A «Festschrift» in Honor of Professor Edward J. Olszewski
Edited By Jennifer H. Finkel, Michael D. Morford and Dena M. Woodall
Michelangelo at San Lorenzo: The Sculptural Program for the Façade JENNIFER FINKEL 7
Jennifer Finkel Michelangelo at San Lorenzo: The Sculptural Program for the Façade The year was 1516 in Florence. The Medici were recently back in power in their native city after an eighteen year exile; and Giovanni de’ Medici, the second son of Lorenzo il Magnifico, had been elected Pope Leo X just three years prior. In this year, in an atmosphere of relative discontent, dissention, and insecurity for the Medici in Florence, Leo X announced a competition to design a façade for his family’s parish church of San Lorenzo. The façade commission was irrefutably the most prestigious commission of the sixteenth century in Florence. In a fierce competition between Michelangelo, Antonio and Giuliano da Sangallo, Jacopo Sansovino, Baccio d’Agnolo, and Raphael, the Pope initially entrusted Michelangelo with the sculptural plan, while Ja- copo Sansovino and Baccio d’Agnolo were responsible for the architecture. The rivalry among the competitors continued but ultimately, Michelangelo prevailed: Leo X granted him the title capomaestro and assigned him the entire project for both the architecture and the sculpture. Having freed himself of collaborators, Michelangelo da solo would envi- sion an ingenious design, a solution that had eluded Renaissance architects up to that point: how to apply a façade with classical orders to the basilican plan church. Not only that, but Michelangelo’s façade was to be entirely made of marble⎯the first all marble façade since Roman antiquity. What was more was that this all marble façade would support nearly...
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