Title page for ETD etd-04212011-101531

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Kain, Arrie Ann
URN etd-04212011-101531
Title Un Bel Composto: The Unification of the Visual Arts at the Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Art
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Zucker, Mark J. Committee Chair
Mauck, Marchita B. Committee Member
Parker, Roderick A. Committee Member
  • San Lorenzo
  • Medici
  • dynastic patronage
  • Brunelleschi
  • Donatello
  • Florence
  • Italian Renaissance architecture
Date of Defense 2011-04-13
Availability unrestricted
In Florence’s prestigious district of Lion d’Oro, the Basilica of San Lorenzo, like numerous other medieval churches, began a significant expansion project during the first quarter of the Quattrocento. As a necessary means to raise capital and offset the enormous costs associated with the renovations, new chapels were attached to the main body of existing structures and privately endowed by established families; moreover, such projects allowed them to celebrate their status, flex their political muscle and extol their family’s patron saints. The Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo, for the burgeoning Medici, was an opportunity to construct their dynastic pantheon, setting the standard for future Renaissance building enterprises. Designed and built between the years 1417 and 1428, the structure served dual roles as both a sacristy and a family mausoleum. Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici, the original patron, followed by his heirs, Cosimo and Lorenzo de’ Medici, assembled the most prominent Florentine artists to design, furnish and ornament the structure with works of art in the name of their ascending political domination. This thesis represents an exploration of how each element of the Old Sacristy—the architecture, sculpture and painting—combines symbiotically with every other element in the Sacristy, iconographically as well as stylistically, to create un bel composto.
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