San Lorenzo is the parish church and burial place of the Medici and is filled with art commissioned by them. As with the Capelle Medicee, it is a monument to the family’s artistic patronage.
A sacred site. San Lorenzo was rebuilt by Filippo Brunelleschi 1425-46, on the site of one of the city’s oldest churches. Its rough-hewn ochre exterior was to have been covered with a façade by Michelangelo. This was never added, but a model is in Casa Buonarotti. The most bizzare piece of art here is the statue of Anna Maria Luisa, the last of the Medici dynasty, found – like a displaced Limoges porcelain figure – outside of the church. The church, with its pietra serena (grey sand-stone) columns, is cool and airy. The bronze pulpits (c1460) depicting the Resurrection and scenes from the life of Christ are Donatello’s last work. Bronzino’s fresco (facing the altar, left) of the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence (1569) is an absorbing Mannerist study of the human body in various contortions. Inside Sagrestia Vecchia (Old Sacristy, 1421) are eight tondi (circular reliefs) by Donatello depicting the evangelists and scenes from the life of St. John.
Biblioteca Laurenziana. The Laurentian Library (temporarily closed at time of writing) houses the Medici’s collection of manuscripts (not on display). This extraordinary example of Mannerist architecture by Michelangelo is left of the church, up a curvaceous pietra serena staircase via the cloisters
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