Clients and families, palaces and monasteries

Clients and families, palaces and monasteries

Thanks to his profession of notary Ser Piero, Leonardo's father, had close ties and friendships with the most prominent families in Florence, and not there alone (think, for instance, of the Bentivoglio, Lords of Bologna). He also worked for many civil and religious institutes, such as the monasteries of San Pier Martire, of San Donato a Scopeto and of the Santissima Annunziata. In the monasteries and palaces of Florence, Leonardo had various opportunities to accede to material for study and to receive commissions for paintings, as well as some assignments as consultant and designer.

  • As reported by Vasari, it was in Palazzo Benci that Amerigo Benci kept for years the unfinished Adoration of the Magi. The same Amerigo Benci had commissioned Leonardo to paint a portrait, now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, of his daughter Ginevra. In several manuscripts Leonardo mentions among his companions a certain "Giovanni di Amerigo Benci".

  • A memorandum by Leonardo in the Codex Atlanticus refers to Pier Francesco of the Ginori family, whose palazzo stands in the street of the same name. Among the family members we may recall Gabriello Ginori, who was Podestà of Milan when Leonardo too was in the capital city of the Sforza duke. In the 18th century the Ginori descendants founded the famous porcelain factory at Doccia.

  • SSer Piero lived until 1480 in Via delle Prestanze, enlarged in the 19th century by the implementation of Poggi's projects for Florence as capital of Italy, and forming the present-day Via dei Gondi. The building belonged to the Arte dei Mercatanti who sold it in 1485 to Giuliano Gondi, who already owned the adjoining house. After the building was demolished, Giuliano da Sangallo built the current Palazzo Gondi, where an inscription recalls the presence of Leonardo. It is interesting to note that Leonardo mentions in the Codex Atlanticus (f. 1024v), among his other friends, Giuliano Gondi.

  • Ser Piero already had close relations with the Medici family, with whom his son Leonardo had an important relationship in two periods of his life. The artist attended the Garden of Lorenzo the Magnificent, who sent him to Milan in 1482 to donate a silver lyre to Ludovico il Moro. In 1512 the Medici returned to Florence, Giovanni was elected Pope with the name of Leo X and Leonardo went to Rome with Giuliano, commissioner of the Gioconda. He studied a new Medici palace opposite Palazzo Medici Riccardi and a rearrangement of the surrounding quarter. He also designed the Medicean Stalls.

  • The Pandolfini family was one of the most important in Florence at the time of Leonardo, who mentions "Pandolfino" in several writings. Francesco Pandolfini, Florentine ambassador to the court of the King of France, wrote to the Signoria reporting that Louis XII wished for Leonardo to remain in Milan.

  • Leonardo mentions several times the Pazzi family, of which he apparently frequented the house. The artist followed the vicissitudes of the conspiracy against the Medici, as shown by the famous drawing of the "Hanged man", and studied Brunelleschi's architecture in the Pazzi Chapel in Santa Croce.

  • This important Florentine family intermarried with the Medici was on friendly terms with Leonardo's father. The renowned Palazzo Rucellai was built in the mid-fifteenth century by Bernardo Rossellino to the design of Alberti inspired the architecture of some of the most important Florentine palaces. The only hydraulic device designed by Leonardo whose invention is documented is the water meter said to have been sent by him from France to Bernardo Rucellai.

  • Returning to Florence in 1500, Leonardo settled in the convent of the Santissima Annunziata, having been commissioned for executing the paintings for the high altar of the church: Vasari informs us that in those rooms he worked on the cartoon of the Saint Anne, very much admired; the location of the latter, which is not the one now in the National Gallery of London, is still unknown.

  • Mount Oliveto is a hill lying just outside the historic city gate of San Frediano. In 1472 the church of San Bartolomeo and its monastery were enlarged and renovated in the Renaissance style. The church was decorated with an Annunciation by Leonardo, which in 1867 was moved to the Uffizi. A Last Supper by Sodoma, a follower of Leonardo, is still conserved there.

  • The Monastery with its church was situated just outside the walls of Florence, in the vicinity of Porta Romana: the monastery was bought by the Augustinians in 1420. Ser Piero Da Vinci, Leonardo's father, was their notary. For them Leonardo began, in 1481, the great panel of the Adoration of the Magi, which he left unfinished. Today the painting is in the Uffizi.

  • Leonardo frequently refers to San Marco, one of the major centres of Florentine cultural and religious life. f notable importance in relation to Leonardo's Last Supper in Milan is the fresco of the same subject painted by Ghirlandaio in this monastery.

  • This is the only church outside the city's walls that was not razed to the ground during the siege of 1529. The Baptism of Verrocchio, which comes from here, shows the participation of Leonardo in the landscape, in the angel on the left, in the figure of Christ and in other details. In the building of Romanesque origin is the Last Supper of Andrea del Sarto.

  • This extraordinary architectural complex contains a series of masterpieces admired by Leonardo, such as the cycle of frescoes by Giotto and the Crucifix of Cimabue in the refectory, or Brunelleschi's Pazzi Chapel taken by him as model. In the Codex Atlanticus an enigmatic annotation refers to a work commissioned to Leonardo for Santa Croce.

  • On March 22, 1508, at the end of what is considered Leonardo's second stay in Florence, he lived in via degli Spadai (today's via Martelli), «in the house of Piero di Braccio Martelli», together with the sculptor Giovan Francesco Rustici, whom he assisted in sculpting three bronze statues to adorn the outside of the Baptistery (the Preaching of St . John). In this Palace, later encapsulated in the Scolopi boarding school, Leonardo began to compile a part of the Codex Arundel.