During my time in Florence, I was lucky to be able to visit many of the wonderful and enlightening institutions of that venerable city. Our class spent several days a week touring museums, government institutions, private libraries and archives as well as various streets, churches and palazzos. We went to all the major places (The Uffizi, Bargello, Santa Croce, Pitti Palace, Santa Maria Novella) as well as lesser known locations (Santa Maria del Carmine, the Laurentian Library). We were granted insider access not only to prints and drawings at the Uffizi, but also to the City Archives and Conservation Lab. This unprecedented experience changed the way I look not only at art, but also at the preservation, curation and sheer scope of Renaissance art in Italy. During these visits, thoughts began forming in my head about the themes present in the art and architecture we were seeing on a constant basis. I started to think about the strong influence Humanism had on Renaissance Florentines, and how, if the Baptistry door panel competition was the “inception of Renaissance sculpture” (Holmes, 207) then in a sense, it was also the event that launched the ride of Humanism and such principles into the world.

The advent of Humanism has long been studied, but this important aspect of Renaissance art is not always considered in it’s scholarship. The ideals of Humanism that modern scholars often take for granted as being acceptable have lost the rogue newness, the shock value that they contained during the 14th to 16th centuries. The objects that I selected are famous around the world, but the ideas and principles that are contained within them are often lost to an overwhelming audience that isn’t aware of the background of their beauty. The more time I spent in Florence, the more I felt this connection to Humanism was often overlooked. Renaissance Humanism was an educational program that evolved from the recuperation of ancient culture and offered a distinctive conception of humanity and its relationship to the world. Humanism initially flourished most vigorously in the republic of Florence. The political elite, the Medici’s, discovered that by commissioning art that referenced antiquity they could support claims to status, legitimacy, and sovereignty (Partridge, 2).

It is these overlooked and forgotten aspects of these famous pieces that I would like to highlight in this collection of objects, to complete my final project for Florentine Art and Culture. I plan to explore the concepts of Faith, Beauty, Reason, Patronage and Science through the lens of the Renaissance. My goal is to remind viewers of these links to a past that should not be forgotten. Through careful research into the past of Humanism and the lives of these artists, I hope to recreate the ideas and excitement that they felt, hundreds of years ago, before “Renaissance” had been coined and their names skyrocketed into the annals of art history and pop culture.