Palazzo Medici is a Renaissance palace located in
Florence, Italy. This was built for Cosimo de’ Medici by Michelozzo di
Bortolommeo. It was built as a town home for the wealthy Medici banking family.
The building is divided into 3 levels by a string course
which makes the building seem lighter and taller. The tripartite elevation is
used here to express the humanistic ideas of rationality, order and classism.
Each story is 20 feet high. The lower lever with rusticated stone masonry is
the entrance level. The second level called the piano nobile is the main level
of reception and state rooms were the guests are entertained. This is also
where the bedrooms for the main family members existed. The upper level has
more delicate and refined stone work. This level is for the use of minor family
members and children. It also had an attic where the staff were housed. A
massive cornice crowns the roofline. Double windows with roman arches are
featured on the second and third stories of the palazzo.
There is an open
colonnaded court right at the center of the palazzo. These are inspired from
the peristyle gardens that was excavated. The wall paintings of the villas are
also seen in the décor of the courtyard. There is a chapel for the maji inside
the palazzo which has a series of wall paintings. The interiors are decorated
with elaborate coffered and gilded ceiling and marble floors which are inlaid.
Palazzo Rucellai was built by the famous architect
Leon Batista Alberti for Giovanni Rucellai who was a wealthy wool manufacturer
in Florence. It was constructed between 1446 and 1451.
This was built a few years after Palazzo Medici and takes
inspiration from it. This building also has tripartite façade which gives us a
sense of geometry and lightness. The tiers are divided by horizontal
entablatures that run across the facade. The masonry used here is more delicate than the
Medici palace. There are a lot of classical elements like pilasters and rounded
arches on the façade. The pilasters are used here to visually support the
entablature. The order of the columns changes, going from the least to most
decorative as they ascend. On the first tier they are of Tuscan order, on the
second, Ionic and the third, Corinthian order.
The ground floor is where the business was conducted
by the family and is flanked by benches running along the
street facade. The second level called the piano nobile
is where the guests were entertained. The third floor is for the family’s private apartments and
a hidden fourth floor with few windows for the servants. The palace contains an off-center court, of which three
sides were originally surrounded by arcades.
. Both are renaissance revival palazzos built in the
fifteenth century in Florence.
. Both Medici place and Palazzo Rucellai have tripartite
. A sense of geometry and balance.
. Classical elements can be seen in the façade of both
. Both were built for wealthy merchant families of Florence.
. Similar windows with Roman arches.
. Benches on the exterior for the public to rest.
. Both Palazzos have colonnaded courtyards in the
. The masonry of Palazzo Rucellai is much delicate than
of the heavy, dark and rusticated masonry of Medici Palace.
. Palazzo Medici has a columnated courtyard in the
center and Palazzo Rucellai has an off-centered courtyard with columns on 3
. The top
tier of the Palazzo Medici is almost entirely plain, whereas in Palazzo Rucellai,
architectural features is used for ornamentation throughout the design.
. More classical elements like pilasters and
entablatures are seen in Palazzo Rucellai.
Sources: www.museumsinflorence.com; www.khanacademy.com;
2. Cassone is a rich and showy wedding chest of the renaissance
period made to contain the bride’s trousseau. In the early renaissance, there
was a general demand for improved richness and comfort in movable furniture,
and the cassone became the most prestigious and finest piece of furniture in
The cassone traditionally were made in pairs. One for
the bride and one for the groom. They were commissioned by the young groom as a
gift to his bride or by the family members for the newlyweds. This was filled
with brides’ clothes, linen and other precious items in anticipation of the wedding.
Cassone were mostly placed in the bed chamber or sometimes even in the living
room. This would later serve as a storage piece and could double as a settee.
The cassone were either inlaid or carved, prepared with
gesso ground then painted and gilded. Since it was associated with marriage, it
was a medium for painted decorations that commemorated the marriage. The panels
were often used for giving instructions to the young bride and groom. Battle scenes
for the groom and classical and literary themes for the bride were especially popular.
The panels on the side would often depict instructions for the young wife in
taking care of her husband. Since furniture were pushed against the walls in
those days, the backs of cassone were often unfinished. They were generally
made in walnut.
This cassone called the Triumph of love and two lovers
was made in sienna in 1469-1500. It is elaborate in its design. It is decorated
with painting and gilding. Joinery and sculpture techniques have also been
used. The story depicted here is of queen Dido and her love Aeneas. Dido was
the first queen of Carthage and Aenas was her lover, a Trojan hero. The
painting on the cassone depicts Dido’s process to the Temple of Juno, and shows
the meeting of Aenas and Dido. Dido’s role as the founder and vision behind
Carthage is symbolized in the attention to architecture. The sides of the
cassone show an unidentified coat of arms. The back of the cassone is adorned
with a painting of nude female. Although the initial whereabouts of the cassone
is unknown, it was later given as a wedding gift to Princess Louise (daughter
of Queen Victoria) and Marquis of Lorne in 1871.
3. The Gubbio Studiolo was built for
the duke of Urbino, Federico Da Montefeltro in Ducal Palace in Gubbio. The studiolo
was the duke’s private retreat for study and meditation. This is a masterpiece of
perspective of inlay in wood called intarsia.
At one glance it looks like a fully outfitted interior
but upom close examination, we realize that it is a way to fool the eye by
using the intarsia technique. The illusionism is done to the highest extent
here. The studiolo is made of hundreds of varieties of wood in various colors
done in inlay to create the illusion of walls, benches and cupboards with a
variety of the duke’s belongings on display. These illusionary objects show the wide range of the duke’s
interest, including books, scientific, artistic and musical materials. Some
of the wood varieties used here are walnut, oak beech, rosewood, and fruitwoods
on walnut base.
The thumbnails below
show cupboards with lattice work that hold various items that the duke
possesses. The image on the left shows a bench below a cupboard that holds
books, a symbol for the order of garter, quill case and a jeweled broom. The
image on the right shows a cupboard with a musical instrument, a military
knife, a book and pipe box. All of the belongings depicted in both of the
images, have strong ties to the glorious military history of the duke and his
intellectual curiosity towards science, music and literature.