Lippo di Andrea | Scenes from the Life of Saint Cecilia; detail of Death of the Saint | Santa Maria del Carmine (Florence, Italy) | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; scalarchives.com; artres.com

Lippo di Andrea | Scenes from the Life of Saint Cecilia; detail of Death of the Saint | Santa Maria del Carmine (Florence, Italy) | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; scalarchives.com; artres.com

Anne C. Leader, Professor, SCAD-Atlanta

While the primary motivation for patrons of religious architecture and decoration was to gain or retain God’s grace, Florentine tomb monuments manifest a conflicting mix of piety and social calculation, reflecting tension between Christian humility and social recognition. Though some city churches still house many tombs, most of the thousands of original monuments have been moved, reused, or survive only in fragments. From the mid-thirteenth-century onward, Florence’s churches, both inside and out, were carpeted with floor slabs, coated with wall monuments, banners, and markers, and filled with stone caskets. Benefactors hoped to secure perpetual intercession for their souls, while preserving and promoting their family’s honor, with families typically installing tombs in multiple locations around the city. My research reconstructs the rich mosaic of tomb markers that once covered the floors, walls, and yards of the Florentine cityscape to bring us closer to how Florentines experienced the deaths and memories of their kin, friends, and competitors in the early modern city.

Lorenzo Ghiberti | Tomb of Leonardo Dati; Tomb of Leonardo Dati |Santa Maria Novella; Florence, Italy | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; scalarchives.com; artres.com

Lorenzo Ghiberti | Tomb of Leonardo Dati; Tomb of Leonardo Dati |Santa Maria Novella; Florence, Italy | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; scalarchives.com; artres.com

I explore the reasons behind and ramifications of Florentine burial choices ca. 1250-1532. To answer questions about how and why Florentines made their burial choices, I have developed the first relational database of Florentine burials to track tomb ownership and location to explain the Renaissance surge in private memorialization. Though still in the data-collecting phase, I have already identified, analyzed, and interpreted patterns within Florentine burial practice, providing a broader understanding of the visual culture of death as expressed by permanent memorials and their relationship to social self-fashioning. Eventually, I will make my database available online as an interactive website to allow users to compare Florentine commemorative practices with those in other urban centers as well as to find specific information about individuals, families, religious institutions, and tombs.

Although Florentines often opted for burial in their home parishes, many chose a mendicant church, monastery, or the cathedral, exacerbating tensions with local churches that relied on burying parish residents as a steady source of income. I investigate Florentine burial practice broadly, identifying trends in choice of location and tomb design, and specifically, by examining individual patrons and the institutions that housed their tombs. My findings enable more nuanced understanding of individual monuments, patrons, and institutions citywide; of formal and stylistic developments; and of larger cultural trends in burial choice while complementing studies of Florentine political history, factionalism, and social status.

 

Tomb of Beato Alessio Strozzi | c. 1383 | Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy | Photographer: Ralph Lieberman
Tomb of Beato Alessio Strozzi | c. 1383 | Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy | Photographer: Ralph Lieberman
Silvio Cosini |Tomb of Ruggiero Minerbetti ; detail; c. 1530|Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy | Photographer: Ralph Lieberman
Silvio Cosini |Tomb of Ruggiero Minerbetti ; detail; c. 1530|Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy | Photographer: Ralph Lieberman
Benozzo Gozzoli | Scenes from the Life of Saint Augustine. Funeral of Saint Augustine ; 1464-65| 1464-65 | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; scalarchives.com; artres.com
Benozzo Gozzoli | Scenes from the Life of Saint Augustine. Funeral of Saint Augustine ; 1464-65| 1464-65 | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; scalarchives.com; artres.com
Michelangelo Buonarroti | San Lorenzo, New Sacristy (Medici Chapel); Interior view of the sacristy; ca. 1519-34 | Florence, Italy | Photographed by: Andrew Tallon | QTVR Panoramas of World Architecture (Columbia University)
Michelangelo Buonarroti | San Lorenzo, New Sacristy (Medici Chapel); Interior view of the sacristy; ca. 1519-34 | Florence, Italy | Photographed by: Andrew Tallon | QTVR Panoramas of World Architecture (Columbia University)
Luca della Robbia | Tomb of Cardinal Federighi; detail, putto; 1453 | Santa Trinità ; Florence, Italy | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y. ; scalarchives.com; artres.com
Luca della Robbia | Tomb of Cardinal Federighi; detail, putto; 1453 | Santa Trinità ; Florence, Italy | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y. ; scalarchives.com; artres.com
Ridolfo Ghirlandaio| Tobias and Tobit Burying a Dead Man in Front of the Bigallo; 1515|Loggia del Bigallo, Florence, Italy | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; scalarchives.com; artres.com
Ridolfo Ghirlandaio| Tobias and Tobit Burying a Dead Man in Front of the Bigallo; 1515|Loggia del Bigallo, Florence, Italy | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; scalarchives.com; artres.com
Luca della Robbia | Tomb of Cardinal Federighi; detail, molding with roses; 1453 | Santa Trinità ; Florence, Italy | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y. ; scalarchives.com; artres.com
Luca della Robbia | Tomb of Cardinal Federighi; detail, molding with roses; 1453 | Santa Trinità ; Florence, Italy | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y. ; scalarchives.com; artres.com
Santa Croce: view of the left wall of the Cappella Bardi |Florence, Italy | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; scalarchives.com ; artres.com
Santa Croce: view of the left wall of the Cappella Bardi |Florence, Italy | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; scalarchives.com ; artres.com
Giotto | Scenes from the Life of Saint Francis: Death of the Saint; c.1320 | Cappella Bardi ; Santa Croce ; Florence, Italy (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; scalarchives.com; artres.com
Giotto | Scenes from the Life of Saint Francis: Death of the Saint; c.1320 | Cappella Bardi ; Santa Croce ; Florence, Italy (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; scalarchives.com; artres.com
Antonio Rossellino | Chapel for the Cardinal of Portugal, east bay with Tomb of the Cardinal of Portugal, Angels, Putti, and Cherub-wreathed Madonna; 1461-66 |Cappella del Cardinale di Portogallo, S. Miniato al Monte, Florence, Italy | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; ; scalarchives.com; artres.com
Antonio Rossellino | Chapel for the Cardinal of Portugal, east bay with Tomb of the Cardinal of Portugal, Angels, Putti, and Cherub-wreathed Madonna; 1461-66 |Cappella del Cardinale di Portogallo, S. Miniato al Monte, Florence, Italy | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; ; scalarchives.com; artres.com

I track both the type of church in which the tomb appeared and its form, decoration, and placement: Was the tomb placed outdoors, inside in the nave, aisles, transept, or crypt, or in a multi-use space like the sacristy or chapter room? Was the tomb an independent floor slab or wall monument? What was it made of? How was it decorated? My next steps are to gather more data from the Florentine archives in order to revise three papers given at the 2011, 2012, and 2013 meetings of the Renaissance Society of America as a peer-reviewed scholarly article.

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