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The Chapel of the Magi in Palazzo Medici

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by F. Cardini
preface by C. Acidini Luchinat
with an essay by L. Ricciardi

publication year: 2001
paperback
140x210 mm; 96 pp.
110 colour illustrations

978-88-85957-64-1 English
978-88-85957-86-2 French
978-88-7461-058-0 German
978-88-85957-63-3 Italian
978-88-7461-239-0 Spanish

“The Chapel of the Magi in Palazzo Medici-Riccardi is one of those place in Italy – many, but not too many – in which history and art combine to bear witness to the past in a way that is absolutely exceptional. In this case we are dealing with a period in the past that has been extraordinarily celebrated, studied and loved, so as to achieve an almost mythic status: the age of the Renaissance in Medicean Florence. (…)

Nearly ten years have gone by since the conclusion of the restoration and the publication of scholarly studies (both as part of the Laurentian celebrations and independently), and it is now highly opportune that the essence of these writings should have been distilled by Franco Cardini, the author of so many enlightening pages on the Florentine Middle Ages and Renaissance, as well as on the Chapel itself. His synthesis is completed by Lucia Ricciardi’s essay, full of useful information on the heraldic, symbolic and allegorical imagery related to the Medici family. (…)

If it is true – as we believe – that every ancient testimony of human creativity bears the marks of its own uniqueness and irreplaceability, then it is all the more certain that the Chapel of the Magi is unique and irreplaceable, where art, faith, culture and power came together in an exceptional combination of circumstances, to give to the world a masterpiece of evocative capacity that is without equal. On the walls of the Chapel, among the precious furnishings that surround them, Benozzo’s paintings link the remote past of the Nativity and the Journey of the Magi with the contemporary world of 15th-century Florence, presenting us with a collective portrait – both fascinating and mysterious – of a dinasty that was primus inter pares in the society of its time: the Medici, at the peak of their influence and riches in the happy year 1456, from the aged Cosimo to his first-born son Piero and his grandsons Lorenzo and Giuliano, with their relatives and associates and distinguished guests. We who are admitted to these memories, still so vivid and expressive after more than five centuries, enjoy a journey back through time, one that thrills and enriches us.”

(From the preface by C. Acidini Luchinat, Superintendent of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure.)

Franco Cardini, internationally known as a historian, is Professor of Medieval History at the University of Florence. He writes for many Italian and foreign journals, publishers and institutions.