Sculpture

In Florence, sculptures are nearly everywhere you look. There are courtyard sculptures, fountain sculptures,
sculptures mounted on buildings, sculptures in front of buildings, sculptures in the Piazzas... you get the idea.
The place is literally infested with sculptures. Oh, right... there are also sculptures in the churches, in museums,
on the churches, on the museums... there may be nearly as many sculptures in Florence as there are people.
Entire mountains of marble and mother lodes of tin and copper went into artistic representations of people,
religious and mythological subjects, animals, fantasy... created by the finest artists of the Gothic period,
the Low- and High-Renaissance, the Mannerist and Baroque periods and the Neo-Classical period.

Below, I have displayed a sampling of some of the sculptures in Florence. There are others
salted around the pages in the Florence section, and I have brought a few in from other
pages to display on this page. I included links to pages containing related material.

Click an image to open a larger version
Use your back button to return to this page.

Uffizi Gallery Sculptures
Hercules and Nessus (Uffizi)
da Fabriano Adoration of the Magi

Medici Roman Busts (Antinous)
Putto with Dolphin (del Verrocchio)

Palazzo Vecchio Sculptures
Judith and Holofernes (Donatello)
Beheading of John the Baptist (Danti)

Menelaus Supporting the Body of Patroclus
Hercules Beating the Centaur Nessus (Giambologna)

Neptune Fountain (Ammannati)
Fish-Soup Fountains (Pietro Tacca)

Niche and Courtyard Sculptures
Hope, Poverty, and Dante Alighieri

St. James and St. Peter
Piazzale Michelangelo and the Pieta

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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 Florentine Sculpture

Art and Sculpture of Florence

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).

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There are 11 Galleries in the Photoshelter Florence Collection

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MediciCrest_Museo_Duomo_4324


Medici Crest Museo Duomo 4324
784 x 1290 (359 KB)

Above the Museo dell’Opera dei Duomo,
(the Museum of the Cathedral of Florence).

The Medici Crest honoring Cosimo I de’ Medici,
Duke of Florence and first Grand Duke of Tuscany

The Renaissance probably would not have happened if the Medici or someone like them had not come along. Back then, artists did not do work on speculation... without commissions there would not have been much artwork, and most of the artists would have been bricklayers or the like. The Medici, nearly from the beginning of the dynasty, commissioned many kinds of art: paintings, sculptures, architecture, terracotta, jewelry, furniture and other decorative artworks... in short, just about anything that you might consider art was sponsored by the Medici for their villas, palazzos and churches. The Medici were the primary patrons of art, and a large percentage of the art created before, during and after the Renaissance was created for or sponsored by the Medici.

The Medici got their start in the countryside north of Florence in the 12th century, and by the middle of the 13th century began to gain social position through strategic marriages and partnerships. Eventually, they were connected to many of the elite families in Tuscany, and by the 14th century they gained prominence in the wool trade, an important Guild in medieval Europe. By the end of the 14th century, Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici had founded the Medici bank, which became the most powerful bank in Florence, an early multi-national company, and made him one of the richest men in Florence. His son Cosimo the Elder became the first of the Medici to be ‘unofficial’ heads of state, and with successive generations the power of the Medici grew.

As their power grew, so did their appetite for art, and the result was the blossoming of art we know as the Renaissance.

Cosimo I de’ Medici founded the Uffizi (Offices), and
populated the corridors with sculptures and portraiture.
It is one of the oldest and most famous museums in the
Western World. Below are some sculptures from the Uffizi.

Apollo_Praxiteles_4761M


Apollo Praxiteles 4761 M
896 x 1475 (229 KB)

Mannerist-period (Caccini) restoration of a 2nd century AD Greek copy of an Apollo Sauroctonos by Praxiteles (330 BC). Praxiteles was famous in the ancient world for his depiction of the softness and radiance of skin and his ability to bring soul to marble.  Click this link for my image of a Roman copy of Praxiteles’ “Aphrodite of Knidos”, (673 KB, 1500 x 2550). Shot taken at the Getty Museum (link to Art section).

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Athlete with a Vase Uffizi 4755 M
1000 x 1600 (230 KB)

This Roman copy of a 5th century BC Attic Greek original was restored incorrectly, as has been detailed in several scholarly treatises (e.g. the Carnegie Institution publication of Olympic Victor Monuments, 1921). It represents the type of sculpture called an Apoxyomenos, and should have the left forearm close to the thigh and the right arm crossing the abdomen diagonally. The original was famous, and many replicas were made. This is how the correct restoration was determined.

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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.

Leda_and_theSwan_Uffizi_2cAD_4748


Leda and the Swan Uffizi 2nd c. AD 4748
809 x 1290 (225 KB)

This 2nd c. AD Roman statue of Leda and the Swan was given to Francesco I de’ Medici. The right arm and feet were restored in the 16th century. Zeus came to Leda in the form of a swan, and Leda bore Helen of Troy and Pollux from the union (plus Castor and Clytemnestra from her husband).

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Claudius 4752 M
994 x 1600 (285 KB)

A 1st century AD bust of Emperor Claudius, probably created during his reign from 41 to 54 AD. Due to a limp and slight deafness caused by an illness in his youth, Claudius was not taken seriously, and survived the purges of Tiberius and Caligula. He was named emperor after Caligula’s murder.

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Caligula 4750 M
1000 x 1600 (219 KB)

1st century Roman. Many of Caligula’s statues and busts were destroyed after his assassination by the order of the tribune Cassius Chaerea (who led the plot, and was later killed by Claudius). A number of busts survived. This seems to be in a similar style to that of the bust of Claudius, Caligula’s uncle.

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Frieze Funerary Sculptures Uffizi 4740
1500 x 1092 (405 KB)

The bas-relief frieze is a Roman copy of part of the entablature of the Temple of Athena Nike, and
depicts six laurel-crowned men, three of which are sacrificing a bull (a rare depiction in sculpture).
Two young boys hold a large blank medal which may have been intended to hold an inscription
describing the subject of the bas-relief. A detail crop of the bas-relief is displayed below.

The funerary sculpture on the left depicts a figure flanked by two sheep, while two putti hover
over his head. Atop that sculpture is another with a faun (Roman version of a satyr) embracing
a woman while holding a cup in his left hand. The central sculpture looks significantly older than
the left sculpture, which may be 2nd c. AD (I can’t find information). The style of clothing shown
and the sculptural technique look ancient. On the right is a fragmentary sculpture standing atop
the typical early Roman funerary monument with inscription. Again, I cannot find information.

Entablature_AthenaNike_Uffizi_4740c


Entablature Athena Nike Uffizi 4740c
(detail crop — no linked image)

Detail of the Roman copy of the entablature of the Temple of Athena Nike,
depicting three laurel-crowned men about to sacrifice a bull, and two boys
holding a medal (with three other laurel-crowned men in the background).

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Hercules Nessus Uffizi 4739 M
1000 x 1600 (342 KB)

Giovanni Battista Caccini was famous for restoring ancient fragmentary sculptures such as this 3rd century BC Roman sculpture of Hercules and Nessus. Mounted on a 1st. c. AD Roman funerary monument with busts of a married couple.

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Hercules Nessus Uffizi 4746 M
1000 x 1600 (331 KB)

Caccini repaired the centaur’s forelegs and replaced one section of leg, grafted a modern head onto the centaur’s body, and sculpted Hercules. This presentation is more like a wrestling match than the duel to the death which you will see in Giambologna’s version of this subject (shown further below).

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Hercules Nessus Uffizi 4739 4746 M
1505 x 1200 (405 KB)

Composite will open in a second window or tab

You have probably noticed that I am not watermarking the images from the Uffizi.
You are welcome to use them (Personal Use), but I do ask that you retain my title
and signature blocks when you use them and credit this website as the source.

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Fabriano Adoration of the Magi Uffizi 4764 M
1600 x 1690 (923 KB)

— Note the file size —

This is technically a painting, but as long as we are at the Uffizi... why not?

This is the most famous and best work of Gentile da Fabriano, commissioned by Palla Strozzi
on the arrival of da Fabriano in Florence in 1420. It required three years to complete, and it was
installed in the chapel of Santa Trinita.  It portrays the path of the Magi in several scenes starting in
the upper left corner and continuing clockwise. The people are dressed in Renaissance costume, with
real gold and jewels inlaid into the panels. The frame is a masterpiece, with several small paintings
and a fully illustrated predella (the area below the main scene) Note the exotic animals. There
are monkeys, a leopard, a macaque, a lion and other animals (including superb horses).

This piece is considered to be one of the premiere masterworks of the International Gothic style.

Just about this time is when I was approached and told that no photography was allowed.
Meanwhile, everyone with a little point-and-shoot camera was happily snapping away, flash
activated. I suppose they don’t want anyone with good lenses taking pictures of their artwork.

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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 Florentine Sculpture

Art and Sculpture of Florence

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).

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There are 11 Galleries in the Photoshelter Florence Collection

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MediciBust_PalazzoVecchio_5605


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 showed you earlier from the Uffizi Gallery... the bust of Emperor Trajan. The Medici were great collectors of antiquities. They had the word out that they would buy, so whenever anything was found in Rome during construction, they usually ended up with it.

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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.

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Putto with Dolphin del Verrocchio 5467 M
1000 x 1500 (264 KB)

Putto with Dolphin
Andrea del Verrochio (c. 1470)

Andrea del Verrocchio was the teacher of such renowned Renaissance artists as Leonardo da Vinci, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Lorenzo di Credi and Pietro Perugino (who was the teacher of Raphael). Verrocchio created some of the early sculptures in the round (all viewpoints are of equal significance and the statue can be viewed from all sides, rather than being placed in a niche and viewed from a few positions in front of the sculpture). The Putto with Dolphin is sculpted in the round.

Created for Lorenzo de’ Medici (the Magnificent) for his villa at Carregi for use as a fountainhead, it was originally part of a group of sculptures that were delivered (the others were lost). Cosimo I de’ Medici had the Putto with Dolphin transferred to the Palazzo Vecchio in 1557, where it was the fountainhead for the porphyry and marble fountain in the first cortile (courtyard). Today, a copy made by Bruno Bearzi acts as the fountainhead and the original is displayed in the Apartment of the Elements.

The Putto with Dolphin was created during the same period in which del Verrocchio created the bronze group Christ and St. Thomas for Orsanmichele, which was an elegant solution to the problem of placing two more than life-size statues into a niche designed for one (the statue of St. Thomas was placed entirely outside the niche, with only one foot on the ledge). At this same time, he also created the enormous gilded-bronze ball for the top of the lantern of Brunelleschi’s Dome at Santa Maria del Fiore, destroyed by a lightning strike in 1600.
 

Putto_with_Dolphin_delVerrocchio_5467_5473


Putto with Dolphin del Verrocchio 5467 5473
1500 x 1182 (272 KB)

Composite will open in a second window or tab

Most of Andrea del Verrocchio’s principal works were created in the last twenty
years of his life, after he came under the patronage of the Medici. The Medici took
notice of him after the death of their court sculptor Donatello, who died in 1466.

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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.

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Samson and the 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 (he died of malaria at the age of 23, while he was working in Pisa — information from Vasari’s “Lives”).

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Giovanni de Medici Uffizi 4155
795 x 1290 (333 KB)

Giovanni dalle Bande Nere (Giovanni of the Black Band) was the father of Cosimo I de’ Medici, and the last of the great condotierre (mercenary knights). The Uffizi insists that this is a sculptor misspelling (dalle=by, delle=of). Giovanni created a successful company of light horse cavalry. When Leo X died, he adopted a black band, thus the name. He was finally taken down by a falconet (small 1 lb. cannon). The use of these mobile field cannon spelled the end for mounted knights.

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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_deiGigli_detail_5571


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.

Beheading_JohnBaptist_VincenzoDanti_5965


Beheading John Baptist Vincenzo Danti 5965
1350 x 1056 (494 KB)

This image, shot from directly in front of the South Doors of the Baptistry, was
taken on the only clear morning I had in Florence, just as the light was getting sweet.

Danti’s most famous work, these three sculptures (produced in 1569-71) are
mounted above Pisano’s south doors. The sculpture group was produced in the
Mannerist style, with elongated limbs and bodies (especially on Salome to the left),
and unusual folds in the draped clothing. The poses used were quite elegant.

Salome (on the left) is leaning slightly back with her hand raised as if
to block the upcoming torrent of blood. The Baptist is kneeling
with his hands clasped in prayer, waiting for the sword of
the executioner on the right, who is poised to swing.

Two other images of this sculpture group are on the Baptistry page.

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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 Florentine Sculpture

Art and Sculpture of Florence

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).

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There are 11 Galleries in the Photoshelter Florence Collection

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Menelaus_Patroclus_Loggia_deiLanzi_4121


Menelaus Patroclus Loggia dei Lanzi 4121
960 x 1290 (298 KB)

Controversy surrounds this Roman copy of a Greek original of the 3rd c. BC from Pergamon. The first is regarding the date of origin: recent scholars place the date between 150-125 BC based on gems with a similar motif, others say it is 1st c. AD.

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Menelaus Patroclus Loggia dei Lanzi 4132 M
1200 x 1500 (292 KB)

The other controversy is regarding the restoration. When the statue was found in a Roman vineyard around 1570, Cosimo I had it brought to Florence. The Menelaus figure was missing the torso above the waist. Pietro Tacca (Medici court sculptor) worked out a restoration plan, which was then executed by Lodovico Salvetti, using a much simpler helmet.

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Menelaus Patroclus Loggia dei Lanzi 4120 M
1500 x 1290 (332 KB)

In the background on the left is the Germanic Prisoner, the Princess Thusnelda,
a marble from the 2nd c. AD, probably from the Forum of Trajan. It was found in Rome,
ended up (as did many other antiquities) at the Medici Villa, then was moved here in 1789.
On the right is the Roman Matron, also found in Rome (16th c.), also probably from the
Forum of Trajan, and also previously located at the Medici Villa in Rome. It was
brought from the Villa to the Loggia dei Lanzi to keep Thusnelda company.

Continuing the controversy... in 1771, a neo-Classicist artist (Anton Mengs) took casts
of the parts of this sculpture he considered antiques, and parts of another similar ancient
sculpture in the Palazzo Pitti, and reassembled them the way he thought they should be. The
statue was removed from its mounting on the Ponte Vecchio in 1798 and disappeared for
forty years of additional restorations, including work by Stefano Ricci in the 1830s. It
was finally re-erected in 1838 in the Loggia dei Lanzi, where it remains today.

The current controversy is over the left arm of Patroclus, hanging lifeless (which
was part of the original restoration by Pietro Tacca and Salvetti), that appears to
be dislocated at the shoulder, and the raised knee of Patroclus. Other issues include
the shape of the ground they are on (overly picturesque) and the leg positions of Menelaus
(plus the elaborate neo-Classical helmet of Menelaus, added by Stefano Ricci in the 1830s).

While a lot of this seems to be the incessant yammering of a bunch of critics, the major
issue is the liberties that were taken in the post-Renaissance period with antique
art created prior to the current period, altering them to fit into the current art
sensibilities. Consider another example: During the Mannerist/Baroque
period, the character of Santa Croce was called into question. To
make it fit into the current Baroque mold, the magnificent
frescoes of the pre-Renaissance master Giotto were
plastered over and whitewashed, and in some
areas of the Bardi Chapel, wall tombs were
mounted over them. These tombs destroyed
Giotto’s frescoes. Many years later, the tombs
were removed and the plaster was demolished
(taking a lot of the fresco work with it). The frescoes
were discovered, and journeyman artists were put to
work to try to fix them, but they had no hope of following
Giotto’s subtle expressions and shadings, so what they did
was preserve the general outline and composition where they
could, and otherwise painted very simple faces and clothing.
A great master’s work was totally destroyed by these tyros.

Enough about the controversy. Let’s enjoy the art.

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Menelaus Patroclus Loggia dei Lanzi detail 4120 M
1200 x 1600 (327 KB)

Menelaus was the King of Sparta and husband of Helen of Troy. He was leader of the Spartans
in the Trojan War. When Paris (son of the Trojan King Priam) was approached by Zeus to decide
who was the most beautiful goddess to end a squabble, Paris was promised the most beautiful
woman in the world by Aphrodite if he would choose her: Helen of Sparta. Hera promised him
Europe and Asia, and Athena promised him prowess in battle, great wisdom, and the abilities
of the finest warriors. Paris chose Aphrodite, and his abduction of Helen started the Trojan War.

Patroclus was Achilles’ best friend, and his comrade-in-arms. When the battle had shifted
from the Greeks favor, and it looked as if the Trojans would capture the Greek ships, Patroclus
convinced Achilles to loan him his armor so he could rally his men, the Myrmidons (Ant People), who
were extremely loyal to Achilles. (Achilles had gotten into a big argument with Agamemnon (Menelaus’
 brother, who was in command of the Greek army) and refused to fight). Achilles warned Patroclus to stop
when he had turned the Trojans away from the ships, but he pursued them all the way to the city gates, then
he single-handedly killed 53 warriors, at which point he was stunned by Apollo, wounded, then killed by Hector
(Paris’ brother). This sculpture shows the scene when Menelaus recovers Patroclus’ body from the battlefield.

Menelaus_Patroclus_Loggia_deiLanzi_detail_4122c


Menelaus Patroclus Loggia dei Lanzi detail 4122c
800 x 1290 (326 KB)

Just for fun, to throw another wrench into the controversy...
while this sculpture group, (also called the “Pasquino Group”),
has been traditionally identified as Menelaus Supporting Patroclus,
recent scholars now consider it more likely that it was meant to represent
Ajax, the grandson of Zeus: a major figure in Homer’s Iliad and the Trojan War.
He was Achilles cousin, and after Achilles, the most valuable warrior to the Greeks.
Ajax and Odysseus were the two warriors who fought to recover Achilles’ body after he
was killed. Scholars are saying that it is likely that this was either Ajax or Odysseus with
the body of Achilles, not Menelaus with the body of Patroclus. It is all laid out in a book:
Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway: “Hellenistic Sculpture I: The styles of ca. 331-200 BC”.
Riveting reading... you have to go through obscure material to research this stuff.

The Loggia dei Lanzi is located in Piazza della Signoria, next to the Palazzo Vecchio.
It is called dei Lanzi because Cosimo I used it to house his Landsknecht (German Pikemen,
called Lanzichenecchi, or Lanzi in Italian). It is an open-air, 3-bay loggia with wide arches, one bay
deep, and is used to house a number of monumental sculptures such as this one and the one following.

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Hercules Nessus Loggia dei Lanzi 4127 M
1000 x 1600 (300 KB)

Hercules_Nessus_Loggia_deiLanzi_detail_4124c


Hercules Nessus Loggia dei Lanzi detail 4124c
960 x 1290 (297 KB)

Jean Boulogne (Giambologna) sculpted this group from a single large block of marble (with Pietro Francavilla) in 1599. He had a spectacular ability to portray movement and tension, and his finish work was superb. It was placed here in 1841.

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Hercules Nessus Loggia dei Lanzi 4129 M
1000 x 1500 (283 KB)

Nessus carried Hercules wife Deianeira across the river Euenos (he was the ferryman),
Then he tried to rape her. Very bad idea. Hercules saw this from across the river and shot an
arrow dipped in the poison of the Hydra into Nessus’ chest. Nessus, as he lay dying, told
Deianeira that his blood would ensure Hercules’ fidelity. She believed him, and when
she became worried, she dipped his shirt into the blood. Later, she spilled a little
on the floor and saw it fuming. She realized it was poison, but it was too late.
Although she sent a messenger to warn Hercules, he was already dying.

Bottom line? This fight never really happened in the mythological past.
It’s still a truly exceptional sculpture... and a little artistic license is expected.

Hercules_Nessus_Loggia_deiLanzi_4124M


Hercules Nessus Loggia dei Lanzi 4124 M
1200 x 1600 (321 KB)

The body positions and the look of pain on the centaur’s face are dramatic,
but the truly exceptional thing about this sculpture is the fact that it was created
from a single block of marble. This is the sign of a master as there is zero tolerance
for error, and you have to see the entire sculpture in your mind’s eye as you are sculpting.

Hercules_Nessus_Loggia_deiLanzi_4125MG


Hercules Nessus Loggia dei Lanzi 4125 MG
1332 x 1650 (577 KB)

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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 Florentine Sculpture

Art and Sculpture of Florence

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).

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There are 11 Galleries in the Photoshelter Florence Collection

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NeptuneFountain_Piazza_dellaSignoria_4113M


Neptune Fountain Piazza della Signoria 4113 M
1000 x 1600 (456 KB)

Commissioned for the wedding of Francesco I de’ Medici and Grand Duchess Johanna of Austria in 1565, the Fountain of Neptune was created by Bartolomeo Ammannati and his assistants (including Giambologna). It was originally assigned to Bartolommeo Bandinelli (who created the model), but he died before starting work on the Apuan marble. For the face of Neptune, Ammannati used Cosimo I de’ Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany (alluding to the dominion of the Florentines over the sea). Neptune is a copy made in the 19th century (the original is in the National Museum).

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Neptune Fountain Piazza della Signoria detail 4111 M
1000 x 1600 (396 KB)

The fountain has experienced a lot of damage over the years. It was vandalized in 1580, used as a washbasin at the end of the 16th century, a satyr was stolen by masked men during a carnival in 1830 (and was replaced by a new one in 1831), and it was damaged in the Bourbon bombardment of 1848. It has been restored numerous times. In 1982 Neptune was painted blue after a win by Florence’s soccer team. Hooves of the horses have been snapped off in 1981, 86 and 89. In 2005, an idiot climbed the statue late at night, slipped, and tried to catch himself on the right hand. The hand broke off.

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Neptune Piazza della Signoria 5338 M
1000 x 1600 (263 KB)

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Neptune Piazza della Signoria detail 5340c
960 x 1290 (263 KB)

When the statue was completed in 1565, the Florentines did not like it much. Michelangelo (Ammannati’s teacher) said: “What a fine piece of marble you have ruined.” The Florentines then started to wash their clothes in the fountain.

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Neptune Fountain Piazza della Signoria detail 4117 M
1000 x 1600 (397 KB)

The sea-horses are supposed to be drawing Neptune’s chariot (a giant seashell on
a pedestal decorated with the chained figures of Scylla and Charybdis). The water for the
fountain is supplied by a specially-constructed aqueduct fed from an original Roman aqueduct
from the Porto San Giorgio, across the Ponte Rubiconte bridge and to Piazza della Signoria.

The Mannerist bronzes represent a satyr on the left, and Tethys (Neptune’s wife) on the right.
These were created by Giambologna, who was apprenticed to Ammannati at the time.
A large detail crop with linked image is below showing Giambologna’s bronzes.

By the way, in front of the fountain is a porpyry plaque commemorating
the spot where the Florentines hung and burned Savanarola in 1498.
Girolamo Savanarola was the fire-and-brimstone preaching monk
who caused the Bonfire of the Vanities, during which the people
of Florence were forced to burn their ‘decadent’ Renaissance
paintings, along with mirrors, fancy clothes, and other ‘sinful’
items such as non-religious books, musical instruments,
cosmetics, manuscripts of songs, and their sculptures.

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Neptune Fountain Piazza della Signoria Tethys Satyr 4115 M
1200 x 1600 (550 KB)

Detail of Tethys and the satyr created by Giambologna for the Fountain of Neptune.

Tethys was Neptune’s sister and wife (gods did that back then), and the daughter of Uranus and Gaia.
A member of the group known as the Titans, she was a sea goddess and mother of the River Nile, the
Alpheus, the Maeander, and about three thousand daughters (the Oceanids). Goddesses had a lot of
kids to deal with. Whew. I thought eight was enough [chuckle]. She is sometimes confused with Thetis,
a sea nymph who became the wife of Peleus and was the mother of the Greek demi-god hero Achilles.

Satyrs were male forest and mountain spirits who were companions of Pan and Dionysus. In Roman
times, they were conflated with fauns, a half-goat, half-man spirit with similar characteristics, also
associated with Pan. In Greek tradition, they have the legs of a man, but the tail of a horse.

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Fountain Piazza della Santissima Annunziata 4954
795 x 1290 (285 KB)

Fontane del Caccuccio (Fish-Soup Fountains)
The Original Creatures of the Black Lagoon
by Pietro Tacca (1629)

These two identical bronze fountains were originally intended to be mounted in Livorno, but were instead installed in the Piazza della SS Annunziata in Florence. They were created in a Mannerist style based on Flemish goldsmith’s designs of strange sea-creatures and shells. These are by far the most unusual fountains in Florence, and show the tremendous imagination of both Tacca and the Flemish goldsmith(s) who created the original designs.

Ferdinando II de’ Medici commissioned the fountains as a gift to the port town of Livorno, where they were to be installed at the docks in honor of their fishing industry (explaining the sea monster motif), but he liked them so much they were installed in Piazza della SS Annunziata. The two Triton-like creatures on each fountain are perched over a basin that looks like sea otters lying on their backs in the water. The pedestals are adorned with all sorts of shellfish, crustaceans, and mollusks. Because the pedestal decorations contain the contents of Caccuccio (fish soup), the fountains are often called Fontane del Caccuccio.

In 1956, the original molds were found, and the mayor of Florence had a copy cast as a gift to Livorno (who never got over losing the fountains). Later, Livorno bought another copy.

Pietro Tacca was Giambologna’s chief pupil, and succeeded him as Court Sculptor to the Medici upon his death. Tacca finished a number of uncompleted Giambologna sculptures, including the enormous equestrian bronze of Ferdinando I also in Piazza Annunziata, and was also responsible for the plans for restoration of Menelaus and Patroclus shown above. He also created the famous Four Moors (installed in Livorno).

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Fountain Piazza della Santissima Annunziata 4935M
1206 x 1575 (578 KB)

The Triton-like creatures are perched above two basins resembling sea otters.
The pedestal is adorned with shellfish, crustaceans and molluscs, prompting the
Florentines to call the fountains Fontane del Caccuccio (Fish-Soup Fountains).

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Fountain Piazza della Santissima Annunziata 4945, 4940 M
1500 x 1290 (507 KB)

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Brunelleschi 4294
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Monumental statue of Filippo Brunelleschi, the Father of
Renaissance Architecture, by Luigi Pampaloni, 1834.
Mounted in a niche across from the Cathedral, he is
staring up at the Cathedral’s Brunelleschi Dome.

Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446) was the inventor of linear perspective (a method of depicting on paper what is seen by the eye, using geometric mathematics to determine the ratios, and using foreshortening). Brunelleschi demonstrated the effect with a painting of the Baptistry and a mirror, and after that, his geometric methods were used by every artist in Florence (and Italy). He also developed complex theatrical machinery for special effects in church theatrics, which helped him to design the machinery required to lift the enormous weights involved in the building of the Dome. He designed fortifications, hydraulic machinery, clocks, and some of the seminal buildings and spaces of the Renaissance.

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Michele di Lando Loggia Mercato Nuovo 5326
705 x 1290 (344 KB)

In 1378, the Guelph party was firmly in control of Florence, backed by the old nobility who liked the status quo and their control over the populace. Salvestro de’ Medici (a cousin of Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici, founder of the dynasty) was challenging their authority along with many Florence workers, but as these workers did not belong to one of the powerful Guilds they could not vote. When the Ciompi Revolt broke out in 1378 (a popular revolt led by the wool carders, ciompi), Michele di Lando led the people in taking the Palazzo della Signoria and the Priors fled. He took power for six weeks, leading the Priors to create three new Guilds which provided representation to the workers. The Ciompi were later routed by the guilds, but this was a traumatic memory for the Guilds.

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Minerva 5093
795 x 1290 (224 KB)

A courtyard sculpture near Piazza San Marco.

There are numerous courtyard sculptures in Florence, some by very accomplished artists. This one was created during the Neo-Classical period based on the drapery and helmet styles. It was carved from a beautifully colored block of marble.

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Bacchus 3964 M
914 x 1600 (407 KB)

The Fountain of Bacchus (Giambologna, c. 1560), at Torre dei Rossi-Cerchi on the Oltrarno side of the Ponte Vecchio. Niche destroyed by the Germans in WW II, rebuilt in 1958. The statue is the original, before it was moved to the Bargello.

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St. George and  the Dragon 4377 M
984 x 1600 (351 KB)

This sculpture in a courtyard just beyond the Ponte Vecchio depicts St. George, patron saint of the Armorers Guild, who is about to decapitate a little baby dragon. You would think they would have made the dragon larger and more fearsome.

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St. George and  the Dragon 4379 M
930 x 1600 (299 KB)

St. George wears the winged cap of Mercury, and also has Mercury’s winged sandals and curved sword. Crossed myths. This made me think that it was a statue of Mercury, but there is nothing in mythology about Mercury and a Dragon.

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The Banner below leads to the Florence Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

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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).

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Hope&Poverty_SanGaetano_3890


Hope & Poverty San Gaetano 3890
1500 x 1092 (449 KB)

While walking around the city after arriving on the train, I headed towards the Arno River
to take in some of the sights and get oriented. Nestled amongst the massive Renaissance
palazzos on Via de’ Tournabuoni is the baroque facade of San Gaetano. What struck me
immediately was the character of Balthasar Permoser’s statues of Hope and Poverty.

Balthasar Permoser’s Hope and Poverty sit atop the pediment, flanking the coat of arms of the Theatines.

Balthasar Permoser was one of the leading Baroque sculptors. He trained in Florence
under Giovanni Battista Foggini for fourteen years, and during that period he created
the statues of Hope and Poverty. As you can see, he was fond of theatrical poses.

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Dante Alighieri Santa Croce 4507
800 x 1290 (383 KB)

The sculpture of Dante (Durante degli Alighieri, 1265-1321) was donated to the city of Florence by the sculptor in 1856. Enrico Pazzi represented Dante deep in thought, holding the  folds of his robes with his left hand and a tome in his right.

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Dante Alighieri Santa Croce 4508c
800 x 1290 (342 KB)

Formerly residing in the center of Piazza Santa Croce,
the statue was moved near the steps in 1968, two years
after it witnessed the devastating Arno Flood which had
destroyed so very many artworks and lives in Florence.

Dante, like most Florentines of his day, was heavily involved in the Guelph vs. Ghibelline battles and the political conflicts that surrounded the strongly opposed factions, Guelphs supporting the Pope and Ghibellines supporting the Holy Roman Emperor. The actual power struggle between the Pope and the HRE had ended in 1122, but the conflict between the Guelphs and Ghibellines lasted in Italy until the the middle of the 1400s. Italians have created a high art out of the act of holding a grudge.

After the defeat of the Ghibellines, the Guelphs split into two factions: Dante’s party of White Guelphs, led by de’ Cerchi (the same family as Humiliana de’ Cerchi, further below), and the Black Guelphs led by the Donati. The Donati and de’ Cerchi families were mortal enemies to start out with, and when idealogical differences sprang up based on how much power the Pope was to have in Florentine affairs, things got dicey. The city council sent a delegation to Rome to determine what the Pope’s intentions were, and Dante was a delegate. The Pope kicked everyone out except Dante, asking him to remain. Meanwhile, the Pope’s military ‘peacemaker’, Charles de Valois, descended on Florence with Black Guelphs, who killed many of their enemies and destroyed much of the city. Dante was fined heavily by the new Black Guelph government, but since he was still in Rome with the Pope, he was considered to have avoided the fine and was condemned to permanent exile (if he returned to Florence, he could be burned at the stake).

Florence finally relented and overturned Dante’s sentence in 2008. Dante, meanwhile, had died in 1321. 700 years earlier.

Florentines do hold their grudges.

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St. James Lamberti (copy)
near Piazza Della Annunziata 4922 M
750 x 1600 (190 KB)

A copy of Niccolo di Piero Lamberti’s St. James from
the tabernacle in front of Orsanmichele, standing in a
cloister near Piazza della Santissima Annunziata.

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Orsanmichele St. James detail 4105 M
1000 x 1600 (459 KB)

The statue of St. James at left and that of St. Peter below gave me a difficult time in identification. I shot them one rainy day as I was approaching Piazza della SS Annunziata (about five minutes before I shot the first image in the piazza), and I couldn’t find anything about them or where they were. The Scenery images and Church images were worked on at different times, so it was just recently when I realized that I had seen this face before (only a week earlier, I had worked on the images from Orsanmichele). Finally, I had figured out who the two statues represented. There is still no information on them.

The only copies I can find information about are the ones actually in the tabernacles outside Orsanmichele. Regardless, there is no doubt that these two statues are copies of the two at Orsanmichele (compare the images for yourself).

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St. Peter Donatello (copy)
near Piazza Della Annunziata 4924 M
750 x 1600 (201 KB)

A copy of Donatello’s St. Peter (1413) from the
tabernacle in front of Orsanmichele, standing in a
cloister near Piazza della Santissima Annunziata.

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Orsanmichele St. Peter detail 4090 M
1000 x 1600 (420 KB)

The St. Peter was created for the Arte de Beccai (Butcher’s Guild) in 1411-1413. According to a reliable source written in the early 1500s (and as stated by Vasari in 1550), St. Peter was commissioned to  Brunelleschi and Donatello together, although Brunelleschi could not legally carve a marble statue as he was not a member of the Stoneworkers Guild. When Brunelleschi took on other work, the finish work on the statue was completed by a lesser sculptor: Bernardo Ciuffagni.

Other than the fact that this statue does not carry the keys, it is nearly an exact replica of the statue at Orsanmichele. The drapery is slightly different (understandably) and the head looks a little elongated due to the lower viewing angle (the statue in the niche was designed to be looked at from below). I was unable to discover who sculpted these copies.

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Plaque Opera Workshop 4306
1500 x 640 (294 KB)

As long as we’re discussing copies, this image above is a good one.

A block from the Piazza del Duomo, behind Palazzo dei Canonici and across from Pierozzi Tower is
the workshop for the Opera del Duomo, where sculptors who once created the statuary for the Cathedral
now work to maintain and conserve the sculptures. They also create copies of the 13th and 14th century
sculptures on the older parts of the facade to replace the existing sculptures, which are then moved
into the Museum. They use many of the same tools as their Renaissance counterparts, along with
 modern power tools. This plaque is beside the door (no, they are not about to brain a child).
This is a copy of the predella (frieze or painting at the foot of a tabernacle, altar, etc.) for
Nanni di Banco’s most famous work: the Quattro Santi Coronati at Orsanmichele.

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David Piazzale Michelangelo 4424 M
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Bronze copy of David in Piazzale Michelangelo.

Piazzale Michelangelo
Monte alla Croci (Miniato)

The most famous vantage point in Florence for skylines, and one of the popular Florentine romantic spots after sunset, Piazzale Michelangelo was created by the architect Giuseppe Poggi between 1865 and 1871, when Florence was capital of the new Kingdom of Italy. He knocked down much of what remained of the 3rd section of city walls (built 1284-1333), saving a few of the gates, and extended the roads up the hill. There are two main ways up, either from Porta San Niccolo and Piazza Poggi then up the pedestrian ramp, or the way I went: in via Porta San Miniato, then either up the winding road or straight up the hill and climb the long Poggi Staircase.

Dedicated to Florence’s most renowned Renaissance artist, Poggi created a monumental base in Piazzale Michelangelo to house bronze replicas of some of his most famous statues. At left is the bronze copy of Michelangelo’s David, one of two copies in Florence (the other is a marble in front of Palazzo Vecchio). The other bronzes are copies of Michelangelo’s four allegories from the tombs of Guilano de’ Medici (Duke of Nemours) and Lorenzo de’ Medici (Duke of Urbino), the lesser of the two Medici of those names. This pastiche of Michelangelo masterpieces required nine pairs of oxen to drag up the hill in 1873.

From the Piazza you can see the heart of Florence, as well as some of the walls Michelangelo had built when he was the chief of fortifications during the Siege of Florence (1529-30).

Below are two images of the replicas of Dawn and Night, and two detail crops from the Allegory of Night. The Allegories were never discussed by Michelangelo except as ‘effigies’, and modern scholars reject the assignation as Night and Day, Dusk and Dawn by the earliest commentary on them in 1549 by Benedetto Varchi, who admitted that his interpretation was speculation. He thought that “Night” was correct since she had an owl and wore a moon. Based on an autograph note of Michelangelo’s where he used “Heaven and Earth” twice in referring to the work, the female figures are now considered to be maternal and virginal aspects of the Earth Goddess, and the male figures represent the Dioscuri, Gods of Heaven.

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Allegory of Dawn Piazzale Michelangelo 4419 M
1500 x 1200 (358 KB)

The Allegory of Dawn, considered by scholars to be the
Virginal Aspect of the Earth Goddess. A bronze copy
of the Michelangelo marble from Cappelle Medici
(tomb of Lorenzo de’ Medici, Duke of Urbino).

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Allegory of Night Piazzale Michelangelo 4433
1500 x 1092 (356 KB)

The Allegory of Night, considered by scholars to be the
Maternal Aspect of the Earth Goddess. A bronze copy
of the Michelangelo marble from Cappelle Medici
(tomb of Giuliano de’ Medici, Duke of Nemours).
Below are detail crops from the Allegory of Night.

Owl_andPomegranates


(detail crop — no larger image)

Two of the defining characteristics of the maternal Earth Goddess Ceres are the Pomegranates that cost her half of her time with her daughter Proserpina, who had to spend half of the year with Pluto because she ate Pomegranate seeds, and Ascalaphus, whom she changed into an owl for telling her of how Hades had tricked Proserpina into eating the seeds.

Mask_Night


(detail crop — no larger image)

Above is the mask she leans on. The pagan roots of the mask symbol frequently give Death and rebirth visual forms in the mask (remember that this is on a tomb). The previous identity ceases to exist and is replaced with a new and different identity. As a symbol on a tomb, the mask can be interpreted as a hope for renewal.

Many people who ascribe to Varchi’s admittedly speculative interpretation (which was repeated by Vasari and others, ad infinitum), say that the mask is representing dreams, that the owl is a night bird, and poppies are next to the owl (which induce sleep), so all symbols identify this statue as Night. This was the only statue in which Michelangelo included these blatant symbols, which, as you see, can be interpreted in more than one way. The identifications are still controversial.

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Pieta St. Peters 7772 M
1500 x 1290 (380 KB)

As long as we are speaking about Michelangelo, I thought I would include
an image of a Michelangelo sculpture that is not a copy, to close out this page.

Michelangelo’s “Pieta” is probably the world’s most famous religious sculpture, and
very likely one of the most recognizable sculptures of any kind. Made when he was only
24 years old, and installed in 1500 for the Jubilee, Michelangelo stood by proudly when
his masterpiece was unveiled (it was after all only his third completed sculpture). To his
dismay, he overheard a group of people attributing the work to another artist. He picked
up his hammer and immediately carved the following into the sash across Mary’s breast:

MICHAEL . ANGELUS . BUONAROTUS . FLORENT . FACIEBAT
(Michelangelo Buonarroti of Florence Created This)

He later regretted that his emotions got the better of him, vowing to never sign work again.

One Saturday in May of 1972, a disturbed man named Laszlo Toth leaped over the railing in
the Chapel of the Pieta with a hammer, and with 15 blows knocked off Mary’s nose, chipped
her head, eyelid, neck and veil, and broke her left arm off at the elbow.The fingers snapped off
when the arm hit the floor. He claimed that he was Jesus Christ, and that Mary didn’t look at all
like his mother. There were over 50 shards of marble recovered with feather dusters, and a
few that were picked up by witnesses were returned. At the time the restoration was done,
chemical restoration methods were in their infancy, and many experiments were done by
the restoration team with various adhesives and methods. The left eye proved the most
difficult... over 20 attempts were made with the mold. In case better adhesives are
made in the future, reversible adhesives were used to allow further restoration.

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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 Florentine Sculpture

Art and Sculpture of Florence

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).

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There are 11 Galleries in the Photoshelter Florence Collection

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