Basilica di San Lorenzo

One of the largest churches in Florence, the Basilica of San Lorenzo was the parish church
 of the Medici family, and many of the major family members are buried in the Basilica. The founder
of the Medici dynasty, Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici financed the construction of a new church in 1419, and
commissioned Filippo Brunelleschi (the father of Renaissance architecture) to design and build it.
The resulting structure is considered to be a milestone in Renaissance architecture, and
houses sculpture and architectural works by Donatello other Renaissance artists.

Many of these images are highly detailed, resulting in large file sizes.
In many cases, I have included pixel dimensions and file size.

Click an image to open a larger version
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Exteriors and Cloisters

Entry Paintings, High Altar and Chapels



Annunziata by Lippo Lippi

Old Sacristy (Sagrestia Vecchia)

Tabernacle of the Sacrament

Donatello Pulpits


Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Florence Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

Direct Link to the Galleries with images of San Lorenzo:

Florentine Churches: San Lorenzo
Art and Sculpture of Florence

There are a number of images in this section that are not yet on the Photoshelter site.
If an image you want is not yet uploaded, contact Ron Reznick (info at bottom of page).


There are 11 Galleries in the Photoshelter Florence Collection


Founded in 393 outside the city walls, San Lorenzo is one of several churches that
claim to be the oldest in Florence (bragging rights are important). It was the city’s Cathedral
for 300 years, before the bishop was transferred to Santa Reparata, the church that was replaced
in the 13th century by Santa Maria del Fiore, the Cathedral of Florence. It is part of a large complex that
includes the Medici Chapel, the Old and New Sacristies, and the Laurentian Library, plus cloisters
and other structures, many of which are important examples of Renaissance architecture.

As you will soon see... sometimes it is hard to get into San Lorenzo, but it is well worth the effort.


San Lorenzo Storm 4811
1500 x 725 (408 KB)

Shot during a total downpour from atop Giotto’s Campanile at Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, this
shows the San Lorenzo complex to the right, with Santa Maria Novella at the top left near the train station.

Leaf Filter


Basilica di San Lorenzo 4848
1500 x 1290 (781 KB)

Taken a little later after the rain had let up a bit, using a telephoto lens at a wider aperture to
allow me to shoot around the raindrops, this is the Medici Chapel dome and the Bell Tower.
The dome of the Medici Chapel resembles Brunelleschi’s Dome for Santa Maria del Fiore,
but it is significantly smaller (of course). Completed by Bernardo Buontalenti in 1603-1604.


San Lorenzo Facade 4227

With all the money that was put into the church, you’d
think they would have put up a facade, but they never did.
Michelangelo designed a wooden model of the facade to
be created in white Carrara marble, but it was never built.
Interestingly, there is recent discussion on building the
Michelangelo facade, and a computer-driven laser
image was projected onto the church facade
 in 2007 (no decision has been made yet).


Cloister San Lorenzo 4228

As you could see from the previous image, the
church was closed when I got there, so I puttered
around in the cloisters. Designed by Brunelleschi, it
houses the Laurentian Library, which contains a vast
collection of manuscripts and codices that were bought
from Oriental merchants from the time of the founding
of the Medici Bank in the late 14th c., and contains
the roots of the Humanism movement and more.


Cloister San Lorenzo 4238

The cloisters are lined with wall monuments, and
at the end of this aisle is the monument to Paolo Giovio,
who created biographies of many important people, wrote
chronicles of the Italian Wars (1494-1559) including many
 eyewitness accounts, and other documents, such as a
  treatise on pharmacology and disease prevention.


Paolo Giovio Sangallo 4234

Francesco da Sangallo’s monument to Paolo Giovio,
physician to Popes, Historian, Biographer and Bishop.


Cloister San Lorenzo 5075

I came back again, once again in the early morning. Closed again (or still, for all I knew).
 One more trip to the cloisters for this shot, then I headed out as this was my last day.


Door San Lorenzo 5162
795 x 1290 (463 KB)

I ended up in San Marco, which was only partly open.
I saw the Salviati Chapel, then back again to San Lorenzo
(for the third time) to try my luck, and as you can see it is
still closed. Back to the cloisters we go... yet again.


St. Christopher San Lorenzo 5166 M
1000 x 1600 (453 KB)

Luca della Robbia’s polychrome tin-glazed terracotta
process made pottery more durable for exterior use, and
took (and held) paint far better than anything in the past.
He became famous for terracotta artworks, like this
statue of St. Christopher with the Christ Child.


Ancient Funerary Monument San Lorenzo 5168

An ancient funerary monument is preserved on the walls of the cloister.


Medici Coat of Arms 5171 M
900 x 1479 (401 KB)

The Medici Coat of Arms can be seen all over Florence.
This particular one is on the Baccio Bandinelli statue of
Giovanni de’ Medici (Giovanni dalle Bande Nere), the
 father of Cosimo I de’ Medici and the last of the true
condotierri (mercenary knights of Free Companies).
The medieval knight was made obsolete by mobile
cannons (Giovanni was taken down by a falconet).

The Medici dynasty was founded by the banker, Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici, who rose from a simple start to create a multi-national operation. By betting on the return of the Pope to Rome in 1410 at the end of the Western Schism, Giovanni di Bicci gained the favor of the Pope, and they began to make use of the Medici Banks, which made the Medici very wealthy. They also gained numerous valuable contracts and eventually significant fiscal and political power. Giovanni di Bicci died as one of the richest men in Europe, and his family retained power for 300 years. The Medici financed the art and culture that defined the Renaissance, and without them it likely would not have happened, as artists of the period did not start work without payment, so without patrons, there was no art.

The power of the Medici finally coalesced with Cosimo I, who in 1537 became the first Grand Duke of Tuscany. The Medici family also had several very powerful figures in the church, including Bishops, Cardinals and Popes. Medici were also related by marriage to the French throne (Caterina de’ Medici married Henry II of France), and through that line to the Kings of Spain (Philip II, III and IV), several Dukes and Kings of France, and the throne of England (Henrietta Marie of France married Charles II of England). There were also Medici who married into the Austrian royalty, whose lines yielded kings, queens and eventually a Holy Roman Emperor (Ferdinand II).

The Medici essentially ran Europe. Big operation.


Giovanni dalle Bande Nere Bandinelli 5174
1500 x 1110 (516 KB)

This relief is on the front of the sculpture of Giovanni dalle Bande Nere (of the Black Band),
in the Piazza in front of San Lorenzo. Here, Giovanni de’ Medici is being brought an eclectic
variety of gifts: prisoners, naked women, a naked man, and at center left: a man carrying a pig.
Nobody could ever figure out what Bandinelli had in mind when he created this in such a
prominent position, but the fellow carrying the pig is supposed to be a man in Rome
who pointed out to the Pope that Baccio had not finished several sculptures, but
had taken the payment, causing Bandinelli to have to repay the advances.

By the way, Baccio Bandinelli, whose statue of Giovanni dalle Bande Nere is the source of the Medici Arms
above and this image from the front of the pedestal, was a bombastic opportunist and an example of one of
the less talented sculptors of the Renaissance, who somehow became one of the favorites of the Medici,
getting some truly special commissions over far more talented sculptors. This statue, and many others
he created throughout Florence, did not even rate a second look. He was almost universally reviled by
 his peers (although he thought that he was the best sculptor alive, including Michelangelo). One good
 story is that when the marble for one of his major sculptures fell off a boat into the Arno, the locals
said that the marble had tried to drown itself rather than be hacked on by Baccio. He wasn’t all
bad, of course... he created some good work (see the statue of the crowning of Charles V in
the Hall of 500, Palazzo Vecchio), and he trained Giorgio Vasari, but he never achieved his
primary goal, which was to gain recognition from the Florentines as Michelangelo’s equal.

Leaf Filter


San Lorenzo Facade 5191
816 x 1290 (607 KB)

As you can see, after our little interlude, the church
is finally open. I was beginning to run out of time again.
Let’s go in and see some Renaissance masterworks.


Door San Lorenzo 5192

This door is something pretty special itself.
I suppose you saw the Medici coat of arms in relief
on the outside. Look at the reliefs on the inside of the door.


Interior door reliefs San Lorenzo 5194
979 x 1560 (663 KB)

This is some pretty fine artwork for a door (it’s a pretty exceptional door, though).
I’m already impressed, and I’m not even in the door yet. The anticipation mounts.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Florence Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

Direct Link to the Galleries with images of San Lorenzo:

Florentine Churches: San Lorenzo
Art and Sculpture of Florence

There are a number of images in this section that are not yet on the Photoshelter site.
If an image you want is not yet uploaded, contact Ron Reznick (info at bottom of page).


There are 11 Galleries in the Photoshelter Florence Collection


Conti Crucifixion Basilica di San Lorenzo 5197

The court painter of the Marquises Riccardi,
Francesco Conti dominated religious painting for
fifty years in Florence. He was fond of brilliant color,
and probably painted this in the 1720s or 1730s.


Canovai Madonna Basilica di San Lorenzo 5201

Madonna Enthroned with St. Lawrence and St. Zenobi
by Z. Canovai, a rather obscure late 19th century artist.
San Lorenzo is of course named for St. Lawrence, and
 St. Zenobi (Zenobius) is co-Patron Saint of Florence,
so this was a safe subject, but  Zenobius (337-417)
and Lawrence (225-258) are wearing anachronistic
 clothes, and the architecture is Mannerist or Baroque.
Maybe I’m being picky, but this doesn’t make sense.


High Altar San Lorenzo 5316 M
884 x 1600 (355 KB)

The High Altar, organ and a spectacularly frescoed dome at the end of the nave.
The transept crossing is through this intersection. This dome drew my eye from the
moment I entered the nave. Note the shot number above and below. I went straight in
and shot the dome, then wandered around shooting this and that before remembering
to go back and shoot the scene. Guess I was a bit flummoxed. That does happen...


Cupola San Lorenzo 5206 M
1500 x 1290 (620 KB)

I’m giving you two angles of this dome. Above is the view from the nave,
and below is the view shooting from the right side. Magnificent frescoes.

By the way, you might think from looking at the images that there was plenty
of light to work with. Not so... the image above was handheld (as they all are)
at 1/25 second at f/2, in other words, I was shooting a very fast lens nearly wide
open at a shutter speed that yields marginal results, and I had to underexpose
over a stop to yield even this shutter speed. It was not a bright day, and there
was not much light getting in to the church. This caused major challenges.


Cupola San Lorenzo 5212 M
1500 x 1290 (576 KB)


High Altar San Lorenzo 5215
Another long exposure shot (1/30 sec. at f/1.4)


High Altar San Lorenzo 5280


Chapel San Lorenzo 5208 M
900 x 1525 (322 KB)


Chapel San Lorenzo 5208 detail

I’m providing a large shot and a detail crop of
both this chapel and the next one. I did hours of
research trying to find out anything about these
two chapels, and could find nothing. I hope some
person reading this page who knows about one or
the other chapel will contact me with information.


Chapel Altar San Lorenzo 5224 M
1148 x 1525 (458 KB)

This altar has an inscription that starts: Laurentio M. Ambrosio Medici et Zenobio. I assume that means it is dedicated to St. Lawrence, St. Ambrose (who consecrated the church in 393) and St. Zenobius, patron saint of Florence, but I can get no more information. Anybody out there know anything about it?


Chapel Altar San Lorenzo 5245


Niccolo Martelli Donatello San Lorenzo 5233
1515 x 1092 (390 KB)

In the north transept is the monument to Niccolo Martelli, the
Florentine grammarian who founded the Accademia Fiorentina in 1541.
The sarcophagus itself, in the form of a wickerwork basket, was commissioned
by Roberto Martelli for the family chapel c. 1464, and along with the bronze pulpits and
his detailing throughout the Old Sacristy, is one of the many works by Donatello in San Lorenzo.
Donatello received his early education in the home of the Martelli family before he started
his career by working briefly in Lorenzo Ghiberti’s goldsmith workshop and studio.


Countess Moltke-Hwitfeldt San Lorenzo 5250 M
980 x 1575 (384 KB)

Monument to Contessa Moltke-Hwitfeldt, North transept, by Giovanni Dupre (1858-64). Contessa Berta Moltke-Hwitfeldt was the wife of Luigi Ferrari-Corbelli, Knight Commander of Malta. He was the inventor of an early patented Aluminum extraction process (patented in 1858, before Alcoa).


Countess Moltke-Hwitfeldt San Lorenzo 5250 detail

Detail of the central sculptures of the angel carrying
away the Contessa Moltke-Hwitfeldt Ferrari-Corbelli.
Giovanni Dupre blended late Renaissance and
Baroque styling in creating this monument.

That’s quite a name she had.


Donatello Tomb San Lorenzo 5235 M
1000 x 1575 (378 KB)

The Tomb of Donatello in the North Transept. The design of the tomb,
in Pietra Serena sandstone, is reminiscent of Donatello’s Annunciation
for the Cavalcanti Chapel in Santa Croce. This was one of those difficult
handheld long exposure shots. Because there was so little light, I had to
underexpose by 2.3 stops to achieve a shutter speed of 1/20 at f/1.4.
The result was dark, and processing the shot was extremely difficult.
Until very recently my technique would not yield results that were
worth showing, so this is the first time this shot is displayed.


Annunziata Crucifix Lippo Lippi 5241

Filippo Lippi’s Annunciation was painted for the Martelli family chapel between 1440 and 1445. It is one of the earliest altar paintings done in a rectangular format rather than the peaked polyptych style, and it is still in its original frame. This is one of a great many Annunciations that Fra Filippo Lippi created.

Fra Filippo Lippi (Lippo Lippi) was quite a character for his time, and was also a great influence on many Renaissance painters who followed him. Some of his more famous pupils were Sandro  Botticelli and his son Filippino Lippi who became as famous a painter as his father (Filippino was the result of a juicy scandal with Lucrezia Buti, who was either a young novice nun or a girl that was placed in the nun’s care).

His patrons were several members of the Medici family, from Cosimo I through Lorenzo the Magnificent, who erected the monument to Fra Filippo Lippi in Spoleto, where he died in 1469 while he was painting the frescoes in the apse of the Spoleto Cathedral.

Lippo Lippi occasionally did quite well, making considerable profit from the many commissions he received for fresco work and other art, but he lived constantly in a state of chronic poverty. Apparently, he was quite a ladies man. Vasari said that if he saw a woman who pleased him, he would give all his possessions to have her, and if he couldn’t succeed, he quieted the flame of his love by painting her portrait. Once, he was working for Cosimo de’ Medici, and Cosimo locked him up in the house so he wouldn’t waste time. This worked for two days, until he could stand it no more, and cut up his sheets to climb out the window. When Cosimo found him missing, he sent people out to look for him (he came back later). After this, Cosimo supplied him with mistresses to keep him working.

One story about his death at Spoleto is that the Pope had granted him a dispensation to allow him to marry Lucrezia, but that he was either poisoned by the relatives of Lucrezia or by some other woman whom he was dallying with. Nobody knows for sure... but they are pretty sure he was poisoned.


Annunziata Lippo Lippi 5241 M
1500 x 1290 (516 KB)

A large detail crop of Filippo Lippi’s Annunciation. Note the two angels on the left.
One is glancing back at the viewer, gesturing towards the Annunciation scene. Nobody
has ever been able to explain the presence of the other two angels (they are not in the story).
Also, Lippi placed a column right in the middle of the composition, and a flask in the foreground.
The inside of the building seems to continue through to the outside and connect to the other buildings.
Also, note the shell-like halos... especially on the kneeling angel. Almost looks like a hat, doesn’t it?

Return to the top of this page


Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Florence Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

Direct Link to the Galleries with images of San Lorenzo:

Florentine Churches: San Lorenzo
Art and Sculpture of Florence

There are a number of images in this section that are not yet on the Photoshelter site.
If an image you want is not yet uploaded, contact Ron Reznick (info at bottom of page).


There are 14 Galleries in the Photoshelter Florence Collection


The Old Sacristy (Sagrestia Vecchia) is the oldest part of the current church. It was built by
Brunelleschi between 1420 and 1428, and represents a milestone in Renaissance architecture.
A fusion between the genius of two great artists, it blends Brunelleschi’s architectural innovation
with Donatello’s sculpture (and parts by other important artists as well). Originally designed
as a pure space lacking the traditional ornamentation of earlier religious spaces, it soon
became the scene of an erupting battle over the ornamentation of religious spaces,
The Medici sons took over patronage from their father after he died, and they
definitely had their own ideas as to how they wanted the space to look.
There were additions that altered the purity of Brunelleschi’s design.


Donatello Doors Old Sacristy
San Lorenzo 5263

Donatello’s bronze Door of the Apostles, with
Saints Cosmas and Damian atop the pediment.
Donatello also designed the door frames in a way
that does not exactly match the rest of the Old Sacristy,
which is very simple, based on circles and squares.


Donatello Doors Old Sacristy
San Lorenzo 5263 detail 1

These doors were quite controversial at the time.
Donatello was one of the first to show expressions and
postures on his figures. He has some of the Apostles
involved in heated arguments and in a few they look
as if they are about to fight. This annoyed people.


Cosmas Damian Old Sacristy San Lorenzo 5263 detail 2
1020 x 1092 (492 KB)

A large detail crop showing the reliefs of Saints Cosmas and Damian by Donatello.
The twins, Saints Cosmas and Damian, were the patron saints of doctors (medici),
and thus of the family de’ Medici as well. The chapel next door is dedicated to them.
Cosimo de’ Medici (the chief patron of the church) was born on the saint’s feast day,
so they are often seen in paintings and buildings that are associated with Cosimo.


Crucifix Simone di Nanni Ferrucci Old Sacristy 5261

Polychrome wood Crucifixion by
Simone di Nanni Ferrucci (c. 1440)

Simone di Nanni Ferrucci was a pupil of Donatello and
the father and teacher of Francesco di Simone Ferrucci,
another Florentine sculptor. Simone di Nanni Ferrucci
(1402-1469) did most of his work in marble, but
sculpted this Crucifixion scene in wood.

Tracking down this crucifix has taken years... well, not exactly, but I’ve tried tracking it down for several years and tried for days each time. Unfortunately, there was only one piece of information the last time I checked that said it was made by Donatello, and no other information was available. Over time, I have gotten to the point where I distrust identifications from certain sources, and I really don’t trust an identification that I can only get from one source. Finally, I decided to try searching in Italian. It seems they just don’t tell anyone who speaks English... I got several good IDs, and got good results on a reverse search based on Ferrucci. Goes to show you... you simply have to speak the language, or at least try to.



Dome Constellations San Lorenzo 5254 M
1500 x 1290 (512 KB)

A representation of the sky over the northern hemisphere occupies the entire surface of the cupola above the alter recess.

The fresco is attributed to Giuliano d'Arrigo (known as Pesello), under the supervision of Brunelleschi’s friend, the astronomer Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli. The scientific import is revealed by the extreme precision with which the celestial bodies are positioned. Appearing in gold against the blue background of the sky are the Moon, the Sun, Jupiter, Venus, Mercury and the main coordinates of the celestial sphere, while the personifications of some of the constellations are outlined in black with white highlights. The position of the planets shows that the painting represents the sky over Florence at dawn on July 4, 1442, an important date in Florentine history: the day that Rene d’Anjou entered Florence. Rene d’Anjou, the King of Naples, was the one who convinced Cosimo de’ Medici to open the first public library in all of Europe, and to have the University teach Greek, which opened the minds of the public to Greek concepts of life. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that an almost identical fresco was painted by d’Arrigo soon after at Santa Croce in the Chapel of the Pazzi, a family linked to the Angevin sovereign.

The background of the dome is azurite, and the sun (and the sun’s route) are done in gold.
The nearly monochrome painting technique is called grisaille (usually executed in shades of gray).


Dome Constellations San Lorenzo 5254 clip
1500 x 1500 (582 KB)

A larger version of the cupola itself, clipped from its surroundings.


Corner Detail Old Sacristy San Lorenzo 5272
1500 x 1092 (479 KB)

Corner detail in the Old Sacristy, with sculpted tondi by Donatello.
Donatello also created the frieze of cherubs and seraphim in tondi in
the entablature running around the room (in the bottom of the frame).

The tondi in this scene show St. Luke in the left lunette, St. John the Evangelist
on Patmos in the pendentive tondo, and St. John the Evangelist in the right lunette.


Tondo Detail Old Sacristy San Lorenzo
(no linked image)

Detail of the tondi in the pendentives (triangular spaces between lunettes).
These were painted in reds and golden brown, leaving the main figures and
details in the Patmos scene in white, making them stand out in sharp relief.

There was little daylight entering the Sacristy due to the stormy weather,
so the light was primarily by the upward pointing floods, thus the color.


Corner Detail Old Sacristy San Lorenzo 5276
1500 x 1092 (457 KB)

The tondi in this scene show St. Mark in the left lunette, The Resurrection
of Drusilla in the pendentive tondo, and St. Luke in the right lunette.

Brunelleschi was not at all happy with the lunette tondi. They have no
architectural significance, and were not part of the original design. Cosimo
took over the patronage after his father died, and wanted the scenes to fill the
spaces in the lunettes, plus the fact that St. John the Evangelist was his father’s
patron saint (and Cosimo’s son’s) meant that an association was created
between the space, the patron and his descendants. Still, it caused a
bit of friction between Brunelleschi and Donatello, even though
it was Cosimo’s idea (he saw it as Donatello’s work).


Tabernacle da Settignano San Lorenzo 5289 M
930 x 1500 (293 KB)

Created in 1461, the Tabernacle of the Sacrament was either intended for the Sacrament Chapel, dedicated to the Medici family saints Cosmas and Damien (as you discovered in the previous section above), or in the main chapel choir.

Desiderio da Settignano created an early Renaissance masterpiece blending the new art of perspective, medium and low relief sculpture, marvelous renderings of the Christ Child and putti, and two whimsical hip-shot candle-holding figures.


Tabernacle da Settignano San Lorenzo 5289 detail 1
960 x 1290 (393 KB)

Alluding to the work of his teacher Bernardo Rosellini and that of Donatello, he executed what is one of the more interesting pieces of early Renaissance sculpture. The pilaster-framed upper structure is reminiscent of the Donatello Annunciation in Santa Croce, but within this aedicula is a deep barrel-vaulted corridor which spatially recedes using Brunelleschi’s newly demonstrated methods of geometric perspective. In exquisite low relief reminiscent of Donatello’s best work, Desiderio rendered a half figure above the actual door of the Sacrament closet, and halfway down the corridor, angels in low relief flit in from the side passages. The piece is subtly ornamented in a way that does not detract from the scene. The Lamentation scene below does seems to be a little out of touch with the lighthearted mood of the rest of the piece. See below.


Tabernacle da Settignano San Lorenzo 5289 detail 2
1500 x 1056 (319 KB)

Detail of the lower section of Desiderio da Settignano’s Tabernacle of the Sacrament.

Even though this is a Lamentation scene, it seems to be a happy Lamentation scene.
Open the large image. Don’t the figures seem to be smiling to you? This is overall a
very lighthearted and whimsical piece of Early Renaissance sculpture, and it is one
of my favorite pieces of artwork from this period. Below is another da Settignano.


da Settignano Madonna HS7690 LG
1632 x 2136 (767 KB)

This piece is not in San Lorenzo (it is in the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena).

Beauregard Madonna, attributed to Desiderio da Settignano, c. 1455, Italian, white Carrara marble.

Desiderio de Bartolomeo di Francesco detto Ferro (da Settignano) was, like many of his contemporaries,
known for the village he came from (Settignano), and was typically referred to as Desiderio da Settignano.

Born and trained in Settignano, a village of stonecutters in Tuscany, Desiderio was one of the most talented marble sculptors at work in Florence during the Renaissance. In this sculpture, the Virgin embraces and presents the Christ Child, who stands in contrapposto, clutching his swaddling cloth in both hands, a gesture that conveys both visual and emotional meaning. It adds movement to the composition and it reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice with reference to his burial shroud. Desiderio carved the figures in low relief, paying great attention to the tangible details of texture and weight. The description of the Virgin’s dress and veil, and the soft, pudgy flesh of the Infant, appear to transcend the hardness of the medium.

Desiderio created the Beauregard Madonna in 1455, roughly six years before the Tabernacle of the Sacrament in San Lorenzo. This is called the Beauregard Madonna because that is the name of the first documented owner. In his short life (1430-1464), Desiderio created some truly masterful sculptures. He achieved some important commissions early in life based on his mastery of marble and his sensitivity, and he really had a gift in the representation of children. Note the character of the pudgy skin of the child around the knees and elbow, and the character of the folds of the dress. The textures he created here were exquisite. He invented the sculpted portraiture of children, made popular the low-relief techniques he had learned from Donatello, and had a delicacy of expression and texture unique to his time.

Half-length painted or carved images of the Madonna and Child adorned domestic interiors, especially the private chapels of wealthy and aristocratic families. As objects of devotion and prayer, they were believed to have power as intermediaries to their divine counterparts.


da Settignano Madonna detail HS7690c
(detail crop, no linked image)


Martyrdom of St. Lawrence Bronzino San Lorenzo 5296
1500 x 1092 (475 KB)

Agnolo di Cosimo (known as Il Bronzino) was the court painter for Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici.
His work influenced European portrait technique for more than a century following his death.
He created many of the frescoes in Eleanor di Toledo’s apartments in Palazzo Vecchio.

Containing some amazingly contorted poses derived from his studies of
the styles of Raphael and Michelangelo, this is a superb example of
Bronzino’s skill in portraying nudes. It was one of his last works.

The shot shows detail of the central lower half of the fresco.


Donatello Pulpit San Lorenzo 5301
1500 x 1092 (386 KB)

Donatello’s last work, these bronze pulpits were the scene of Savanarola’s fire and brimstone
sermons. The pulpits themselves are as dramatic as Savanarola’ manic sermons must have been.
Savanarola carried out the Bonfire of the Vanities which burned so many Renaissance artworks.

The Pulpit of the Passion, showing the Crucifixion and Deposition panels


Donatello Pulpit San Lorenzo 5305
1500 x 1092 (387 KB)

Pulpit of the Resurrection: Descent into Limbo, Resurrection, and Ascension panels.
The work shows a intense yet carefree technique and a partially finished surface.

These were difficult shots, both to take and to process, requiring all of my best skills.
It was rather dark, so I underexposed by 2.3 stops and still had 1/25 to 1/45 sec. @ f/1.4
(shooting handheld in European churches is like shooting inside of a cave... very challenging).

While much of the work on these pulpits was created by Donatello’s pupils working to
his designs, this Pulpit of the Resurrection definitely is the work of Donatello’s hand.


Donatello Pulpit San Lorenzo 5311
1500 x 1074 (412 KB)

The Pulpit of the Passion, showing the Flagellation, St. John the Evangelist, and Prayer in the Garden panels.


St. John the Baptist Donatello 6327 M
977 x 1500 (529 KB)

As long as I have already set a precedent for working with images not located at the venue, and
since we’re talking about Donatello’s last works... this sculpture created for the Siena Cathedral
was done in 1457, about the same time as the Judith and Holofernes in the Palazzo Vecchio.
Donatello’s late-period sculptures showed tremendous psychological depth, carrying the
stress and tension into the body itself, transforming the body into a withered husk.
He did a similar wooden statue of the Magdalene for the Florence Baptistry,
damaged in the 1966 Arno flood. Artistic tastes in Florence had changed
in the time that Donatello was gone, and his new works did not gain
patronage, so his late works were all done outside of Florence
except for the pulpits shown above, which were not quite
completed by the time the great master died (1466).

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Florence Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

Direct Link to the Galleries with images of San Lorenzo:

Florentine Churches: San Lorenzo
Art and Sculpture of Florence

There are a number of images in this section that are not yet on the Photoshelter site.
If an image you want is not yet uploaded, contact Ron Reznick (info at bottom of page).


There are 11 Galleries in the Photoshelter Florence Collection


Return to the Churches Index page


Return to the Master Index on the Florence Select page


Click the display composite above to return to the Master Index on the Florence Select page

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