Little heads up everyone !! I’m doing a semester abroad in Florence, so the articles of the next four months are probably going to be about Florence AND are going to be IN ENGLISH ! It is highly probable that all my articles are going to be in English from now on 🙂 As you will understand by reading this article, Orsanmichele is a building that – I believe – is very representative of the city of Florence ! Let me know if you guys want to here more about Florence from a purely touristic point of view ! I had to write this for a school paper so the format is very academic.  in the 1240s, by the corporation of merchants, to store wheat by 1284. It was then destroyed by a fire in 1304, and rebuilt in 1337 in its actual structure.  between the years 1352 and 1360. First of all, the structure of the tabernacle is interesting for it recalls that of a Church. A three-part structure, of which the main and central one is a vault overlooked by a dome. This choice is not innocuous, since sanctuaries dedicated to the Virgin Mary are often linked to cupolas, and the tabernacle contains Bernado Daddi’s tryptic panel Madonna and Child with Angels (c. 1346/7). The architectural style is typically flamboyant Gothic, tied by the European impulse of Gothicism architecture as mentioned previously. The decorative elements include animals, minerals, plants, implements, natural phenomenon… for example, seashells are used along with stars, in the center of the vault. These elements are direct references to the Virgin Mary: the shell is the symbol of the Immaculate Conception – and extensively a symbol of birth in general –, just like the snail (present on the friezes) is a reference to the same idea of virginity (folk wisdom considered that snails came from mud and not from procreation). Various other elements are either Christic references or references to the Virgin Mary. It also contains sculpted elements (framed by the seashells) which depict various moments of the life of Mary. It is interesting to consider the actual placement of the tabernacle according to where the entry now stands. Indeed, the entry to Orsanmichele is on the left-hand side (when facing the presbytery). Thus, the first thing that the spectator sees is the altar and not the tabernacle. However, the grandiose aspect of the latter, and its imposing architecture, immediately attracts the eye towards it. However, the tabernacle was conceived as to receive outdoor lightning since it was conceived when the Church was still an open market place and the walls had not been sealed. Now that it stands in a closed space, the tabernacle can seem a little out of place, especially considering that it stands next to the Altar which is much smaller.
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- Richard Turner, A. Renaissance Florence, The Invention of a New Art. Perspectives Prentice Hall, Inc., 1997.