|ANNE WANNER'S Textiles in History / books|
imposing 614 page catalogue, all in Italian, edited by
Nicoletta Baldini and Monica Bietti covers
Giovanni de' Medici's entire life-span (Florence 1475 -
Rome 1521). Essays and detailed catalogue entries have
been contributed by numerous
Nello Splendore Mediceo - Papa Leone X e Firenze (Amid Medici) Splendour - Pope Leo X in Florence), 2nd March - 6th October 2013, Medici chapels. St. Lorenzo Church, Florence, Italy
of catalogue by Rosalia Bonito Fanelli, as published in:
the Medieval Dress and Textile Society, Volume 5, Issue
11, May 2013, www.medats.org.uk
This exhibition opened in March in the Medici Chapels of San Lorenzo Church in Florence. Panel texts are bilingual Italian and English.
The imposing 614 page catalogue, all in Italian, edited by Nicoletta Baldini and Monica Bietti covers Giovanni de' Medici's entire life-span (Florence 1475 - Rome 1521). Essays and detailed catalogue entries have been contributed by numerous
The personality of Giovanni de Medici has been evoked through the objects which surrounded him or which were his personal possessions. We can envision this transformation. The chubby young man who, while tutored by the eminent Neoplatonic humanist scholars, also enjoyed hunting and musical festivities in the family's Tuscan villas. The portly mature man then becomes the major European religious and political figure of the High Renaissance. Pope Leo X is surrounded by magnificent opulence created by the most important artists (Michelangelo and Raphael), but also by court intrigues.
Particular emphasis is given in the exhibition to Pope Leo X's ceremonial entry into Florence on the 30 November, 1515. A journey which symbolized the return of Medici control over Florence after the Republican governance of Savonarola and Piero Soderini. A multimedia display recreates the scenographic celebration arches and street decor which the papal retinue would have seen. These ephemeral stage-sets, little of which still remains, were designed by such Florentine artists as Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio, Francesco Granacci and Rosso Florentino.
Splendid textiles also were an important part of papal luxury. A lectern cover (312 x 58 cm) from the Cortona Passerini vestmenls. circa 1515, is highlighted in the exhibition. This Florentine cloth-of-gold and crimson velvet is similar in style to that of Leo X's personal set of ceremonial vestments. However, a papal banner (315 x 67 cm) is the sole remaining extant piece of the rich set of vestments presented around 1516 by Leo X to the San Lorenzo Church.
Relating archival documents to this object Josephine Rogers Mariotti attributes the execution of the coat-of-arms embroideries to Galieno di Michele (1454, documented until 1520). She also suggests that a payment made by Grovanni de Medici between 1513 and 1514 to the Florentine silk merchant Nicholo di Tommaso Antinori for "33 braccia di drappi di brochato doro rosso riccio sopra riccio col fondo d'oro tirato" may pertain to this regalia.
She also notes that the church archives, studied in 1993 by Paolo Peri, state that the original set of papal vestments was dismantled and the banner recomposed and refurbished with additional embroidery "alla moderna" in 1752. I have a personal comment to make here on this last point. In fact, the cartouche design with the rocaille form around the Medici coat-of-arms is eighteenth-century style. But in 1752 would "alla moderna" signify the transfer of power in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany from the Media to the Austrian Habsburg House of Lorraine? One may ask, was it simply the dismantling of worn-out materals with Medici emblems? The Lorraine program of suppression of ecclesiastical possessions was underway.
I think this banner tells the story of what occurs with textile usage and the vagaries of changing fashion. Each object is a palimpsest. And all these strata of transformations are not immediately discernible.
Another point is the availability of more precise instruments for scientific study. Thanks now to constant developments in technical equipment used in conservation laboratories scientific, artistic and even documental research can be facilitated.
At the recent Textile Society Natalie Rothstein Tribute and Silk Symposium in London (Welcome Institute, 15th -16th March 2013) this point was also expressed by Sonia O'Connor and Mary M. Brooks who have worked in the conservation field.
Rosalia Bonito Fanelli
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