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This is the final programme in the Third Level Art Course, A352, "Art in Italy 1480-1580". In the second television programme we saw how bronze statuettes are 'private' sculptures and now..., in this film, we look at a different category of Sculpture; works made for public display in the centre of Florence. Dr. Charles Avery, Deputy Keeper of Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum draws on contemporary sources to show the political significance of such well known works as Michelangelo's David and Cellini's Perseus. Sculptors were utterly dependant on patronage and what we now see of Renaissance 'public sculpture' results from political and artistic conflict; artist rivalling artist and Medici power against Florentine Republicanism. The statues in the Piazza were not put there merely as beautiful objects. To the sixteenth century spectator they contained symbolic meanings. Some were simply read as political propaganda while others obviously stressed the benevolent and elevated status of the Medici rulers.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: A352, Art in Italy 1480-1580
Item code: A352; 11
First transmission date: 1979
Published: 1979
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:22:53
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Producer: Nick Levinson
Contributor: Charles Avery
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Piazza della Signoria; Sculpture
Footage description: The programme opens with shots of a studio model of the piazza della Signoria in Florence. Over a 16th century map of the city Charles Avery, Deputy Keeper of Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum, explains the importance of the piazza. Film of the piazza as it is today, the shots of a painting depicting the execution of Savonarola in the piazza. In voice over Avery describes the democratic government practised in early 16th century Florence. Standing next to the studio model of the piazza. Avery shows the location of Donaiello's Judith and Holophernes. He gives the history of the sculpture and explains its political importance to the Republic. Film of the statue in Florence over which a description of the work by Vasari is read. Shots of a woodcut of 1583 showing all the sculpture then present in the piazza, then a similar view in a stage set design of 1569. Also shot of the entrance to the piazza as it is today. Avery describes the Republic's commissioning of Michelanaelo's David and uses the studio model to show how it was eventually sited in the piazza. Film of the copy of Michelangelo's original that now stands in the square, with Vasari's comments on the work in voice-over. Using the studio model Avery describes the political wranglings that led eventually to Bandinelli producing his Hercules and Cacus. He describes the hostile reception the work received. Over film of this work in the piazza criticisms of it by Vasari and Cellini are read. Using the studio model Avery indicates the location in the piazza of Cellini's Perseus and Medusa. Cellini's description of his work on this sculpture is quoted over shots of his bronze preparatory model. Shots of V and A's Head of Medusa that Cellini experimented with. Film of the finished work standing in the piazza. Avery assesses it in voice-over. With the studio model Avery describes the competition held in 1560 to provide the sculpture for the piazza fountain. He shows where Ammanati's fountain is located. Film of the fountain over which Avery comments on the political function this work served. A variety of sculpture is seen at a distance, then Giambolgna's Rape of a Sabine is examined in detail. Avery describes the technical difficulties involved in producing this complex sculpture. Film of the one remaining work in the piazza to be considered: Giambologna's statue of Cosimo I. Avery assesses this piece. The programme ends with Gafurri's depiction of the piazza in gold and precious stones.
Production number: FOUA040X
Videofinder number: 81703
Available to public: no