Neville Rowley is currently a visiting professor of art history at the University of Campinas, Brazil.
A landmark volume that tells the story of the archetypal Renaissance city anew, through its art.
Located at the heart of the Italian peninsula, Florence was already a center of commerce and fine craftsmanship by 1252, when it began to mint its own currency, the gold florin, the “dollar of the Middle Ages.” The great wealth amassed by the Medici, the Strozzi, the Pitti, and other merchant and banking families was in some part responsible for the flowering of the arts, literature, philosophy, and science in the period that followed, a phenomenon that even then was recognized as, and called, a renaissance. The legacy of this great epoch, both tangible and spiritual, ensured that Florence would remain a beacon of culture through its succeeding centuries of ducal rule, eventually becoming an essential stop on the Grand Tour and a font of inspiration for figures like Stendhal and Ruskin.
And Florence was all along a city of painters, whose works not only record and interpret its history—its sights; the likenesses of its leaders and luminaries; its battles, civic myths, and patron saints—but are also an integral part of that history themselves. In this magnificent volume are assembled a wide variety of artworks, both familiar and rarely seen, that, interwoven with an authoritative text, chronicle the changing fortunes of Florence—from the age of Cimabue and Giotto, through the High Renaissance of Leonardo and Michelangelo, to the Mannerism of Vasari and Bronzino, and even to the era of modern travelers like Sargent and Degas.
The History of Florence in Painting is a feast for the eyes and the intellect, and a worthy companion to the previous volumes in this series, which present the histories of Venice, Paris, and Rome in painting.