Everyone knows by now that Florence is the capital of humanism and the cradle of the Renaissance. However, many visitors still ignore the fact that this city is also the birthplace of the first queer communities of modern Europe! Renowned and openly gay artists like Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Benvenuto Cellini lived and worked in Florence, turning their city into a haven of freedom and artistic expression that attracted many gay writers and artists from all over Italy.
In this passionate tour, we want to reveal the queerest works of humanist art and the story behind the creation of the great masterpieces that gave rise to what we may describe as the very first gay and lesbian liberation in world history!
We will set off to discover one of the greatest masters of Renaissance art and an exceptional Florentine, Michelangelo Buonarroti, at the Accademia Gallery, where we will talk about the gay passions and torments of the greatest sculptor in Western civilization and see his Florentine masterpiece, the gigantic David.
The city that Michelangelo loved and from which he learned the art of sculpting marble was also the cradle of tolerance and open-mindedness. Thanks to the patronage of Lorenzo de’ Medici and his grandfather, the enlightened Cosimo the Elder, Florence had already established itself as a “mecca for sodomites” (as the Medici enemies used to describe the town), in a country that was already well known for its homosexual tendencies. Despite the numerous attempts to remedy it, the authorities were unable to curb the “Florentine vice“, also because the Neoplatonic culture promoted by the circle of humanist scholars gathered around Lorenzo the Magnificent had revived the homoerotic aspects of ancient art and turned them into a “philosophy of love and purity”, almost like a new religion! Michelangelo was born and raised within this cultural atmosphere and enjoyed the special protection of the Medici who not only gave him special attention, but also let him live in their own house!
After the Accademia, we will then visit one of the most evocative and least frequented museums in the city, the Bargello National Museum, where Donatello’s homoerotic works of art are kept. As a matter of fact, Michelangelo had not been the first to enjoy a special privilege in the Medici house. Lorenzo’s grandfather, Cosimo, had paid the same honors to the first father of the Florentine Renaissance, Donatello, who, also gay, was reputed to be the pioneer of the rebirth of the male nude in art and also an extraordinary workshop master, who loved to keep the handsomest assistants and apprentices in the city! Here we will admire his celebrated and evocative bronze David, as well as other works of his that will shed new light on Donatello’s idea on Greek statuary, love and Renaissance homosexual culture.
The legacy of the two great masters of this “Queer Renaissance” was collected and taken to the utmost extremes by another Florentine, a reckless and unrepentant “sodomite”, the famous goldsmith and sculptor Benvenuto Cellini, whose works are also located at the Bargello Museum. Amidst half-naked heroes (think of the gorgeous bronze statue of Perseus on Piazza della Signoria!), public brawls fought to defend the honor of his lovers and artistic creations that celebrated homosexuality, Cellini left us indisputable evidence of the supremacy of gay love in the art and culture of pre-modern Italy! We will admire his works, such as the very ambiguous Ganymede and the Eagle, and talk about his way of looking at homosexual art as a supreme form of creation!
Finally, we will take you to discover the areas where the gay and lesbian community of the Renaissance lived, met and thrived in order to understand how Florence’s art, history and queer society were not an isolated phenomenon or a “subculture”, but the roots of Europe’s LGBTQ+ pride!
WHAT WE WILL DO TOGETHER:
- We will visit the Accademia Gallery and the Bargello National Museum focusing our attention on Michelangelo, Donatello and Benvenuto Cellini (and their contemporaries) to understand how the first form of LGBTQ+ identity of Western culture was born.
- We will see Michelangelo’s David and the Prisoners, as well as his lesser known sculptures such as the Drunken Bacchus and the David/Apollo.
- We will discover Donatello’s early sculptures, including the magnificent bronze David, and you will understand how Donatello had already understood what it meant to be “gender-fluid”.
- We will admire the marble works of Benvenuto Cellini and you will learn the story of this irreverent gay artist who can be counted among the first activists of the gay movement.
- We will show you the places and the streets where the “sodomites” of fifteenth-century Florence met and… had a hell of a time!
IMPORTANT: The tour is private! Choose the most convenient time and day.
TIMETABLES: The tour is available from Wednesday to Sunday from 8:30 to 13:00.
ACCESS: The price of the tour does not include the entrance fee to the museum. Tickets are always charged to the clients. We will make the reservations for you in order to speed up the admission procedures and avoid long lines at the entrance!
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