VASARI, Giorgio
(b. 1511, Arezzo, d. 1574, Firenze)

View of the Studiolo

Oil on panel and slate
Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

The Studiolo is a tiny chamber in the Palazzo dei Priori (Palazzo Vecchio), accessible by a hidden spiral staircase. It was dedicated to the geological, mineralogical and alchemical interest of Francesco I de' Medici, son and successor of Cosimo I. Its walls are lined with two tiers of oil paintings on slate or panel that act as doors for cupboards containing Francesco's scientific books, specimens, and instruments. Two doors, not distinguished in any way from the cupboard doors, cover the only windows: Francesco preferred to work by candlelight.

The intimate scale of the project allowed Vasari and his pupils to develop their imaginative abilities, technical skill, and jewel-like delicacy of colour. Eight sculptors made the bronze statuettes, and the paintings were by twenty-four artists. This precious chamber is the only sixteenth-century room in Europe to survive with its oil paintings intact.