ashley Elston, ‘Storing Sanctity: Sacristy Reliquary Cupboards in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy’ (doctoral thesis, University of Kansas, 2011); Davies, Paul, ‘Giuliano da Sangallo e decorum negli edifici a pianta centrale: Santa Maria delle Carceri e la Sacrestia di Santo Spirito’, in Giuliano da Sangallo, ed. Belluzzi, Amedeo, Elam, Caroline and Fiore, Francesco Paolo (Milan, 2017), pp. 304–18.

10 Florence, Archivio di Stato [hereafter ASF], Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, f. 5: ‘Item quod in cappella Sanctorum Cosme et Damianj que est penes sacristiam novam dicte ecclesie et in cappella Sancti Johannis Evangeliste existente in dicta nova sacristia dicte eclesie constructis et edificatis per dictum Johannem ad incrementum divini cultus in eclesia memorata’. From this, it is clear that the chapel of St John the Evangelist is not the sacristy, but ‘in’ the sacristy. Any residual doubt is dispelled by a description later in the manuscript (f. 15) of ‘due nobilissime et sumptuose cappelle constructe nuper simul cum una ornatissima sacristia in dicta eclesia per dictum spectabilem et egregium virum Johannem’. This mid-fifteenth-century manuscript, which contains a series of documents associated with the establishment of canonries at the church, is central to the arguments advanced and is discussed in greater detail below.

11 For Giovanni di Bicci, see Dami, Brunetto, Giovanni di Bicci dei Medici nella vita politica: ricerche storiche (1400–1429) (Florence, 1899); De Roover, Raymond, The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank, 1397–1494 (Cambridge, MA, 1963); and Kent, Dale, The Rise of the Medici: Faction in Florence 1426–1434 (Oxford, 1978).

12 For the early fifteenth-century rebuilding of San Lorenzo and its history, see Hyman, Isabelle, Fifteenth-Century Florentine Studies: The Palazzo Medici and a Ledger for the Church of San Lorenzo (New York and London, 1977); Saalman, Filippo Brunelleschi, pp. 106–209; Caroline Elam, ‘Cosimo de'Medici and San Lorenzo’, in Cosimo ‘il Vecchio’ de’ Medici, ed. Ames-Lewis, pp. 157–80; and Trachtenberg, Marvin, ‘Building and Writing S. Lorenzo in Florence: Architect, Biographer, Patron, and Prior’, Art Bulletin, 97 (2015), pp. 140–72.

13 For tomb types, see Butterfield, Andrew, ‘Social Structure and the Typology of Funerary Monuments in Early Renaissance Florence’, Res, 26 (1994), pp. 4768. The observation about preferences for a site in front of the high altar is also made in Sharon Strocchia, ‘Burials in Renaissance Florence’ (doctoral dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1981), pp. 365–67, and Gaston, ‘Liturgy and Patronage in San Lorenzo’, p. 131.

14 Giovannni di Bicci's role in the patronage of the chapels has been perhaps unintentionally minimised in the literature. The inscriptions on the tomb and the document that refers to the ‘fondamenti di Chosimo’ (1422) have tended to lead scholars to emphasise the roles of Cosimo and Lorenzo in the patronage of the chapels. See, for example, Kent, Cosimo de' Medici, pp. 186–97, and Paoletti, ‘Fraternal Piety’, pp. 195–219. It is Giovanni di Bicci who is named as patron in the earliest surviving documents — see ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, f. 1v: ‘Sane pro parte diletti filij Johannis Bicci de Medicis civis florentini, nobis nuper exhibita petitio continebat quod ipse qui de bonis sibj creditis aliquam in celestibus portiunculam dirigere gestiens apud eclesiam Sanctj Laurentij florentinj in qua preter priorem eiusdem novem canonicatus et totidem prebende fore noscantur notabilem cum duabus inibj pro celebratione missarum cappellis sacristiam opere non modicum sumptuoso, de novo edificarj et construj facere coepit ad ipsius incrementum cultus’.

15 It should be noted that Giovanni di Bicci's preference for the sacristy was not dictated by the dedication of its chapel to St John the Evangelist — Giovanni's name saint — as the dedications were not preordained: they could easily have been swapped.

16 For this observation, see Saalman, Filippo Brunelleschi, p. 116. It might be argued that there was nowhere for Giovanni di Bicci to be buried in the chapel of Sts Cosmas and Damian as the chapel stood over the entrance into the church's undercroft and thus there was no solid ground in which he could have been interred, but this argument does not stand up to scrutiny. The sacristy has the same problem, and he is in fact buried in the pier supporting the floor. Had Giovanni di Bicci wished to use the chapel of Sts Cosmas and Damian as his mausoleum, it would not have been impossible to design a different access point to the undercroft, given that the chapel of Sts Cosmas and Damian and the sacristy were the first parts of the new church to have been built.

17 See, for example, Klotz, Filippo Brunelleschi, p. 130. For subsequent literature on the Santa Trinita sacristy, see Jones, Roger, ‘Palla Strozzi e la sagrestia di Santa Trinita’, Rivista d'arte, 37 (1984), pp. 9106, and Bulgarelli, Massimo, ‘La sagrestia di Santa Trinita a Firenze: architettura, memoria, rappresentazione’, Quaderni dell'Istituto di Storia dell'Architettura, 57/59 (2011–12), pp. 2536.

18 Tomas, Natalie R., The Medici Women: Gender and Power in Renaissance Florence (Aldershot, 2003), pp. 1416.

19 Haines, Margaret, ‘The Sacristy of S. Maria Novella in Florence: The History of its Functions and Furnishings’, Memorie domenicane, 11 (1980), pp. 576626.

20 For the marriage of Onofrio Strozzi to Giovanna Cavalcanti, see Heather Gregory, ‘Palla Strozzi's Patronage and Pre-Medicean Florence’, in Patronage, Art, and Society in Renaissance Italy, ed. Kent and Simons, pp. 201–20, esp. p. 209.

21 Haines, The ‘Sacrestia delle Messe’, pp. 23–26.

22 For the complicated patronage history of the Santa Croce sacristy, besides the studies of Haines cited above, see Jacks, Phillip and Caferro, William, The Spinelli of Florence: Fortunes of a Renaissance Merchant Family (University Park, PA, 2001), pp. 162–65.

23 No proper survey of fifteenth-century sacristies has yet been attempted, and this would be well worth pursuing.

24 For the Busini patronage of the old sacristy in San Salvatore al Monte, see Chiara Capulli, ‘“La Chiesa bellissima di Sancto Francesco in Monte”: Experiencing a Franciscan Observant Church in Renaissance Florence’ (MPhil dissertation, University of Cambridge, 2016), p. 37. Tommaso di Francesco Busini, the sacristy's founder, was buried there in 1442.

25 Walter, and Paatz, Elisabeth, Die Kirchen von Florenz: ein kunstgeschichtliches Handbuch, 6 vols (Frankfurt am Main, 1940–54), II, p. 58.

26 Bertagna, Martino, ‘Il convento dell'Osservanza di Siena e le sue vicende strutturali dal 1495 ai giorni nostri’, Archivum Franciscanum historicum, 57 (1964), pp. 110–53.

27 Trachtenberg, ‘On Brunelleschi's Old Sacristy’, pp. 9–34.

28 This example does not entirely correspond to San Lorenzo. While the Old Sacristy was the largest ‘space’ in the church, it was not itself a chapel, as discussed above.

29 Gaston, ‘Liturgy and Patronage in San Lorenzo’, pp. 111–33.

30 Cohn, Samuel, The Cult of Remembrance and the Black Death: Six Renaissance Cities in Central Italy (Baltimore, MD, 1997).

31 ‘In nomine domini anni MCCCXXVII del mese di Febraio si difico et comincio questa chappella per Bivigliano et Bartolo et Salvestro Manetti et per Vanni et Pietro Bandini de Baroncielli ad honore et reverentia del nostro signore iddio e della sua madre Beata Vergine Maria Annuntiata al chui onore l'avemo cosi posto nome per rimedio et salute delle nostre anime et di tutti i nostri.’

32 Haines, ‘The Sacristy of S. Maria Novella in Florence’, p. 586, n. 36.

33 De Roover, The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank, pp. 10–14.

34 See the description of the character of Giovanni di Bicci by his great-nephew in Cavalcanti, Istorie fiorentine, I, pp. 261–68.

35 ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155. See, above all, David Peterson, ‘San Lorenzo, the Medici and the Florentine Church in the Late Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries’, in San Lorenzo: A Florentine Church, ed. Gaston and Waldman, pp. 62–102, esp. pp. 81–83. This manuscript was noted in Susan McKillop, ‘Dante and lumen Christi: A Proposal for the Meaning of the Tomb of Cosimo de'Medici’, in Cosimo ‘il Vecchio’ de’ Medici, ed. Ames-Lewis, pp. 245–301, esp. pp. 264–65; and in Crum, ‘Donatello's Ascension of St John’, p. 148.

36 ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, ff. 2r–17r.

37 Although the documents specify that the canonries were established to care for the souls not just of the founder, but also of his family and friends, it is clear that their principal purpose was to care for the former.

38 ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, ff. 1r–2r.

39 Ibid., filza 155, ff. 1r–2r.

40 Ibid., filza 155, f. 15r.

41 For the date of the final agreement, see ibid., filza 155, f. 1. Another document, published in Baldini, Brunelleschi e Donatello, p. 102, records that a meeting took place on 8 November. See Florence, Archivio Capitolare di San Lorenzo [hereafter ASL], 2866, Filza di quaderni di ricordi 1389–1533, f. 2r. The description of the meeting provided by the ricordi, however, is so close in detail to the one that definitely took place on 28 November that it is likely the date as written in the libro de ricordi is simply a transcription error.

42 ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, f. 17r.

43 See note 14.

44 ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, f. 6v.

45 See, for example, ASL, 2051, f. 1v.

46 See Gaston, ‘Liturgy and Patronage in San Lorenzo’, pp. 111–33

47 Inclina domine (from Psalm 86): ‘Turn thy ear, Lord, and listen to me in my helplessness and my need. Protect a life dedicated to thyself; rescue a servant of thine that puts his trust in thee. In thee, my own God; have mercy, O Lord, for mercy I plead continually; comfort thy servant's heart, this heart that aspires, Lord, to thee. Who is so kind and forgiving, Lord, as thou art, who so rich in mercy to all who invoke him? Give a hearing, then, Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea when I cry out to thee in a time of sore distress, counting on thy audience. There is none like thee, Lord, among the gods; none can do as thou doest. Lord, all the nations thou hast made must needs come and worship thee, honouring thy name, so great thou art, so marvellous in thy doings, thou who alone art God.’

Deus Veniae Largitur (from Office for the dead): ‘O God the giver of pardon, and the lover of human salvation, we beseech thy clemency: that thou grant the brethren of our congregation, kinsfolk, and benefactors, which are departed out of this world, blessed Mary ever virgin making intercession with all the saints, to come to the fellowship of eternal blessedness.’

Fidelium deus (from Office for the dead): ‘O God the creator, and redeemer of all the faithful, give unto the souls of thy servants — men and women — remission of all their sins: that through Godly supplications they may obtain the pardon which they have always wished for. Who livest and reignest world without end.’

48 The document is dated 21 January 1429 (1430 according to the Gregorian calendar). In it, Giovanni di Bicci, who died on 20 February 1429, is referred to as already dead.

49 The table is based on the various volumes of Obblighi in ASL and on ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155.

50 See Chiffoleau, Jacques, La Comptabilité de l'au-delà: les hommes, la mort et la religion dans la région d'Avignon, à la fin du Moyen Age (vers 1320–vers 1480) (Rome, 1980), pp. 323–56; Johnson, Geraldine, ‘Activating the Effigy: Donatello's Pecci Tomb in Siena Cathedral’, Art Bulletin, 77 (1995), pp. 445–59, esp. pp. 454–55.

51 ASL, 2071, Specchio degli Obblighi, f. 1r (Appendix 1).

52 Ibid., f. 6r.

53 ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 163, ff. 4v–12v. These included all the major churches of Florence: the Cathedral, Santa Maria Novella, Santa Croce and Santo Spirito, as well as San Marco and the Badia in Fiesole.

54 ASL, 2071, Specchio degli Obblighi, f. 10v. There is a discrepancy with this figure in ASL, 2051, Obblighi, f. 36, where she is allocated one office and just five masses.

55 ASL, 2051, Obblighi, f. 80.

56 Ibid., f. 77.

57 ASL, 2071, Specchio degli Obblighi.

58 For Santa Croce, see Elston, Ashley, ‘A Painted Saint and Passion Relics: Taddeo Gaddi's Reliquary Cupboard for Santa Croce in Florence’, in Mendicant Cultures in the Medieval and Early Modern World, ed. Cornelison, Sally et al. (Turnhout, 2016), pp. 143–82. For Santa Maria Novella, see Silver, Nathaniel, ‘Fra Angelico, Giovanni Masi and the Reliquaries for Santa Maria Novella’, in Fra Angelico, Heaven on Earth, ed. Silver, Nathaniel (Boston and London, 2018), pp. 3339; Lunardi, Roberto, Arte e storia in S. Maria Novella (Florence, 1983), pp. 99142. For Santo Spirito, see Davies, ‘Giuliano da Sangallo’, pp. 304–18, esp. 309–15. Reliquary cupboards could be found in many other sacristies all over Italy; see, for example, the recent study of the reliquary cupboard in Padua Cathedral by Elston, Ashley, ‘Pain, Plague, and Power in Niccolò Semitecolo's Reliquary Cupboard for Padua Cathedral’, Gesta, 51 (2012), pp. 111–27.

59 ASF, Corporazioni religiose soppresse da governo francese, 122, filza 60, ff. 29–35. The inventories date from 1453 to the early sixteenth century.

60 ‘Sacrarium dicimus mansionem illam, in qua venerabiles Sanctorum reliquiae. sacra vasa, sacerdotalia indumenta, aliaque id genus servantur’. See Biliotti, Modesto, ‘Chronica pulcherrimae aedis magnique coenobii S. Mariae cognomento Novellae florentinae civitatis [1586]’, Analecta sacri ordinis fratrum praedjcatorum, 23 (1915), pp. 3132.

61 ASL, 1922 (1), Entrata e uscita della sagrestia, ff. 1r–v.

62 ASL, 1922 (3), Entrata e uscita della sagrestia, ff. 1r–2r.

63 ASL, 2634, Inventario della Sagrestia.

64 See Appendix 2.

65 ASL, 2866 (3), f. 14.

66 ASL, 2634, f. 3v: ‘sotto l'altare di sagrestia’. This would appear to be confirmed by a statement on the same folio that refers to a large cross that stood over the ‘altar and sepulchres of the chapel of the sacristy’ (see Appendix 2).

67 The date of the altar is recorded in an inscription inside the cavity: see Ruschi, ‘La Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo: per un disegno’, p. 16.

68 For the iconography of the altar and the door, see Gilbert, Creighton, ‘The Smallest Problem in Florentine Iconography’, in Essays Presented to Myron P. Gilmore, ed. Bertelli, Sergio (Florence, 1972), pp. 193205; Saalman, Filippo Brunelleschi, p. 133. It is worth noting, too, that the term scarsella, traditionally used to describe the altar chapel, means ‘purse’, sometimes used in reliquary design.

69 ASL, 2634, f. 3r: ‘Tavoletta di legno inorata con sportelli da serrare con molte reliquie’.

70 Hahn, Cynthia, Strange Beauty: Issues in the Making and Meaning of Reliquaries, 400–circa 1204 (University Park, PA, 2012), p. 161.

71 There is no consensus in the literature on who designed the table. For Morolli and Ruschi, it was Brunelleschi, on the grounds that the porphyry disc is the same dimension as the opening into the lantern (Ruschi, ‘La Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo: per un disegno’, p. 23, n. 28), but this is unacceptable on stylistic grounds: the bronze ‘Doric’ columns supporting the centre of the table are unlike anything in Brunelleschi's oeuvre and they resemble instead the colonnettes on Donatello's cantoria made for Florence cathedral. Ruschi did, however, note the similarity of the table with the one seen in Donatello's roundel of St Luke in the sacristy, and suggests that Donatello was inspired by a Brunelleschian motif. However, it is more likely that Donatello designed both the table and the one in the roundel himself.

72 In a thought-provoking essay, Sally Cornelison argues that there is no hard evidence for dating the present arrangement of table-topped tomb at the centre of the sacristy to before 1459: see ‘The Tomb of Giovanni di Bicci’, pp. 25–42. In that year, it is mentioned in a poem commemorating the visit of Galeazzo Maria to Florence, as well as in a document in the Archivio Capitolare di San Lorenzo (see note 108). Cornelison suggests instead that Giovanni di Bicci was originally buried in the floor and that the location was marked by the porphyry roundel that now sits in the vesting table, but there is little evidence to support this. She also suggests that the sarcophagus was previously located in the sacristy wall where the tomb of Piero de’ Medici now stands, although this is unlikely in my view, as explained in note 7.

73 The sarcophagus does not actually support the table. It rises to a level a few centimetres short of it, but for anyone standing in the room it gives the appearance of supporting it.

74 Butterfield, Andrew, ‘The Funerary Monument of Cosimo de’ Medici, “Pater Patriae”’, in The Early Medici and Their Artists, ed. Ames-Lewis, Francis (London, 1995), pp. 153–68.

75 As pointed out in Crum, ‘Donatello's Ascension of St. John’.

76 ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, f. 16v. The document specifies eight candles, not twelve, as mentioned in McKillop, ‘Dante and lumen Christi’, p. 264. For the use of candles in commemorative services at San Lorenzo, see above all Gaston, ‘Liturgy and Patronage in San Lorenzo’, pp. 123–24.

77 For the floor of the Old Sacristy, see Dressen, Angela, Pavimenti decorati del Quattrocento in Italia (Venice, 2008), pp. 288–89.

78 On the table, see McKillop, ‘Dante and lumen Christi’; Shearman, John, Only Connect… Art and the Spectator in the Italian Renaissance (Princeton, 1992), pp. 1017; and Sperling, Christine, ‘Verrocchio's Medici Tombs’, in Verrocchio and Late Quattrocento Italian Sculpture, ed. Bule, Stephen (Florence, 1992), pp. 5161. See also the important observations in Marvin Trachtenberg, ‘Some Issues of Materiality and Facture in San Lorenzo, Brunelleschi, and Florentine Early Renaissance Architecture’, in San Lorenzo: A Florentine Church, ed. Gaston and Waldman, pp. 293–319, esp. pp. 313–15.

79 This idea can be found in McKillop, ‘Dante and lumen Christi’, p. 264, and in Saalman, Filippo Brunelleschi, p. 133, though Saalman equivocates on the matter. It was rightly rejected in Shearman, Only Connect, p. 10.

80 See, for example, Lupia, John N., ‘Altar. Western to c. 1550’, in The Dictionary of Art, ed. Turner, Jane, 34 vols (London, 1996), I, pp. 654–57.

81 ASL, 2214, Sepoltuario (1463–82), f.1v: ‘Alla casa et descendenti Giovanni d'Averardo de’ Medici una sepultura d'archa marmorea in decta sagrestia et sotto detto archa o vero dallato, coperte con uno descho grande di marmo et in mezo di sopra uno tondo di porfido dove si ponghono e paramenti della sagrestia’, cited in McKillop, ‘Dante and lumen Christi’, p. 264, n. 85.

82 This was suggested tentatively in Bandmann, Günter, ‘Über Pastophorien und verwandte Nebenräume im mittelalterlichen Kirchenbau’, in Kunstgeschichtliche Studien für Hans Kauffmann, ed. Braunfels, Wolfgang (Berlin, 1956), pp. 1958.

83 Beyer, Andreas, ‘Funktion und Repräsentation: die Porphyr-Rotae der Medici’, in Piero de' Medici ‘il Gottoso’, ed. Beyer, Andreas and Boucher, Bruce (Berlin, 1993), pp. 151–67; and for the functions of porphyry discs in general, see Butters, Suzanne, The Triumph of Vulcan: Sculptors’ Tools, Porphyry, and the Prince in Ducal Florence (Florence, 1996), pp. 122–26.

84 Hood, William, Fra Angelico at San Marco (New Haven and London, 1993), pp. 251–52.

85 For the allusion to the Medici palla, see Butters, Triumph of Vulcan, p. 123.

86 See Pietro Ruschi, ‘Rimeditando sulle fonti brunelleschiane: dall’auctoritas romana alla rinascenza fiorentina’, in San Lorenzo: A Florentine Church, ed. Gaston and Waldman, pp. 279–92, especially p. 286.

87 Crum, ‘Donatello's Ascension of St John’, pp. 141–61.

88 For masses for the dead, see note 50. See also Goff, Jacques Le, The Birth of Purgatory, (Chicago, 1984), and the useful summary in Minou Schraven, ‘Festive Funerals: Funeral Apparati in Early Modern Italy, particularly in Rome’ (doctoral thesis, University of Gröningen, 2006), pp. 18–20.

89 The two windows flanking the triumphal arch would have helped light the sacristy before the upper storeys were added thus restricting the provision. See Battisti, Brunelleschi, pp. 79–97.

90 See Strocchia, ‘Burials in Renaissance Florence’, pp. 377–78.

91 The moulding in the scarsella has already been read in this way; see Bruschi, Filippo Brunelleschi, p. 95.

92 For the literature on veils, see especially Holmes, Megan, The Miraculous Image in Renaissance Florence (New Haven and London, 2013), pp. 218–27.

93 ASL, 1922 (2), Entrata e uscita delle sagrestia, f. 23: ‘Adj 25 settembre [1440] sotteramo Lorenzo di Giovanni de Medici in Domenica. Cantò la messa el vescovo di Valvi, et in coro nostro furono nove cardinali e papa Eugenio che resideva a quell tempo in Firenze. Gli mandò lo stendardo o bandiera della Chiesa e la sua e cento torchi. Avenga gli portassino. Fo molto honorato della comunità. Largimogli tutto l'ornamento della bara et per questo avemo dalla donna sua una pianeta di domaschino bianco. Restò in sagrestia, fatto el mortorio et l'uficio il di seguente, libre cinquecentotrentotto di cerotti e candele arsicee, della quale cera facemo lavorare a Domenico di Marchionne spetiale libre 428 in cerotti e candele di piu ragioni e tutta rimase in sagrestia et pero non la metto ne a entrata ne a uscita generale. Io Giovanni di Lionardo canonico di casa o fatto questo ricordo perche a me fu commesso facessi lavorare la detta cera insieme con Ser Girolamo Sagrestano’. Printed in Caglioti, ‘La tomba verrocchiesca’, p. 136.

94 Cecchi, Alesssandro, ‘L'estremo omaggio al “padre e maestro di tutte le arti”: il monumento funebre di Michelangelo’, in Il Pantheon di Santa Croce a Firenze, ed. Berti, Luciano (Florence, 1993), pp. 5782.

95 Kent, Cosimo de’ Medici, p. 27.

96 Johnson, ‘Activating the Effigy’, pp. 445–59.

97 For the suggestion of crosses see Battisti, Brunelleschi, p. 354, n. 12; and McKillop, ‘Dante and lumen Christi’, p. 264. For the capanna, see Strocchia, ‘Burials in Renaissance Florence’, pp. 3–59.

98 It would appear that the sarcophagus was covered by a red carpet when commemorative offices were observed: ASL, 1922 (2), Entrata e uscita delle sagrestia, f. 43v: ‘Item adj xviij di giugno [1440] comprai bollecte per conficchare il tappetto sta in sulla sepultura di Giovanni de Medici, denari Quattro’. Exactly how the carpet was used is problematic. Cornelison argues that the sarcophagus was originally located on the wall between the sacristy and the chapel of Sts Cosmas and Damian, but that the carpet was placed over the porphyry disc (now in the table) which she believes was originally set into the floor: see ‘The Tomb of Giovanni di Bicci’, pp. 25–42. Since Cosimo de’ Medici's floor tomb was also known to have been covered with a carpet before the office that was said for his soul (see Strocchia, ‘Burials in Renaissance Florence’, p. 378), Cornelison's interpretation is enticing but unlikely. As has been shown, the placement of the sarcophagus on the side wall is improbable (see note 7). Thus, it is more likely that the carpet was used to cover the sarcophagus under the table, leaving the table top free to play its part in the ritual.

99 Bandmann, ‘Über Pastophorien’, pp. 19–58; Naujokat, Anke, Non est hic: Leon Battista Albertis Tempietto in der Cappella Rucellai (Aachen, 2011), p. 99.

100 Crum, ‘Donatello's Ascension of St John’, pp. 141–61, with earlier bibliography.

101 Saalman, Filippo Brunelleschi, p. 132.

102 Krautheimer, Richard, ‘Introduction to an “Iconography of Medieval Architecture”’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 5 (1942), pp. 133.

103 For the connection between Pisa Baptistery and the Holy Sepulchre, see Smith, Christine, The Baptistery of Pisa (New York, 1978).

104 Ibid., pp. 73, 83, 114–16.

105 Antoninus, Summa theologica (ed. Graz, 1959), Pars III, Tit. X, Cap. III, cited in Gaston, ‘Liturgy and Patronage in San Lorenzo’, p. 131, n. 87; and Gaston, Robert, ‘Sacred Place and Liturgical Space’, in Renaissance Florence: A Social History, ed. Crum, Roger and Paoletti, John (New York, 2008), pp. 331–52, esp. p. 338.

106 This possibility was first tentatively advanced in Fortuna, Aldo, The Church of S. Lorenzo and the Medicean Chapels (Florence, 1960).

107 Cianfogni, Pier Nolasco, Memorie istoriche dell'ambrosiana r. basilica di S. Lorenzo di Firenze, 3 vols (Florence, 1804–17), III, p. 170.

108 ASL, 2192, f. 9: ‘Domenicha per infine adi 22 di luglio 1459 convocati in capitulo […] essendo tuttj e predettj in sagrestia intorno al descho del marmo’, cited in Saalman, Filippo Brunelleschi, p. 132.

109 Ruschi, Pietro et al. , Donatello e la Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo (Florence, 1986), p. 106.

110 For the use of the medieval sacristy at San Lorenzo as a night choir, see Gaston, ‘Sacred Place and Liturgical Space’, p. 347.

111 Most of the documents that form part of the Medici manuscript (ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155) were drawn up either in the sacristy of the old San Lorenzo or the Old Sacristy itself.

112 ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, f. 1v.

113 ASL, Entrata e Uscita della Sagrestia, 1921 (1), f. 31v: offices for Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici were observed on 27 November and 27 December 1433, as well as on 24 February 1434.

114 ASL, Entrata e Uscita della Sagrestia, 1922 (1), f. 8v: ‘Domenicha adj 24 gennaio ebbj grossi dodici dariento dal vescovo che fu consecrato questi di nella sagrestia nuova de qualj dj come mi disse messer lo priore ne dectj quattro grossi tra Ser Giovanni Cambinj, Ser Checho, Ser Piero et Ser Girolamo che furono a cantare la messa di dicta consecration et due grossi dectj a chiericj cioè a Lorenzo Cecho e Luca. Gli altrj sej grossi mecto a entrata alla sagrestia’; ‘Domenica a dj 22 maggio [1439] ebbj grossj diecj dall'arciprete di Volterra per lo Vescovo che si consecro dicto dj nella sagrestia nuova de qualj ne cavo cinque, due per me et tre per chirericj per nostra fatica et del mio chierico’; and ASL, Entrata e Uscita della Sagrestia, 1922 (2), f. 43v.

115 I would like to thank Angela Dressen for this suggestion.

116 See note 105.

117 The importance of tomb location was highlighted by Strocchia, ‘Burials in Renaissance Florence’, pp. 365–70.

118 Moreni, Continuazione, II, pp. 345–49; Clearfield, Janis, ‘The Tomb of Cosimo de’ Medici in San Lorenzo’, Rutgers Art Review, 2 (1981), pp. 1330, esp. p. 25; Sperling, ‘Verrocchio's Medici Tombs’, p. 54; Butterfield, ‘The Funerary Monument’, pp. 153–68.

119 For Verrocchio's tomb for Piero de’ Medici, see Sperling, ‘Verrocchio's Medici Tombs’, pp. 55–61.

120 For Desiderio's tabernacle of the sacrament, see Butterfield, Andrew and Elam, Caroline, ‘Desiderio da Settignano's Tabernacle of the Sacrament’, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, 43 (1999–2000), pp. 333–57. The importance of the tomb's relationship with the Eucharistic tabernacle has already been noted in Charles Seymour, The Sculpture of Verrocchio (Greenwich, CT, 1971), p. 54. There, he advances a slightly different argument, namely that the deceased are being shown to be in a state of perpetual devotion to the Eucharist. In this regard it differs from the argument proposed here that the deceased members of the Medici family might derive holy benefit from such an arrangement.

Saving the Soul of Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici: Function and Design in the Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo

  • Paul Davies

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed