This dissertation considers Michelangelo s intended sculptural program for the never-realized fa ade of the Medici parish church of San Lorenzo in Florence, and how its iconography related to the Medici, the Papacy, and the city of Florence. In 1516, Pope Leo X de M...
This dissertation considers Michelangelo s intended sculptural program for the never-realized fa ade of the Medici parish church of San Lorenzo in Florence, and how its iconography related to the Medici, the Papacy, and the city of Florence. In 1516, Pope Leo X de Medici commissioned Michelangelo to complete both the sculpture and the architecture of the fa ade. This project, which Michelangelo claimed would be the mirror of architecture and sculpture of all Italy, was to be the most prestigious commission of the sixteenth century and Michelangelo s most ambitious creation. But, for the Medici patrons, the sculptural program for the fa ade would have been the ultimate expression of Medici propaganda. Chapter one is a study of the history of San Lorenzo and generations of Medici patronage at their parish church. The sculptural program for the fa ade would have visually communicated the Medici dynasty and their destiny, and thus, the account of the San Lorenzo fa ade project starts here. Chapter two provides an overview of the fa ade commission and Michelangelo s involvement on the project from 1516 to 1520. Chapter three is dedicated to Michelangelo s architectural fa ade drawings for San Lorenzo, and his figural drawings for statuary that have been previously unassigned to a known project or connected to his other sculptural projects. These drawings are considered afresh in conjunction with the vast extant correspondence from this period, with the primary focus on Michelangelo s concern for the sculptural decoration of the fa ade. Chapters four and five use the methodologies of iconography and iconology to reconstruct the intended plan for the sculptures on the fa ade. Michelangelo greatly enlarged the original sculptural program from ten over-life-sized marble statues, to eighteen freestanding over-life-sized marble and bronze statues, and nineteen relief panels. This expanded sculptural program relied on a calculated arrangement of the saints and their placement on the fa ade, which had specific meanings and connotations for the Medici, for Florence, and for the Medici in the papal court in Rome. Appendix A of the dissertation is a detailed chronological account of the fa ade project as extrapolated and compiled from more than three-hundred extant letters.