Florence and its outskirts have become what is generally referred to as “museo diffuso”, that is a well- defined area rich in artworks, ideally corresponding to the spots where the artists operated. Thus Art is overflowing the borders of the definite structure represented by the museum to involve the geographical background where the artists actually lived and worked.
A sort of homage focused more on painters than on the collecting site.
The Ghirlandaios, an extraordinarily skilled family, modernly structured according to different roles, included Domenico, his two brothers David and Benedetto, their brother-in-law Sebastiano Mainardi and his son Ridolfo, alongside with dozens of artists among whom Michelangelo Buonarroti .
Their activity spans from 1470 up to the death of Ridolfo in 1561.
An artistic saga featuring a family who witnessed the unstable fortunes of the Medici from the age of Lorenzo the Magnificent, the following period of Savonarola through the short and fragile republic up to1532 when they again succeeded in establishing their power in Florence.
The serene paintings of Domenico aimed at pictorially representing his own times. The religious issue, notwithstanding its symbolical meanings, is deeply grounded in reality. In “The Visitation” part of the Histories of the Virgin in Santa Maria Novella, he paints a gathering of Florentine ladies of his own time walking up a road. The Arno riverside and Florence are quite recognizable. With Ridolfo and followers painting still mirrors the historical events but has lost its serenity, it is getting more and more complex , emotionally perceiving the instability of the Medici’s fortunes. The “Entry of Charles VIII into Florence” by Francesco Granacci vibrantly represents the expulsion of Piero the Unfortunate, Lorenzo’s son, from Florence, but the portrait of the young Cosimo I by Ridolfo foreshadows the new and more stable re-establishing of the Medici in Florence.
Today the paintings of the Ghirlandaio family are well exhibited in the “ Castello dell’Acciaiolo “ in Scandicci . From its windows the view on the surrounding countryside echoes the backdrop of the paintings, as a contemporary connection to the spots where Domenico bought a house, later inhabited and decorated by his son Ridolfo. It rings out as a homage to this cherished area, an invitation to explore the surrounding museums, churches.
These extraordinary places surely deserve a visit.
The tour starts at Scandicci, hometown of Domenico Ghirlandaio, more exactly from the Acciaiolo Castle to which many works have actually been lent by various Florentine museums.
Hence the visitor will follow a double track in search of large and small paintings in museums, palaces, churches, villas and abbeys.
The first in Florence will include
-the frescoes in the Sala dei Gigli in the Palazzo Vecchio,
– the Sassetti Chapel in Santa Trinita,
– the Tornabuoni Chapel in Santa Maria Novella
– the Adoration of the Magi at the Museo degli Innocenti.
The other will lead to the discovery of the masterpieces by the Ghirlandaio family in the north-west of Florence, that is Scandicci, where their masterpieces can be admired in
– Badia San Salvatore e San Lorenzo
-Chiesa di san Colombano
-Chiesa di san Bartolo in Tuto
-Chiesa di San Martino alla Palma
At Campi Bisenzio and Lastra a Signa the Museums of Sacred Art of San Donnino and San Martino are worth a silent contemplation.
A charming trip into the Renaissance.
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