The Bargello

Today Maria left the apartment at 7:30am to go shopping with our friend, Amy.  Maria has been in charge of the boys’ schooling for so long, and she deserved a break! 

Here is a picture of Maria and Amy at the Outlet shops – Italian style!  Looks very nice!

So that put me in charge of school today, and my first thought was FIELD TRIP!

I am almost embarrassed to report that I had not yet been in the Bargello Museum in Florence.  So I took Nicholas and Thomas.  I admit it wasn’t their first choice of things to do today.  But I told so many stories that they were actually disappointed when I said it was time to leave the museum.  Really.

The Bargello is Florence’s sculpture museum with some of the most famous works in the world.  I know you all are familiar with the Michelangelo David, but there are two others that were sculpted years earlier.  The David and Goliath story was always popular in Renaissance times, and before Michelangelo artists depicted David as a young boy.

This is Donatello’s David that was sculpted in the 1430s.  It caused quite a sensation at the time because it was the first nude sculpture since antiquity and because Donatello gave David a bit of a feminine look.  You’ll have to come to Florence to see all of him!

The second David is Verocchio’s version – it was completed around 1470.  Verrochio dressed his David, but he definitely kept David looking like a boy.  It was thirty years later when Michelangelo sculpted the famous manly David we all know and love.  


Michelangelo’s marble David is not in the Bargello, but here’s another look at him to see the difference from the bronze Davids of Donatello and Verrochio.  

One of my favorite Florence stories comes from the beginning of the Renaissance era.  In 1401, the city of Florence held a competition to select an artist to create the doors of the Baptistry.  The competing artists were asked to create a bronze relief panel of the Old Testament story of the sacrifice of Isaac.  The city wanted the Bapistry doors to depict scenes from the bible.  I believe about seven artisans participated, but the competition for the commission came down to two people: Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi.  Both of their entries were finished in 1402, and they are now in the Bargello. 

The first one here is Brunelleschi’s creation:   

This second one is Ghiberti’s creation:

Which one do you like better? 

Both Nicholas and Thomas chose Ghiberti’s – they just thought it was more artistic, not as violent, and just prettier.  And you know what?  The city of Florence agreed!  They picked Ghiberti to create the doors.  Lorenzo Ghiberti spent his entire career creating the doors that Michelangelo eventually referred to as the “gates of paradise.”  Had Brunelleschi won the commission, he may not have gone on to build Florence’s Duomo (that you see at the top of the blog everyday).  Things happen for a reason, right?

So I hope you enjoyed the trip to the Bargello!


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