(b. ca. 1535, ?, d. 1592, Firenze)

Baths at Pozzuoli

Oil on slate, 117 x 100 cm
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.

Girolamo Macchietti's contribution to the decoration of the Studiolo in the Palazzo Vecchio included the Baths at Pozzuoli. In the Studiolo, he was assigned a subject from daily life, to which his only possible addition appears to be the architectural setting, a severe Tuscan order. One can hardly expect that these hot-spring baths, not far from Naples, were set in architecture of such grandeur, and most likely Macchietti had never seen them. He could, however, have studied and sketched in the Florentine public bath, as did Leonardo and Michelangelo, and the resemblances between the youth reclining on the steps and the seated figure having his leg toweled and their counterparts in Michelangelo's Battle of Cascina) are due not to imitation but to the fact that such poses could be seen daily in any public bath.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.