Not far from the “Florence big ones” – the Cathedral and the Uffizi – the Bargello Museum is a – relatively speaking – tiny museum; yet, another Florence must see, as it is a beautiful building enshrining some amazing treasures!
The Bargello: from prison to… treasure chest!
The Bargello building: origins
The works in the area that will become the Bargello started in 1255, connecting in a new unit some houses and towers; among them the Torre dei Boscoli, a unique in the Florentine history as it is the only private building sold to the Florence Commune and preserved as it was, even if under a different name: Torre della Volognana.
The palace was the seat of the Capitano del popolo, ‘the Captain of the people’ and faced further extensions, in 1260 – 1280, in 1295 (the courtyard) and in 1316 – 1320 and 1340 – 1345, when another floor was added to the building.
As it was the seat of a completely different concept of power, the Medicis reemployed the building in a very different way: as the seat of the “Bargello”, the chief of the powerful Medicis’ ‘police’. The broad halls were divided to be used as prison cells, the decorations of the walls covered.
The Bargello will be a prison until 1845.
The original planimetry of the Palazzo was restored between 1859 and 1865; the ‘third life’ of the Bargello was starting: a museum life!
In 1889 Louis Carrand, a French antiquarian, donates to the Bargello his collection of thousands of artworks.
Many of them are now part of the Bargello exhibition. But the Bargello enshrines some even more important masterpieces!
Donatello & friends…
In 1887, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the birth, the Salone di Donatello was inaugurated.
The hall treasures the original St George statue (from the Orsanmichele church, the original place of the statue, where you can now find a copy); the Marble David and the Bronze David (a masterpiece with a peculiar story that we are going to tell you in another post!) and the late Amore – Attis.
In the same hall you will find the original formelle by Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi made for the contest (the act which symbolises the starting point of the Renaissance) for the Doors of the Baptistery: The Sacrifice of Isaac (Il Sacrificio di Isacco).
What could I add?
I’ll wait for you at the Bargello!