The Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace) was originally called the Palazzo dei Priori Novo (New Palace of the Priors) after the ruling body (Priori) of the Florentine Commune. Built beginning in 1299, it provided a location for the ruling body that was equal to the importance of Florence, then the most powerful and wealthy city in the West. Before its construction, the Priori met in a house behind a church, not exactly a location of grandeur suitable for the Florentine Priori.

After the battle of Montaperti in 1260, when the Ghibellines (who supported the Holy Roman Emperor) defeated the Florentine Guelphs (who supported the Pope), the Ghibellines in Florence led by the Uberti clan restored the old institutions and destroyed the palazzos, houses and towers of their Guelph enemies. 103 palazzos, 580 houses and 85 towers were destroyed, covering the city in rubble. When the Guelphs recovered control over the city six years later, they destroyed the palaces and homes of the Uberti clan and permanently banished them from the city, leaving their homes in rubble for many years. Finally, the Florentines cleared the rubble, bought up surrounding homes and towers, and built Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio on the ruins of the Palazzo dei Fanti and the Palazzo dell’Esecutore di Giustizia (Executor of Justice), to ensure that the Uberti would never return to Florence (they had completely erased the Uberti clan’s ancestral homes, castles and property). They also decreed that no building would ever again stand in the accursed space occupied by the Uberti properties, which is why the Palazzo Vecchio is not centered in the Piazza, as would normally be expected (it is on the edge).

Arnolfo di Cambio designed a building that provided the grandeur fitting to the Priori, but which also provided for their defense in the rough and tumble times of the late Middle Ages, when invasions and civil strife were regular occurences.

Arnolfo di Cambio’s Tower,  Marzocco
Stemma and Palazzo Vecchio Exterior
Michelozzo’s Cortile (Courtyard)

Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of 500)
Vasari’s Monumental Battle Frescoes
Ceiling Panels, Hall of 500

Monumental Staircase Grotesques
Ancient Roman Busts

Sala dell’Udienza Fresco and Gold Coffered Ceiling
Sala dei Gigli Fresco and Gold Coffered Ceiling

Donatello’s Judith and Holofernes (1460)
Niccolo Machiavelli by Santi di Tito

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Florence Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

Direct Link to the Gallery with images of the Palazzo Vecchio:

Art and Sculpture: Palazzo Vecchio

There are a number of images in this section that are not yet on the Photoshelter site.
If an image you want is not yet uploaded, contact Ron Reznick (info at bottom of page).


There are 11 Galleries in the Photoshelter Florence Collection


Arnolfo di Cambio's Tower 4157 M
1000 x 1600 (289 KB)

Torre di Arnolfo, built from 1302 to 1310, shot from the Piazzale degli Uffizi. The top of the tower is machicolated (the openings below which allow defenders to drop hot liquids and rocks on attackers), and it has Ghibelline merlons (swallowtail-shaped battlements atop the walls to protect defenders).


Arnolfo Tower Merlons Weather Vane 4157c
(detail crop — no linked image)

Swallowtail-shaped Ghibelline merlons (showing allegiance to the Emperor) and false machicolations are atop the tower, a Marzocco weather vane and the fleur-de-lis are on the spire.


Palazzo Vecchio Tower 4841
861 x 1290 (393 KB)

Shot from atop the Campanile during a rainstorm, this image shows the top of the 94 m. tower with its true machicolations under the 2nd level, the mullioned (pillared) windows above the machicolations, the Ghibelline (Imperial) merlons on the battlements, and the staircase spiraling up the pillar to the top level to disappear under the acute Gothic arch. The top level has false (closed, decorative only) machicolations, Ghibelline merlons, and a copper-roofed peak and spire with Marzocco weather vane and a fleur-de-lis at the top of the spire.


Marzocco Cortile della Dogana 5359
(customs courtyard) 836 x 1290 (274 KB)

Speaking of the Marzocco, this is the heraldic Florentine lion in all his glory, guarding the interior of the Palazzo Vecchio at his post in the Cortile della Dogana. The Marzocco is all over Florence, but the most famous one was sculpted by Donatello, now standing in the Barghello (a copy stands outside the Palazzo Vecchio, in Piazza della Signoria). The name Marzocco derives from Mars, the previous symbol, whose Roman statue was carried away in the Arno Flood of 1333.


Florence Coat of Arms
(no linked image)

This is the stemma (heraldic coat-of-arms) of Florence. It was used as the symbol of Florence on the front (obverse) of the Florin, which was the monetary standard of Europe for hundreds of years. It was also used on battle standards, shields, flags, and other heraldic devices (e.g. on buildings).

The “Red Lily” actually derives from the white iris (the color inversion dates back to the 13th century, when the Guelphs used a red fleur-de-lis on a white background (Ghibellines used a white fleur-de-lis on a red background). Guelphs won.


Palazzo Vecchio model 5597
795 x 1290 (404 KB)

A wooden model of the original structure of Palazzo Vecchio. Note how the battlements extend beyond the front of the walls with open machicolations and arches for repelling attackers. The battlements have square Guelph (Papal) merlons.


Palazzo Vecchio 5321
733 x 1290 (331 KB)

The Via dei Leoni side of the Palazzo (modified 1549-96).
Note the square, Guelph merlons (change of allegiance).


Palazzo Vecchio detail 5320
901 x 1225 (411 KB)

The portal (bottom right of the image at left) has a large rustic Medici coat of arms. The Agnus Dei are original, from the 13th century. Note the early glass windows with the small round panes (glass was expensive and very difficult to make in large pieces back in the 1300s). The windows are now protected behind an outer sheet of glass.

Note in the image at left that the machicolations on this side are false (closed). I suppose if an attack occurred, they would drop things over the battlements on the attackers.  Splat.


Palazzo Vecchio North detail 4823c
1168 x 1290 (735 KB)

Shot from atop Giotto’s Campanile, a little earlier than the previous image before the storm got really dark. This detail crop shows the north side of the Palazzo Vecchio, with some of the later extensions behind it. Behind the Guelph merlons of the battlements you can see that the building interior has been extended above the original roof. In 1549, when Cosimo I was Grand Duke and the medieval fortifications of the Palazzo Vecchio were no longer needed (or useful) for repelling invaders or civil strife, the building was extended above the original roof. The open arches in the battlements used for dropping rocks or firing on attackers were no longer required, and they were used for upper floor windows of the extension in back of the battlement wall. There were also extensive additions behind (left) of the original Palazzo Vecchio in the early 1300s by Robert of Naples, in the mid-1300s by another foreign ‘mayor’, the Duke of Athens (Walter IV of Brienne), who was probably glad he had, since one part of his modifications had been an escape tunnel and door, which he used to flee the city just ahead of his enemies. There were further changes by Cosimo de’ Medici (the Elder) in 1440-1460 (including Michelozzo’s Cortile, shown below), by Savanarola in 1494 (Hall of 500, later expanded by Cosimo I de’ Medici in the mid-1500s ,also shown below), and many other expansions by Cosimo I and his sucessors between 1549 and 1596.

At the far right center are the two north side coats of arms in the arches of the machicolations, a continuation of the coats of arms on the front. These were painted in 1353,  representing aspects and alliances of the Florentine Republic. The two shown here are the coat of arms of Louis I of Hungary (a shield with the Arpad stripes on the left and Anjou lilies on the right). Left of that is the device of Charles and Robert of Anjou, Kings of France (gold lilies on a blue field). Louis I of Hungary was very wealthy due to the gold production in Hungary (1/3 of the entire world production), and was the Pope’s Champion. Charles Martel and Robert of Anjou were the first foreign mayors of Florence (and also Papal Champions).

The two rows of window arches below the machicolations house mullioned windows, behind which are original 14th c. glazing (now protected by exterior glass). The original glass windows are made up of many small round pieces as glass was difficult to make in large sheets back then, and quite expensive. Above the mullions in marble trefoil arches are alternating crosses and fleur-de-lis, added in the 18th century to replace the deteriorating originals.

The gabled door below the lowest row of window arches is the Tramontana door, named for the biting Italian North Wind. Beside the gable are two empty niches which once contained stone Marzocco lions.

Now... on to the Cortile of Michelozzo.


Cortile Pierino da Vinci Samson 4138 M
970 x 1600 (752 KB)

Michelozzo’s Cortile (Courtyard), designed in 1453, included major modifications to the original medieval space all the way up to the roof. He created a more balanced character to the interior consistent with the architectural innovations of the Renaissance. In the pendentives above the columns are the Crest of the Church (shown) and the City of Florence. I processed this image for the exterior light (the incandescent floods in the cortile cause the frescoes and statue to yellow).


Samson and Philistine Pierino da Vinci
Palazzo Vecchio 5611 M

1000 x 1600 (266 KB)

Pierino da Vinci (1529-53) was Leonardo da Vinci’s nephew. He studied under Baccio Bandinelli and Niccolo Tribolo, and produced some exceptional work, some having at one time been attributed to other sculptors (his putti were often attributed to Tribolo, and some of his other sculptures were attributed to Michelangelo). This piece was made in the last few years of his life when he was working in Pisa. This image was processed for the mixed exterior and incandescent light.


Cortile Palazzo Vecchio 5342
798 x 1290 (521 KB)

Michelozzo’s Courtyard
(designed in 1453)

When Michelozzo designed the cortile, his plan was to give the Palazzo Vecchio a similar look to that he had just created in the Palazzo Medici. The existing portico was deteriorated, and about to fall (the supports were rotten). The original irregularly spaced Gothic-arched windows of the interior walls above the colonnade were replaced with mullioned windows with trefoil arches alternating vertically with round windows. The three wooden balconies, also in very bad shape, were removed along with the corbeled corner balconies, and the five stories (including attic) were refaced to appear to be three monumentally tall stories. The upper face at the attic level was covered with an entablature.

Michelozzo rebuilt the original portico arcade and faced it with stucco. By removing the balconies and other features on the upper walls of the courtyard interior, Michelozzo significantly widened and brightened the space. By combining the exterior facades of the first floor and mezzanine into what looks like a single story, and hiding the attic behind the entablature, he reduced the clutter of the medieval five-storied courtyard.

The Mannerist frescoes on the walls represent the Habsburg estates in Austria (the lunettes contain symbols of the Guilds of Florence, and the vaults are painted with grotesques, mythological figures, and ladies in 16th c. dress on swings, etc.). They were painted by Giorgio Vasari and Marco da Faenza in 1565 to prepare for the wedding of Francesco I de’ Medici (son of Cosimo I) and Johanna of Austria, the sister of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II, but due to time constraints the frescoes were done a secco (dry plaster) so they are in bad shape. The smooth columns of Michelozzo’s design were faced with figured gilt stucco above machined grooves.


Cortile Palazzo Vecchio 5344
796 x 1290 (507 KB)

For the scenes of cities of the Austrian Empire, Vasari used Bastiano Veronese, Giovanni Lombardi, Cesare Baglioni and Turino di Piemonte (and Marco da Faenza).


Cortile Detail Palazzo Vecchio 5346 M
1000 x 1600 (693 KB)

The scenes of cities were all done a secco (dry plaster), and as they have been subjected to 450 years of weather, they have deteriorated (true fresco is done on wet plaster). Many of the vaults were done in true fresco, and look better.


Cortile Vault Detail Palazzo Vecchio 5344 M
1500 x 1290 (757 KB)


Cortile Vault Detail Palazzo Vecchio 5334
1386 x 1200 (648 KB)


Cortile Vault Palazzo Vecchio 5350
1500 x 1092 (751 KB)

A close detail crop of this vault is below.


Cortile Vault detail Palazzo Vecchio 5350 M
1500 x 1290 (707 KB)


Cortile Vault detail Palazzo Vecchio 5348 M
1500 x 1290 (751 KB)


Cortile Palazzo Vecchio 5353 M
1200 x 1600 (746 KB)

This image above shows many of the elements of da Faenza’s Cortile vault designs.
This section also happens to be in pretty good shape, considering it was painted a secco
(dry plaster) along with the rest of the cortile 450 years ago. At the top center is a multishaded
circular fan-shaped object. We’ll use that as a reference. Below the fan, winged cornucopias (an
odd mythological creature with the front legs and head of a male goat, wings, and a serpentine tail
ending in a flower shape) fly away from what looks like a flaming brazier atop an arch, flanked by two
disembodied pointed heads. Under the arch, a winged cherub prepares to make a basketball-style
free-throw with a ball from the Medici coat of arms. On all sides of this fantastic scene are winged
creatures that Linnaeus never heard of, disembodied heads with wings growing out of their ears,
winged wheeled vehicles driving themselves, plus the typical angels, birds, and naked ladies.

That is only the space near the arch. It goes on and on... a tremendously imaginative scene.


Cortile Column Detail Palazzo Vecchio 5607 M
1500 x 1290 (643 KB)

Detail of the stucco column ornamentation, by Lorenzo Marignolli and Santi Buglioni.
When completed in 1565 for the wedding of Francesco and Johanna, the stucco was gilded.

Return to the top of this page


Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Florence Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

Direct Link to the Gallery with images of the Palazzo Vecchio:

Art and Sculpture: Palazzo Vecchio

There are a number of images in this section that are not yet on the Photoshelter site.
If an image you want is not yet uploaded, contact Ron Reznick (info at bottom of page).


There are 11 Galleries in the Photoshelter Florence Collection


Hall of 500 Palazzo Vecchio 5513
1500 x 1092 (483 KB)

The East Frescoes, the Udienza (Audience Stage),
Baccio Bandinelli and Vincenzo de’ Rossi’s statues,
and the spectacular Vasari ceiling oil paintings.

A tremendously difficult shot taken against the light. The strong light coming in through the windows was a full six stops brighter than the interior, so by underexposing .67 stops, I was actually underexposing by over 4 stops to avoid having the entire scene washed out. I considered using HDR technique, shooting several images at various different exposures and combining them, but I thought doing it the old fashioned way would be a good challenge. Processing was a nightmare.


Vasari East Frescoes Hall of 500 5509
1500 x 1137 (535 KB)

Giorgio Vasari’s monumental battle scene frescoes depicting famous battle victories of the Florentines over Pisa, Siena, Porto Ercole and Leghorn (Livorno). Porto Ercole (Hercules) was captured from the Sienese. Leghorn was captured from the Pisans. Both are ancient west coast ports.

The enormous frescoes are situated above Vincenzo de’
Rossi’s sculptures of the Labors of Hercules (all horribly
lit by closely-spaced floodlamps that point straight up).

Below, I have provided a large (2000 pixel) composite
of the Vasari Frescoes, and large individual images.

Salone dei Cinquecento was built in 1495-96, during the leadership of Girolamo Savanarola after the exile of
Piero de’ Medici (1494), by Simone del Pollaiuolo (Cronaca), Francesco di Domenico, and Antonio da Sangallo.
Built during a revival of the Florentine Republic, it was built to house the 500 members of the Greater Council.
Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were originally commissioned to paint frescoes of battle scenes on the
walls, but Michelangelo only created cartoons (which were mostly stolen by young artists and Bandinelli),
and Leonardo’s fresco was partially damaged when he used braziers to try to increase drying speed,
and they melted the wax he had added to his paint. What work he did was covered up by the
work done in the 1560s by Vasari (seen here), but many art historians hope that he did
not destroy Leonardo’s fresco: recent examinations reveal that there is an interstitial
wall behind Vasari’s fresco, and a banner in Victory at Marciano reads: Cerca Trova
(Search and Find), which created the hope that Vasari did not destroy Leonardo’s work,
but instead built a wall to cover it before painting his frescoes (preserving Leonardo’s fresco).
Vasari also enlarged the hall to create a space where Cosimo I could conduct his court activities.


Vasari West Frescoes Hall of 500 5402
1500 x 1132 (683 KB)

The West Frescoes, below some of Vasari’s ceiling paintings of scenes from the life of Cosimo I.

I provided the shot above and the previous one not to show the frescoes themselves, as presentation
 at an angle like this is not ideal, but to show the frescoes in the context of the room. Detail shots are below.


Vasari Hall of 500 Frescoes LG
2000 x 1000 (741 KB)

The Vasari Frescoes
(Composite will open in a second window or tab)

This composite is available as an SXXL (5520 x 2730)
or in XXL (5520 x 1380), upper (Pisa) or lower (Siena) halves.

The individual images are available in VLG.
Contact me for custom sizes.
(size chart on Ordering page)

Top, left to right:

Defeat of the Pisans at the Tower of San Vicenzo;
Maximilian of Austria Attempts the Conquest of Leghorn
(also called: Siege of Livorno Lifted in 1496);
Pisa Attacked by the Florentine Troops
(also called: The Battle of Stampace in 1499)

Bottom, left to right:

The Taking of Siena
(also called: Conquest of the Fortress near the Porta Camollia in 1554);
The Conquest of Porto Ercole;
The Victory of Cosimo I at Marciano in Val di Chiana
(also called the Battle of Scannagallo in the Val di Chiana in 1554)


Vasari Defeat of Pisans San Vicenzo 5365
1500 x 912 (507 KB)

Defeat of the Pisans at the Torre di San Vicenzo in 1505

Far left, in the red cap below the flag, is Antonio Giacomini, who engineered the victory.
He was also responsible for much of the victory in the Battle of Torre San Vincenzo (below)


Vasari Pisa Attacked by Florentines 5368
1500 x 921 (508 KB)

Pisa Attacked by the Florentine Troops
(also called: The Battle of Stampace in 1499)

Far left: Paolo Vitelli (mounted, holding the baton of command with coat of arms on his chest).
Background: Pisa with the bastion of Stampace breached and a dirt counter-bastion inside the walls.


Vasari Conquest of Leghorn and Porto Ercole
1500 x 1019 (539 KB)

Maximilian of Austria Attempts the Conquest of Leghorn
(also called: Siege of Livorno Lifted in 1496);
The Conquest of Porto Ercole

(Two ports on the Tyrhennian Sea, north and south of the Island of Elba)
Cosimo purchased the Island of Elba from Genoa in 1548.

The connection of the left painting to Pisa and
the right painting to Siena are explained below.

Maximilian of Austria Attempts the Conquest of Livorno:

During the Italian Wars, Maximilian I of Austria attempted to take hold
of territory in Italy, first in Milan, then Pisa, then he beseiged Leghorn, but
had to quit, marched back to Pisa and then returned to Austria in disgrace.

In the painting, Emperor Maximilian is mounted on the right, holding a baton, with a
 chain of the Order of the Golden Fleece around his neck and a double eagle helmet.
He leads the forces allied with Pisa away from Livorno (in the background, the
Livorno and Genoese Fleets, with Imperial Troops being lost in a storm).

The Conquest of Porto Ercole:

In 1552, an uprising in Siena drove out the Imperial Garrison and allowed French troops
to enter the city. Cosimo I realized that he had toconquer Siena to consolidate his power,
as they were allied with the French and were opposed to the Medici and Imperial Power
(they also harbored Florentine outlaws). In 1555, Giangiacomo de’ Medici was sent on
the expedition (Giangiacomo is at right, with the baton of command). This led to the
Battle of Marciano in Val di Chiana (see below). It was also necessary to attack
Porto Ercole, where Sienese had taken refuge with French and German soldiers.
After a siege of 24 days and the conquest of surrounding fortresses, the Medici won.


Vasari Taking of Siena 5385
1500 x 921 (467 KB)

The Taking of Siena
(also called: Conquest of the Fortress near the Porta Camollia in 1554)

Foreground left: Giangiacomo de’ Medici (mounted, holding the baton of command).

See the description below of the Final Battle for Siena.


Vasari Victory Cosimo Marciano 5390
1500 x 921 (499 KB)

The Victory of Cosimo I at Marciano in Val di Chiana
(also called the Battle of Scannagallo in the Val di Chiana in 1554)

Left: the Sienese, French and Florentine exiles under Piero Stozzi
are running from the field, chased by Florentine forces on the right
under command of GianGiacomo de’Medici, Marchese di Marignano.

This was the decisive battle finalizing the defeat of the Republic of Siena
in their war against the Duchy of Florence. Their loss of this battle spelled
doom for the Republic of Siena, which ceased to exist and was absorbed
into the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. A major coup for Cosimo I (bad for Siena).

The Republic of Siena was Cosimo’s last remaining rival in Tuscany, and the only
city-state left to challenge his power. With the support of Emperor Charles V, Cosimo
launched a major campaign against the Sienese, commanded by Piero Strozzi, who was
a fierce rival of the Medici. The campaign lasted nearly seven months, with a long siege of
Siena and pitched battles all over the surrounding area. The final battle lasted only two hours
and the Sienese were completely routed. The neighboring castles fell a few days later, and
the Siege of Siena tightened. Over the next several months, the city starved, tried to
send out a group of mercenaries for food (who were destroyed) and finally,
after a 15 month long siege, The Republic of Siena surrendered.


Ceiling Hall of 500 5392
841 x 1200 (704 KB)

The central section of the ceiling of the Hall of 500,
(about 75% shown). These are the primary 21 panels,
with scenes from the Life of Cosimo I and Scenes
from the History of Florence. Giorgio Vasari and
his crew created these in oil in 1565. Below is
a detail shot of the central (round) image
seen above: Apotheosis of Cosimo I.

Of the panels that can be seen in this image, the octagon top right is Defeat of Venetians in the Casentino. Above it, the rectangle: Naval Battle between Florentines and Pisans. The rectangle below it is: Battle of Barbagiani, and the square right of the circle is: Triumphal Entry into Florence after the Conquest of Siena. Others are difficult to see. Neat ceiling.


Corner Detail Palazzo Vecchio 5404
795 x 1290 (486 KB)

Right: bust of Pope Clement VII,
Giulio di Giuliano de’ Medici, by Gino Lorenzi;
(above: Medici coat of arms surmounted by Papal Keys)

Left: bust of Lorenzo II de’ Medici, Duke of Urbino
(ruler of Florence: 1513 until he died of plague in 1519)
The bust was sculpted by Alfonso Lombardi.
(above: Medici coat of arms surmounted by Ducal Crown)

Top: Leo X Delivers a Blessing.


Ceiling Panels Hall of 500 Scenes from the Life of Cosimo I 5362
1500 x 1110 (727 KB)

Detail of the primary section of the ceiling over the Salone dei Cinquecento:

Top left: The Apotheosis of Cosimo I de’ Medici: Cosimo is surrounded by
26 putti and is crowned with an oak wreath by the personification of Florence;

Lower left: Eugenius IV Seeks Refuge in Florence (background: Livorno);
Eugenius IV, blessing and disembarking under the papal umbrella with
various cardinals, is received by Florentine ambassadors kneeling in obeisance.
(right foreground: Neptune, nereid, triton blowing a conch).

Top right: Triumphal Entry into Florence after the Conquest of Pisa;
Bottom right: Conquest of Monteriggioni


Leo X’s Allies Retake Milan 5408 M
1500 x 1325 (622 KB)

An oil painting on wood by Giorgio Vasari, Giovanni Stradano and Marco da Faenza on the
ceiling of the Room of Leo X. Giovanni de’ Medici was a son of Lorenzo the Magnificent. He
became a cardinal at the age of 13, and took the name of Leo X when elected pope in 1513.

Early in his papacy, the Kings of France (Louis XII and Francis I) were allied with Venice and
entered Italy to take the Duchy of Milan and the Kingdom of Naples. Leo X wanted peace with
France and Venice to gain their aid in the expedition against the Turks, and signed a treaty with
France giving them Milan in exchange for protection of Florence and Rome. Near the end of his life
in 1521, Leo X allied with the Swiss, England and the Holy Roman Emperor to recover Milan and the
provinces of Parma and Piacenza. The victory was achieved in November 1521 just before Leo X died.


Leo X Hall of 500 Palazzo Vecchio 5372
1500 x 1137 (579 KB)

Center, Bartolommeo (Baccio) Bandinelli’s “Leo X Blessing”
(finished by Vincenzo de’ Rossi after Bandinelli’s death).

In the niches, left is Bandinelli’s Giovanni dalle Bande Nere (father of Cosimo I) and at
right: Alessandro de’ Medici, first duke of Florence (called di Mori or Il Moro “The Moor”)
because of his dark complexion. Duke Alessandro was assassinated (1537) by his cousin,
Lorenzino de’ Medici, who then fled to Bologna, then to Venice, where Cosimo I caught up with
him (an assassin in Cosimo’s pay murdered Lorenzino outside his lover’s house in Venice, 1548).

Leo X Blessing
Bartolomeo (Baccio) Bandinelli

Mounted on the Udienza (audience stage), built by
Bandinelli for Cosimo I to receive ambassadors and
citizens, is the monumental statue of Leo X Blessing.

This sculpture, one of the last of Bartolomeo Bandinelli’s life, and the sculpture of Clement VII Crowning Charles V (below) are two of the best of his large-scale sculptures.

Baccio Bandinelli was, according to Vasari, obsessed with jealousy of Benvenuto Cellini and Michelangelo, and was driven by this jealousy to attempt numerous monumental sculptures that never really came off as well as his small terracotta models for those same sculptures. He was a brilliant draftsman and an excellent small-scale sculptor, but when he started on a colossus, he was ill-equipped to handle the laborious carving involved, and the finished work was never as good as his models.

His large works never achieved the recognition given those by his rivals Michelangelo and Cellini. He later tried to sabotage Benvenuto Cellini’s career. That didn’t work out well either...

Bandinelli died before finishing this work, and his
assistant on the job (Vincenzo de’ Rossi) finished it.

Leo X (Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici) was the first
Medici Pope, and the last non-priest to become Pope.
The second son of Lorenzo de’ Medici (the Magnificent),
his cousin (Giulio di Giuliano de’ Medici) would later
succeed Leo X as Pope Clement VII (see below).



Leo X Hall of 500 Palazzo Vecchio 5380 M
980 x 1600 (503 KB)


Leo X Apse Hall of 500 Palazzo Vecchio 5384
1500 x 1092 (581 KB)

Detail of the gilded reliefs in the Apse over Leo X’s head.


Clement VII Crowning Charles V Hall of 500 5378 M
1200 x 1600 (503 KB)

Kneeling before Pope Clement VII to receive the Imperial Crown is Charles V.
The statue of Charles V was done by Giovanni Caccini (1594) to replace the clay
version which was emplaced with the marble of Clement VII by Bandinelli. Clement VII
is seated, wearing the full pontifical robes and the Tiara, and holds the Imperial Crown.

Bartolommeo Bandinelli was the sculptor and painter who trained Giorgio Vasari. He created
a number of sculptures in Florence including the large sculpture of Hercules and Cacus in
Piazza della Signoria. He created the copy of Laocoon in the Ufizzi Gallery and many
other works, but never was able to achieve his goal of equality with Michelangelo.

Return to the top of this page


Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Florence Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

Direct Link to the Gallery with images of the Palazzo Vecchio:

Art and Sculpture: Palazzo Vecchio

There are a number of images in this section that are not yet on the Photoshelter site.
If an image you want is not yet uploaded, contact Ron Reznick (info at bottom of page).


There are 11 Galleries in the Photoshelter Florence Collection


Barrel Vault Staircase Grotesques 5412 M
993 x 1600 (487 KB)

The vault above he first level of the Monumental staircase
between the lower halls and the Apartment of the Elements.
Decorated with Grotesques and Fantasies, this first image
shows two putti riding a Turtle with a Sail (detail below).


Barrel Vault Staircase Grotesques detail 5410c
800 x 1290 (443 KB)

The putti in the upper oval shown above are playing with
a Cornucopia, a mythical creature with the foreparts and
head of a goat, and a serpentine tail ending in a sort of
flower-shaped object. See Fruits of the Earth for details.


Putti Turtle with Sail 5412c
(no linked image)

Detail crop of Putti riding a Turtle with a Sail.
The Turtle with a Sail was Cosimo’s impresa (personal symbol).


Ceiling Vault Fantasies Grotesques 5413 M
1645 x 1290 (881 KB)

The Vaults over the monumental Staircase between the rooms on the lower floor and
the Apartment of the Elements were painted with Grotesques by Marco Marchetti (da Faenza).
This is the fresco decorating the cupola above the arch at the end of the staircase shown in the set above.
It has putti, dragons, phoenixes and other mythological creatures, winged disembodied heads and other figures.


Barrel Vault Staircase Fantasies 5417M
1054 x 1600 (549 KB)

Marco Marchetti (da Faenza) was Vasari’s expert
in the art of the Grotesque, but he also was superb at
creating the Fantasy. In the second level of the staircase,
he decorated the vaults more in the Fantasy genre and
used less of the Grotesque-style art. He alluded to
the Medici symbols and coat of arms in a very
creative way, especially with the putti shown
below playing with an old Medici symbol
(the gold ring with diamonds) and
putti playing with five red balls
and the world, creating a
Medici Coat of Arms.


Putti with Medici Ring 5420c
detail of putti with Medici diamond ring symbol
(no linked image)

Below is an inverted detail crop of the putti playing
with balls and the world, forming the Medici coat of arms.
I have provided a large image of that inverted detail crop.


Barrel Vault Staircase Fantasies (inverted) Detail 5415 M
1500 x 1290 (555 KB)

Putti playing with balls, creating a Medici coat of arms. This image is rotated 180 degrees.


Barrel Vault Dome Staircase 5420
795 x 1290 (453 KB)

The end of the second level staircase with the putti
and the diamond ring, and a spectacular vault dome.


Vault Dome Staircase Fantasies 5423 M
1020 x 1600 (590 KB)

Detail of the dome, with mythological figures, love scenes,
grotesques, fruits and herbs, and more Medici red balls.
Marco da Faenza really had a fantastic imagination.


Roman Bust Palazzo Vecchio 5585
795 x 1290 (277 KB)

The Medici were great collectors of antiquities. Sculptures and other antiquities were found around Rome when any construction was done around the city and the ancient villas. The Medici had the word out that they would buy any antiquities, so when something was found by a treasure hunter or a construction crew, it often ended up in Medici hands. This is one of the busts that was found in the ruins of a Roman villa.


Antinous Palazzo Vecchio 5587
795 x 1290 (193 KB)

Hadrian searched for the most beautiful youth in the Empire and found Antinous. Antinous drowned in the Nile in 130 at 19, and Hadrian was devastated. He deified Antinous (made him a god), a process previously reserved for the Imperial family. Cities were founded in his name, temples were founded, and statues of Antinous as Apollo, Osiris, and other gods were created. His is the most well-preserved face of antiquity.


Medici Bust Palazzo Vecchio 5605
795 x 1290 (248 KB)

This bust is using exquisite stone for the drapery. It is one of the more interesting ancient busts in the Palazzo Vecchio, and it reminded me of another Medici bust I saw in the hallway
of the Uffizi Gallery next door... the bust of Emperor Trajan.


Trajan 4756 M
1000 x 1600 (285 KB)

This is a composite bust. The ancient body of the bust, made of Greek Marble (c. 110 AD) has had the head of Trajan (Roman Emperor, 98-117 AD) grafted onto it. The drapery is onyx and green brecchia, and the most stunning I have seen. The composite is undated, but is more recent than the body.


Coffered Ceiling Sala dell' Udienza Palazzo Vecchio 5562
1500 x 1092 (1045 KB)

The ceiling images are tremendously highly detailed, and are large files (note sizes).

The Sala dell’Udienza (Audience Hall) used to be the Sala Grande and Hall of Justice
until it was split into two large rooms in 1472 by Benedetto and Giuliano da Maiano, who
were also responsible for the monumental carved, coffered ceilings laminated with 24K gold.
Probably one of the most exceptional ceilings ever made (although the one the Maianos did for
the Sala dei Gigli, shown below, is not far behind it), the ceiling for the Sala dell’Udienza
took six years to carve and to laminate with pure gold, and it must have cost a fortune.
The carved frieze around the ceiling is decorated with Marzocco (Florentine lions),
garlands of flowers and ribbons which are also laminated with gold. Below, is
a large detail crop showing the fresco frieze and the carved ceiling frieze,
along with one row of the carved ceiling coffers to reduce the file size.


Sala dell'Udienza frieze ceiling detail 5562c
1727 x 831 (677 KB)

The frescoes were done 70 years later, by Francesco de’ Rossi (Il Salviati) in 1543-45.
They illustrate scenes from the life of Furius Camillus, with references to Cosimo I de’ Medici
to tie Cosimo to Marcus Furius Camillus, who was honored with four Roman Triumphs.
Because of Camillus’ efforts, the nascent Roman civilization of the 4th c. BC gained
70% greater territory and became the most powerful nation in Italy. The comparison
to Cosimo I de’ Medici, who headed the most militaristic period in Florentine
history and who unified all of Tuscany under his rule was obvious and apt.
Another image is further below showing detail of a section of the fresco.


Coffered Ceiling Sala dell'Udienza
Palazzo Vecchio detail 5560
776 x 1290 (818 KB)


Coffered Ceiling Sala dell'Udienza
Palazzo Vecchio detail 5560c
1295 x 1000 (1107 KB)

To keep the file size below the stratosphere, I put
this image up at 1295 x 1000 (and it is still over 1MB).

This is a detail crop of a section of the ceiling
from the previous image, and shows the exceptional
detail of the carved coffers created and laminated by
Giuliano da Maiano. This is spectacular artwork and
 illustrates the tremendous power and wealth of the
city of Florence at the end of the 15th century.

Imagine sitting beneath this ceiling and trying
to conduct the city’s business. I’ll bet that
little got done for the first week or two
after this ceiling was installed. Lots
of sore necks though, I’m sure.


Coffered Ceiling Sala dell'Udienza
Palazzo Vecchio detail 5566
960 x 1290 (998 KB)

A tight shot of a small section, taken while lying
on the floor looking straight up (that got some looks).
The only way to get a rock solid hold (slow exposures).


Coffered Ceiling Sala dell'Udienza
Palazzo Vecchio detail 5566c
1050 x 1175 (999 KB)

This is a detail crop from the previous image, showing
one full section of the pattern. Again, to keep file size
below the stratospheric, I have created a smaller
than usual file (1050 x 1175), but it is still 1MB.
This is a tremendously detailed ceiling, and
in this image, you can see every bit of it.
I was awestruck, and you will be too.


Fresco Sala dell'Udienza Palazzo Vecchio 5565
1500 x 1092 (657 KB)

A section of the Stories of Marcus Furius Camillus by Francesco de’ Rossi (Il Salviati), 1543-45.
The Furius frescoes were done in the style of Raphael and represent the Roman fresco tradition.

This fresco is outside the Chapel of the Signoria, the other small chapel on the 2nd floor, dedicated to St. Bernard. The chapel was for the use of the ruling body of Florence (the Signoria). Its nine priori would get their spiritual guidance here. This was also the chapel where Girolamo Savonarola said his last prayers before being burned at the stake (an apt ending for the man who carried out the Bonfire of the Vanities).

Directly above the door is Christ’s monogram IHS, an inscription, and a plaque in honor of Christ (1529).


Detail Sala dell'Udienza Portal 5565c
1077 x 1155 (571 KB)

Detail of the inscription, Medallion and Fresco.

The inscription says (in Latin):
“Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God Reigns in Eternity”

Inside the chapel are magnificent frescoes by Ridolfo
Ghirlandaio, which include The Holy Trinity and
the Annunciation on the wall facing the altar.

At right:  “The Holy Family” (1514)
by Fra’ Mariano Graziadei da Pescia
(da Pescia was Ghirlandaio’s pupil)


Chapel of the Signoria Palazzo Vecchio 5559
796 x 1290 (354 KB)

Madonna and Child with Saint Elizabeth
and the infant St. John the Baptist.


Frescoes Hall of Lilies Ghirlandaio 5574
1500 x 1128 (686 KB)

The Apotheosis of St. Zenobius and the Cycle of Illustrious Men.

Atop the door on the left is Marcus Furius Camillus with the Flag of Triumph. Atop the door on the right are Trajan Decius, Scipio Africanus, and Cicero. The central scene was damaged when a portal to the map room was opened during Vasari’s modifications. Above the fresco is a frieze of gold-plated Marzocco lions flanking heraldic shields that matches the gold-laminated coffered ceiling. The fresco is described below:

St. Zenobius is rendered enthroned, giving a blessing, flanked by St. Stephen and
St. Lawrence in a vault open to the air, in front of a landscape (barely seen).
Perspective has been rendered on the vault, and Ghirlandaio has
matched the ceiling of the vault to the pattern on the walls.
In the lunette above the frieze over St. Zenobius is a
Madonna and Child with two Angels Praying.

Each of the sections are rendered inside of an arch,
with painted scrollwork on the body of each column and
Corinthian capitals, white in the center and gold-accented
on the two side arches. Atop each capital is a gold-painted
fleur-de-lis pattern that matches the frieze above St. Zenobius.
The arches are decorated with white garlands and gold flowers.
At the apex of each arch is a heroic figure in relief, standing on a
scroll, white over the center and gold-painted on the side arches.

The arch-enclosed sections are separated by painted pilasters,
with an elaborate painted alternating leaf-and-flower scrollwork,
gold-painted Corinthian capitals. The spandrels contain medallions
representing Caligula, Vespasian, Nero, Faustina and Antoninus Pius.
Between all elements is a field of blue with the gold fleur-de-lis of France.
At the base of each pilaster is a Marzocco heraldic lion holding a banner.
The left banner is a cross of the people and the right is the Florentine Lily.

The room (and fresco) were patterned with the French fleur-de-lis to honor
the Anjou (Charles, Duke of Calabria and Robert of Anjou) who had aided
them militarily, controlling and protecting the city. The monarch were tyrants
though, and did not last long. The room was decorated long after the Anjou
had left, but it was done to honor the alliance and the French ambassadors.

Domenico Ghirlandaio painted this fresco in the Sala dei Gigli (Hall of Lilies) in 1482.
He was Ridolfo Ghirlandaio’s father, and was the teacher of Michelangelo Buonarroti.
He used a fresco style called Buon Fresco which used no tempera in the paint, but
he was very fond of brilliant color. He did tempera work as well, and in those he
often created extremely highly saturated works that sometimes drew critical
comments on his color sense. He died in 1494 at the age of 44 or 45.


Ceiling Sala dei Gigli Palazzo Vecchio 5576
796 x 1290 (896 KB)

Note the file size. This image shows Benedetto and
Giuliano da Maiano’s carved, coffered gold-laminated
ceiling (1472-76) for the Sala dei Gigli (Hall of Lilies).


Ceiling Sala dei Gigli detail 5576c
750 x 800 (409 KB)

Another spectacular da Maiano ceiling adorns the
Sala dei Gigli, this one patterned with gold fleur-de-lis
of France on a blue field within carved gold-laminated
coffers in a hexagonal pattern that repeats across
the entire ceiling. It is really quite beautiful.

Even though the portrait image to the left is only 796 x 1200 (plus title bar) it is 900 KB. For those who want to examine the detail, I took pity on you and created this clip with one section of the ceiling. It shows in great detail the spectacular carved ceiling, yet it is only 409 KB as it only shows one section of the ceiling. After the other ceiling I decided to give you a break, so to speak, while still giving you the option of examining the detail if you want to.


Judith Holofernes Donatello
Sala dei Gigli 5571 M
1000 x 1600 (483 KB)

Judith and Holofernes (1460) was one of Donatello’s last works. Like his David (in the Barghello), it was created in the round (meant to be seen from all sides), and along with David was one of the first Renaissance statues to be created in the round. They were both done for Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, where the two original free-standing Renaissance statues stood together (until they were split up when the Medici were temporarily ousted from Florence in 1494), with Judith being moved to the front of the Palazzo Vecchio. A copy now stands in that position. This is the original.


Judith Holofernes Donatello
Sala dei Gigli detail 5571
800 x 1290 (450 KB)

Judith is considered to be the symbol of liberty and the victory of the weak over the oppressor. It depicts the assassination of the Assyrian General Holofernes by Judith, the Jewish widow, who got into the General’s tent by promising to inform on the Jewish leaders, then when he was drunk, she decapitated him and took the head back to her Jewish compatriots.

The statue was originally gilded (some gold remains on the sword). The base of the statue resembles a cushion, similar to the St. Mark which Donatello created for Orsanmichele.


Niccolo Machiavelli 5581
959 x 1290 (401 KB)

Santi di Tito’s Polychrome stucco of Niccolo Machiavelli. The face was probably modelled from his death-mask as was his famous portrait of Machiavelli (Santi di Tito wasn’t born until 9 years after Machiavelli had died in 1527). It is placed in the Old Chancellery, which was Machiavelli’s office when he was The Secretary of the Republic from 1498 to 1512.

Machiavelli was the author of The Prince, Discourses on Livy,and numerous other political discourses as well as drama, poetry, financial and military science, history and biography.


Niccolo Machiavelli 5583
795 x 1290 (236 KB)

Niccolo Machiavelli is considered to be the founder of political science. His name has entered the language to indicate a keen, subtle but ruthless individual for whom the end justifies the means. His philosophy on politics is popular among some politicians (one reason why many people distrust politicians).

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Florence Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

Direct Link to the Gallery with images of the Palazzo Vecchio:

Art and Sculpture: Palazzo Vecchio

There are a number of images in this section that are not yet on the Photoshelter site.
If an image you want is not yet uploaded, contact Ron Reznick (info at bottom of page).


There are 11 Galleries in the Photoshelter Florence Collection


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