Triumphal entry of Pope Leo X and his sojourn
- Protagonists :
- Pope Leo X de’ Medici; Giulio de’ Medici later Pope Clement VII; Lorenzo de’ Medici Duke of Urbino; Giuliano de’ Medici Duke of Nemours; Piero di Cosimo; Andrea del Sarto; Pontormo; Rosso Fiorentino; Andrea di Cosimo Feltrini; Francesco Granacci; Baccio Bandinelli.
- Epoch, date:
- Description and history :
On 30 November 1515, on the feast of Saint Andrew, Leo X made his triumphal entry into Florence traversing the streets of the city from Porta San Pier Gattolini (Porta Romana) as far as Santa Maria Novella.
The magnificent cortege was accompanied by sumptuous and spectacular ephemeral scenic decorations set up in the streets, made of stucco, wood, papier-mâché and painted canvas, mostly representing copies of ancient statues, triumphal arches, friezes and celebratory paintings. This extraordinary apparatus, which has been lost but was recorded and celebrated by intellectuals and chroniclers of the time, was created by eminent artists, such as Piero di Cosimo, Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo, Rosso Fiorentino, Andrea di Cosimo Feltrini, Francesco Granacci and Baccio Bandinelli. Upon the instructions of the Medici they created the image of a Florence disguised as ancient Rome, innate in which there was also possibly the notion of an earthly equivalent of the ‘celestial’ Jerusalem (Ciseri 1990).
Giorgio Vasari who recounts the event in his Life of Andrea del Sarto (see Anthology), also celebrated it in a fresco in Palazzo Vecchio, in the so-called Sala di Leone X, described and explained in his Ragionamenti. In the painting Vasari portrays the arrival of the papal cortege amidst the crowds in Piazza della Signoria, while the trumpeters and the pipers played from the windows of Palazzo Vecchio and the bombardiers fired blanks from the artillery in front of the church of San Pier Scheraggio (situated where the Uffizi was later built).
Shown in front of the Palazzo are Michelangelo’s David and the Judith and Holofernes by Donatello, set up here during the Republican period.
Among the bystanders of the cortege are numerous portraits: in particular, in the penultimate row on the left we can recognise the intellectuals Pietro Bembo, Ludovico Ariosto and Pietro Aretino (the three on the left); following towards the right are Lorenzo de’ Medici with the red beret and Giovanni delle Bande Nere shown in profile; in the group of cardinals immediately behind are Giulio de’ Medici (third from the left), Bernardo Dovizi da Bibbiena, Innocenzo Cybo and Lorenzo Pucci (from left to right), all four invested with the ecclesiastical purple by Leo X himself.
In Florence Leo X took up his abode in the convent of Santa Maria Novella, in the apartment of honour traditionally destined to Popes sojourning in the city. For the occasion, the rooms were renovated by Baccio d’Agnolo.
Subsequently, the Pope chose to move to Palazzo Medici in Via Larga.
In order to accommodate his uncle the Pope in a fitting manner, Lorenzo di Piero - who had been in charge of the government of the city since August 1513 and appointed Captain of the Florentine Republic since 23 May - left his own apartment on the first floor overlooking Via de’ Gori and moved to the ground floor.
Thus Leo X was lodged in great comfort on the first floor, disposing of the south and west wings, which were directly connected by a door specially opened for the purpose. From then on this door connected the chamber of Lorenzo with the large chamber of his mother Alfonsina Orsini, who had returned to Florence on 4 June and had taken up residence in the rooms overlooking the garden, where she had lived with her husband Piero il Fatuo before their banishment.
Along with Leo X, the cardinals Giulio de’ Medici and Innocenzo Cybo also established themselves in Palazzo Medici, being accommodated on the ground floor, one in the “large ground floor chamber” and the other in that next to the entrance. Giuliano di Lorenzo, the Pope’s brother and appointed by the latter as Captain General of the church, went to live on the first floor in the rooms to the north annexed with the Medici residence, and linked with the apartment occupied by Leo X by another door specially opened for the purpose.
Leo X did not remain at length, and soon left for Bologna where he met Francis I King of France. On the return journey, the Pope stopped again in his native city from 22 December of 1515 to 19 February 1516.
This time the Pope dwelt for the duration of his visit in the apartment that had for centuries been destined to the Popes in the convent of Santa Maria Novella, the rooms of which had been specially redecorated and furnished. The private chapel still remains, which on this occasion was embellished with the wall frescoes by Pontormo, Veronica and the Annunciation by Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio, and a ceiling adorned with grotesque motifs and the coat of arms of Leo X by Andrea di Cosimo Feltrini.
It was during this visit that Leo X launched his programme of artistic patronage in Florence, which was developed in the following years through the collaboration of other members of the family, in particular his cousin Giulio.
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