Twilight, dawn, day & night to remember two unknown Medici members – Discover the Medici Chapels!


posted by on History & Culture, Visit Tuscany


We all visit the Accademia Gallery – an amazing museum – often forgetting that there’s another place in which we can admire Michelangelo’s sculptures in peace: the Medici Chapels.

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Medici Chapels

For this reason, on a Monday morning (when the Accademia Gallery is closed..) I took the opportunity to have a captivating guided tour of this fascinating museum!
The New Sacristy was commissioned by the Pope Leo X – son of Lorenzo the Magnificent – in order to keep the remembrance of two Medici dukes died very young without a legitimate heir…

Lorenzo dei Medici’s Tomb

The first one is Lorenzo dei Medici, duke of Urbino and son of Piero the Unfortunate (whose father was Lorenzo the Magnificent), who died in 1519 at the age of 27. Michelangelo portrayed him in a thoughtful pose, but far from representing the physiognomy of the deceased, he chose an idealized portrait: here is a Roman general, immersed in thought.
We should not forget that Machiavelli dedicated The Prince to Lorenzo…                         To the right, in front of his statue, there’s Giuliano the Medici, duke of Nemours, son of Lorenzo the Magnificent (and brother of the Pope!). Giuliano dressed in armour with the staff of command, looks as a self-confident general, while history tells us how weak and sickly he was. In the New Sacristy, designed by Michelangelo, the two leaders embody the contemplative and the active life.

Giuliano dei Medici’s Tomb

Why did Michelangelo decided not to stick to reality? He also chose to neglect the dukes’ physiognomies. He meditates on time consuming everything, that’s why nobody will remember their real aspect; only fame can pass memory to posterity.
Time was a theme Michelangelo was very interested in, also in his sculptures the movement was imprisoned in the stone…

The figure representing the Night, on Giuliano’s Tomb

Above each sarcophagus, we find two reclining figures, representing the natural day cycle: Dusk and Dawn for Lorenzo Duke of Urbino and Day and Night for Giuliano Duke of Nemours. I was really impressed by the muscular smooth nude of the Night who has a calm face but is accompanied by the owl, symbol of darkness and a masque reminding nightmares…

Cappella dei Principi

Cappella dei Principi's Dome

Cappella dei Principi’s Dome

This was just a small part of the stories that our professional and entertaining guide told us during the tour… I also discovered more about the Medici dynasty and was enchanted by the complex semi-precious stones decorations and the frescos of the Cappella dei Principi (Chapel of the Princes)…

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit such a hidden treasure, right in the heart of the Medicean District!

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