Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Italian Renaissance (pt. 14)

Medici popularity could only last so long, and the Albizzi were eager to take their place.  After Lorenzo de Medici's tyrannical reign, the people of Florence began to tire of this ruling family.  The Albizzi saw this as their chance to gain control, and before long they got their wish of domain over Florence.  The Medici were exiled after Lorenzo de Medici's death.
Michelangelo's famous sculpture of David enters the scene here.  It was commissioned to be a part of the outer design of a Florentine cathedral, which explains why the hands and head are disproportionately large.  It was supposed to be viewed from below (the statue would have been on the cathedral buttress), so the head and hands would appear normal size from below if they were enlarged.  However, it was not put as a decoration to any cathedral.  Michelangelo's David was placed in the town hall of Florence, since David became a symbol of the city itself.  This "mascot" of theirs, too, had been a minority and had defeated a gigantic and powerful enemy—just like the people of Florence who "defeated" the bullying Medici and competing city-states like Milan and Venice.  There were more commissions of David made, but Michelangelo's proved to be the Spear Bearer of its time, thought to be the most perfect human depiction yet crafted by man.
For the David, Michelangelo used water to limit the dust around the marble and also to keep himself cool while working.  It took the sculptor more than two years to finish this masterpiece, which stands 17 feet today.  Notice how David carries his sling over his shoulder and stands upright with determined eyes glaring at his foe—the image of confidence.
The bloody reign of the Albizzi became so bad that the Medici returned from exile nine years later, and the chief political advisor of Florence, Niccol√≤ Machiavelli, was thrown into prison and then exiled, during which time he wrote his famous (or infamous) book The Prince, which marked the beginning of the separation of ethics from politics.  Giovanni de Medici became Pope Leo X, and the Medici once again took power in Florence.

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