On Wednesday, we visited the home of Michelangelo Buonarroti, also called Casa Buonarroti. He purchased this house in 1508 after he returned to Florence from Bologna. Over the next ten years, Michelangelo enlarged the house by adjoining two neighboring houses. His nephew, Leonardo Buonarroti, lived in the house and turned the three houses into a single palazzo. Leonardo’s son created the present appearance. In the palazzo there are three main windows to look in from each side and even a fake window to balance the appearance. Cosimo, the last Buonarroti, gave the palace to Florence when he died childless in 1858. Since 1964, Casa Buonarroti has been a museum.
On the ground floor, there is a collection of Etuscan and Roman Urns. They are all very small pieces of art compared to what I have seen in previous museums. The collection shows the appreciation of art in history because they are antiques. There were paintings of the Buonarroti collection, many based on Michelangelo’s work. The paintings were not as detailed in anatomy as Michelangelo’s future paintings, but told stories of myths.
Upon coming upstairs, there is the sword of Buonarroto Buonarroti, captain of the Parte Guelfa in 1392. The room next door creates some of the very first artworks of Michelangelo. Michelangelo moved into the Medici palace in the beginning of his teen years Donatello saw his talent. Michelangelo began sculpture art in the Medici Sculpture Garden. In 1489-92, Michelangelo created the Madonna of the Stairs. This relief was done in riliveo schiacciato taught to him by Donatello’s pupil Bertoldo. Up close, the relief does not seem to have much depth, however, when you take a few steps back, the intensity of each outline is amazing. The Madonna in the relief is a bit unequal in her calves; good to know Michelangelo even made mistakes. Also around this time, Michelangelo created his Battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs, 1489-92. The theme was suggested to him by Agnolo Poliziano, tutor of Lorenzo’s children. The details of muscles and the anatomy of the body are fascinating. The art is a symbol of not to drink more than you can handle and to allow your mind to lead your body. It is suspected that Michelangelo, even around the age of fourteen, has such an interest in the necessity of anatomy in his art.
Also on the second floor, there were rooms glorifying Michelangelo. Multiple artists created scenes of his life, such as the presentation of projects for San Lorenzo to Leo X, presentation of the model for St. Peter’s to Pope Paul III, and composing his poems. The entire room was covered in paintings, even the ceiling. Part of the room we could not walk on because the tiles and marble were falling apart. There was another room that glorified Michelangelo and it symbolized night and day. There were stories of the Buonarroti family and a bronze portrait of Michelangelo by one of his pupils, Daniele da Volterra.
During the 16th century, wealthy families had chapels in their houses and the priest would come to the house for mass. Casa Buonarroti had a chapel with a beautiful ceiling and a miniature dome-like structure in the middle. There were frescos with Florentine saints and an inlaid altar with Holy Family, designed by Calenzuoli from a design by Pietro da Cortona.
The library was in the next room, where Illustrious Florentines were painted on the higher part of the walls. There are many Florentines on the walls; they all circle the room looking into the center where we were standing. The powder room is the last room on the second floor. There are signs that show how toilets had yet to be invented, and therefore were not present in the room. However, there was art, such as the Discobolus original by Myron 450 BC.
Downstairs, there is a new area that is dedicated to festivities done in honor of Michelangelo for the fourth centennial of his birth. There are sculptures that embrace the practice and usefulness of anatomy in the art of the human body. Michelangelo in his younger years, spent days in a mortuary dissecting cadavers in order to understand anatomy to a fuller extent. The stories of Michelangelo are fascinating because it shows how much he truly enjoyed his profession.