2016 | Florence – Architecture of the MediciCopyright: Anke Naujokat
The city of Florence and its surroundings are characterized by the buildings of the Medici family. In the 15th century, they were the founders of a new, rhetorically motivated architectural style that intertwined recourse to the architecture of ancient Rome with borrowings from the medieval building tradition of the nobility. The aim was to express and legitimize their newly acquired economic and political power by means of art and architecture.
In the context of our excursion, we looked at the architecture of the Medici in and around Florence in two periods, each of which focused on the inner-city buildings as well as the villa buildings with their respective gestures towards the city, territories and landscape.
In the 15th century, at the time of the Republic, the Medici extended their unofficial rule over the city by architectural means. The buildings they donated occupied striking political and sacred locations on the outskirts of the republican city centre, specifically quoting venerable local symbolic buildings and using painting, sculpture and heraldry as media of well-calculated self-representation. By supporting architects and artists who promoted the renewal of the arts in a return to Roman antiquity, the Medicis' buildings became the expression of a modern and open humanist culture. The competitors of the Medici accepted the architectural challenge, so that a cross-city architectural competition emerged, which we experienced on site.
In the 16th century, at the time of the Grand Duchy, the Medici staged themselves as official heads of state and used their building politics to legitimize their own rule by appropriating and reinterpreting the republican past. They now took possession of the old republican administrative district in the city centre. Architectural interventions such as the construction of the Uffizi, as well as the new program of figures in the Piazza della Signoria, bear witness to the desire to take over the republican institutions and thus express the centralization of power. Accordingly, the villa buildings followed the castle scheme of the feudal period in a reactionary way.