(b. ca. 1565, Firenze, d. 1648, Firenze)

Exterior view

begun 1604
Cappella dei Principi, San Lorenzo, Florence

Grand Duke Ferdinando I de' Medici's ambitions were focused on the lavish design of a monumental chapel-museum, with a secular appearance, which served to commemorate and celebrate all the princes of the Medici dynasty. It was to be erected behind the chancel of the church of San Lorenzo, to be the majestic conclusion of a temple that was identified with the lives of the Medici House. It was envisaged that the mausoleum - later called the Cappella dei Principi - was to have its inside walls entirely encrusted in precious marble.

After a competition among the most distinguished Florentine artists, the grand duke's stepbrother Giovanni de' Medici, a soldier and dilettante-architect, together with his collaborator Alessandro Pieroni, and Matteo Nigetti prepared the model which was revised by Bernardo Buontalenti (1603-04). The latter was in charge of the building until his death in 1608, when Nigetti continued for the next forty years. In spite of such activity the chapel remained a torso for a long time to come, it yet epitomizes Medici ambition of the early seventeenth century.

The photo shows the exterior which is rather sober and dry in detail. The large drum and dome do not seem to tally with their substructure.

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