Paul Davies will speak on ‘Saving the soul of Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici: function and design in the Old Sacristy’
Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici (c.1360-1429), founder of the Medici bank, was buried in the sacristy of S. Lorenzo in Florence. This sacristy was certainly a lavish structure, and one designed and furnished by the leading artists of the day, Brunelleschi and Donatello, but why did he want to be buried in a sacristy? This question is usually answered by considering the opportunities the new chapel afforded for conspicuous consumption and, by extension. for rivalry with other leading Florentine families, most notably the Strozzi who had only just begun a lavish sacristy at S. Trinita. While not dismissing this motive as a contributory factor, this paper considers whether there were more pressing reasons for his choice. It asks whether he believed interment in a sacristy might help save his soul and it goes on to consider whether this notion affected how the sacristy was designed.
All this term’s seminars take place in the History of Art Department at Birkbeck (43, Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0PD) in Room 106 at 5pm. Talks finish by 5.30pm (allowing those with other commitments to leave) and are then followed by discussion and refreshments.