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The Opera del Duomo Museum in Florence

C. Montrésor

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text by C. Montrésor
edited by A. Paoletti and M. Fintoni

publication year: 2000
paperback
150x210 mm, 192 pp.
over 300 colour illustrations

88-85957-59-5 English
88-85957-60-9 French
88-85957-61-7 German
88-85957-58-7 Italian
88-85957-62-5 Spanish

The Opera del Duomo Museum, Florence, houses works that were conceived and made for the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, for Giotto’s Campanile and for the Baptistery of San Giovanni: a unique collection, in many respects.

The first of these is its artistic value: here are masterpieces by artists such as Arnolfo di Cambio, Andrea Pisano, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Luca della Robbia, Donatello. Michelangelo is represented by the celebrated Pietà del Duomo. Known all over the world for its sculpture, the collection also comprises paintings, illuminated manuscripts, goldsmiths’ work, liturgical vestments, building equipment, architectural models and drawings.

This priceless collection – together with thousands of documents covering a period of over 700 years – is still housed today at the Opera del Duomo, an institution founded in the late 13th century by the Florentine Republic to supervise the construction of the Cathedral.
But what is especially striking in the Museum’s newly rearranged rooms is an extraordinary sense of unity, arising from the overwhelming desire of all the artists – from the greatest sculptor to the most obscure goldsmith – to make their own mark on an immense enterprise, the construction and decoration of one of the greatest monumental complexes of the world.

This is the grand theme which emerges from the new arrangement: the portrait of a city which for centuries has deployed all its artistic, financial and administrative resources to create something without equal anywhere. “For us no memorial remains”, said Filippo Brunelleschi, “save the walls which bear witness to their makers, for hundreds and thousands of years”. Of the success of this venture – on which he himself set the seal of genius – the visitor of today must be the judge.