Paatz on Orsanmichele

Translation: Katherine Dau

Source: Paatz, Walter and Elisabeth. Die Kirchen von Florenz: Ein kunstgeschichtliches Handbuch. Vol IV: M-P. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1952. 480-558.

Location: Via Calzaioli between Nr. 25 R. and Nr. 27 R.

Acknowledgement: Special thanks to Professor Paul Youngman for all of his help in translating this work.

Table of Contents



Special Literature

Giuseppe Castellazzi, Il Palazzo detto di Or San Michele, isuoi tempi ed il progetto del suo restauro, Firenze-Roma, 1883. Abbreviated: Castellazzi, Or S. Michele. Pietro Franceschini, L’Oratorio di S. Michele in Orto in Firenze, Firenze 1892. Abbreviated: Franceschini, Or S. Michele. Girolamo Poggi, Or S. Michele, 1895. Hermann Riegel, Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte Italiens, 1898, 63 ff. La Sora, La Compagnia di Or San Michele, 1902.


The name Orsanmichele is explained differently. Presumably it is a popular variation of the name of the previously located church, “Saint Michael in Orto”, of which it is said, that this church lay in gardens; this name was officially recorded in 1239 (1) . Another meaning can be found in the accompanying word “Or,” a reference to the granary (Latin horreum), that replaced the older church (2), yet this conjecture is refuted by the appearance of the word “Orto” in 1239, so before the foundation of the granary.

Building History

A small convent with a church named S. Michaelis in Orto was situated on the site of Orsanmichele; it was designated in 895 as a long-standing endowment of Abbot Peter of S. Silvestro in Nonantola (3) and was established perhaps soon after the foundation of the mother monastery (752), as it was consecrated with the cult of the Lombard national saint (4). The convent remained in the possession of the famous northern Italian Abbot as long as it existed (5). It appears to have had a certain significance in Florentine cultural life during the 9th century (6). In 1046 S. Michele in Orto operated under the administration of a provost (7); The convent possibly no longer existed. In the year 1239 the church was apparently destroyed in a family feud, namely through the fault of Mundaldus Ranutius and other Florentine citizens (8).

The city administration seized the new space in the middle of the city in order to renovate a public square (9).

A few decades later, in February 1285, they allowed, in that very space, an open hall for the grain market to be put on (10). This building is supposed to have been constructed by Arnolfo di Cambio (11) and was already in use (12). On one of its columns, a Madonna image had been mounted. In 1292 this began to heal a plague in a miraculous way; since then the hall became one of the most important places of worship/cult sites of the city and the seat of a powerful confraternity, that organized regular hymns in honor of the portrait of mercy, and therefore was named “Laudesi” (13). Still, the hall also served through its original secular purpose for a few more decades. In the year 1304, it fell victim, with its whole district, to fire which Ser Neri Abati hat created in the course of a family feud (14). In 1307 they began the construction of the replacement (15). Still unfinished in 1308, this second hall appeared to be not very solidly advised (16). Already in 1321 it threatened to collapse and needed to be repaired (17). The same repeated once again in 1332 (18). Potentially the flood of 1333, during which the water stood two cubits high in the hall (19), accelerated the deterioration of the building once again. In any case, in 1336 the government found in due form, that the hall, because of its small size, could not preserve the volume of stored grain well, and furthermore the hall downright constituted an eyesore in the cityscape; it probably should, as they determined, develop a new hall in its place, and a more proper palace to be sure, big enough to store the grain better and to provide the cult of the miraculous Madonna image a worthy setting, beautiful enough to do honor to the city; at once a commission was started in order to put the new building into operation (20). On July 29th of the following year ceremonial laying of the foundation stone took place in the presence of all of the public authorities; it was determined at once, that over the yet to be created mercy-painting –“Oratorium,” two floors with arched ceilings would be built as granaries, and two years later, that the guilds (as contributors to the city government) would have put up their patron saints on the new palace, in such a way that each column of the hall would be adorned with a saint (21). That magnificent landmark of the Florentine community, that arose here in the decades of work after that and always is admired as one of the most perfect monuments of Florentine Gothic and Renaissance, had already been planned with full awareness of its complete scope.

Who provided the design for the new building and thereby initiated a new age in the development of the Florentine Gothic, is unknown. The painter Taddeo Gaddi, to whom Vasari attributes this merit, comes into consideration (22), not Andrea Orcagna (23). Futhermore, Neri di Fioravanti, Benci di Cione, and before all Francesco Talenti, whose later buildings and school of buildings, the cathedral and the Loggia de’Lanzi, yield a logical development of style from Orsanmichele, come into question (24). The building owner was as representative of the city government guild of the silk weavers (25).

The structure must have been funded rather quickly in the first year. Already beginning in 1339, parts of more than ten columns stood, and the rest should have followed immediately (26). – In the fall of that year and in the year 1342, the government allocated additional funds for the building (27). In 1343 it founded a St. Anne Cult dedicated to Orsanmichele in order to hold the day of the eviction of the Duke of Athens in solemn memory. At the time one apparently decided, to whom to give the begun market hall floor of the new structure the character of a church to the greatest extent (28). Soon after, the work appears to have become gradually slower and finally came to a halt during the plague of 1348. “The columns stand finished, adorned with their frescos, the scaffolding for the vault was constructed, and if the money to complete the building isn’t approved, all that has been completed will of necessity deteriorate,” told vividly and imploringly by the silk guild on 19. April 1350 as they sought the support of the city government (29).

It must have really stimulated the operation again. Shortly thereafter, the order of an expensive tabernacle for the miracle-working Madonna image was made; it indicates, that they surely reckoned with an early completion of the church, and already in April 1357 the vault appeared to be finished (30).

Around the same time (1361), the government transferred the grain market away from the Piazza di Orsanmichele, in order to ensure a dignified surrounding for the nearly finished Tabernacle (31). In doing so, a broader, more significant step in the gradual conquest of the building for the cult was done.

The complete obliteration of all traces of the originally intended, secular purpose was decided in 1366, while the construction of the upper, also to the grain-storage-intended rooms under the direction of Benci di Cione proceeded slowly (32). At that time the superintendents agreed to lattice the arcade of the bottom floor through tracery and therefore to transform the open hall into a closed church (33). In the same year, the care of the altar service was taken from the monastic order, who dealt with it in a predetermined, regular cycle, and appointed a specially assigned a sacristan to carry out this task (34). On 2. April 1367 (after the others on 11. April 1366) two traceries were begun, and they appointed Simone di Francesco Talenti to complete these test pieces he had begun, but then was ordered to await further instructions from the building authority (35). Any talk of a continuation of work came again only in 1378 and 1380. Simone di Francesco Talenti pops up again as the senior architect; Antonio di Francesco, Giovanni di Buonafede, Leonardo Masi, Matteo di Cione, and Lorenzo di Filippo were named as executive, and apparently clumsy stone masons who were repeatedly forced to provide compensation for botched work (36). In 1380 the insertion of the tracery in the arcade was finally able to arrive, because in this year the talk is of the relocation of the windows (37). – At that time/then it was decided thus probably even already, to close the gothic tracery in the arcade with walls (38). Still, the middle opening remained open in the middle arcade of the two long sides and preserved in this — until the year 1770 (39).

In 1380 the completion of the construction of the upper floors of the palace was approaching. At that time marble was acquired, probably for the State windows (40), and worked into the roof (41). The acceleration of work shortly before 1380 would like to related to, that in 1379 the Laudesi-Brotherhod delegated the construction management role to the silk guild (42).

Around 1380, the church was therefore essentially as it is preserved today, but there remained some detail work to complete. In 1384 a tenth of the revenue of the brotherhood was specified for the continuation of construction; 1397 new donations (43). In 1404 the cornice of the palace was drafted (44). In 1408 and 1410, Niccolò di Piero Lamberti completed the perhaps already earlier begun work on the two main doors; his stake is no only clearly defined (45).

In 1415 a collegiate church was established in the church (46). Around 1480 it was temporarily secularized (47). It never suffered any serious changes. In 1569 the upper floor of the palace was configured as a state archive (48) and was connected with the opposite administrative building of the wool weavers’ guild through an overpass over the street, allegedly by Bernardo Bountalenti. In 1628 the right, southern main door of the façade was bricked over (49). In 1770 they were bricked over in the mean time in the lower part of the central openings in the middle arcades of both sides; Concurrently, a sacristy was installed in the left, northern, choir (50). In 1821 the tympanum under the connecting arch was removed, and in 1858 again restored (51). In 1852 ff. the decorative parts of the arcade were replaced to a large extent (52). In 1901 a new Restoration took place (53). In 1931 ff. the flooring in the two front bays of the Oratorium, that later had been raised to a higher level than the last (choir) bay, was changed back into its original condition, and the sacristy addition was removed.

Reconstruction of Lost Building Elements

Church and Cloister of S. Michaelis in Orto.

About the Carolingian cloister building of the 8th or 9th century it is only known, that it included a workshop for wool weavers (54). The church had become small, since the convent consisted of only a few nuns (In 885 there were 6 sisters).

The First Granary; 1285, by Arnolfo di Cambio (?).

More delicate natural stone building with ten columns (55). – The column with the famous miraculous image (see under page 499 “The Miraculous Image and Its Tabernacle”) was housed in a small wooden structure already in 1294, so that the devout viewers could shelter (it) against the evening air (56). Whether a remnant of this column still exists (in the current miraculous image tabernacle) remains to be seen; to that end, see page 499 f.

The Second Granary; 1308 ff.

It was significantly smaller than the modern building (57) and had thin, poorly engineered brick piers (58). The miraculous image [hung] on one of the columns; whether a remnant of this column was preserved (in the current miraculous image tabernacle) remains to be seen; to this end, see page 499 f.

Building Description

The Basic Concept

Building Record Drawings from Giorgio Vasari JD, Uffizien, Nr. 4784 und 6158-71. — Floorplan, vertical plan, cutaway drawings, details, etc. by Rohault de Fleury, La Toscane au moyenâge, I, 1870, and by Mazzanti-Del Lungo, Raccolta delle migliori fabbriche etc. 1876, LXXXVI ff. (59).

Type The building concept of Orsanmichele is a rarity; in it the architectural types of the market hall, the granary, and the confraternity oratory are combined into one entity, which could come about only through the concurrence of entirely special, historical circumstances (60). The ground floor — begun as a market hall — is a vaulted colonnade; it was originally open and after a change in plans was converted into a closed church interior through the walling-up of the outer arcades (61). Above rises two high upper floors erected as granaries (62). The originally intended dichotomy between the open colonnade and the above ambitious tower-house-like “apartment building” of the storage floors must have appeared very strange.

Mechanics The whole building is from gray-yellow sandstone (Macigno); only the colonettes of the windows of the upper floors are of white marble. The mechanics of the ashlar rectangular building matured here into a technical achievement that remained unrivaled in Florence during the gothic era (63). Among other things, the stone masons, with visible pleasure at the performing mastery of their ability here, have invented ingenious mechanisms like for example that chute in the northwestern corner pier, though which the grain of the storage facility above could be poured into the market hall below very easily (63a).


Only the part of the building that the church comprises — the ground floor — is described here.

Floor Plan Rectangular, facing from West to East. — Structure. Its parts emerged in four different building periods based on four different plans:

The Structural Framework originates from the first building phase, that wanted to propose an open market hall (1337-57). It stems from a round-arched column balustrade of massive weight (See Note 71). On the four corners stand four corner piers, between them six intermediate piers, and on the narrow sides of the building (on the west and east) each on the long side, each two. The intermediate piers are rectangular, their edges beveled. The corner piers consist of two half-columns, rectangular, slightly-longer, correspondingly formed half-columns; the two west ones are longer than the two east ones. The rounded arches over the piers have beveled edges (See Note 71).

Stonework; around 1366-80 and subsequently applied in the column balustrade; principle work of Simone di Francesco Talenti – the richest stonework composition of the Florentine Trecento, opulently late gothic (64).

Each single arcade is organized in the following way. In them rise two narrow pillars out of bundled together colonettes, and on the flat side of the bordering piers there are corresponding half posts. Through which three openings are divided; the middle served as the entrance originally, and the two outside ones were obstructed, and embellished through thin stone barriers with shallow relief, decorated band work (65). Above the strikingly naturalistic post-capitals, that are decorated with leaves and rose-like blossoms, the original tracery arises as filling of the large rounded arch of the arcade. From each capital to the next spans a half-circle arch; these arches cross one and other and create pointed arches through them, for each, one or the other, of the above described three openings; in each pointed arch a rounded arch, in each rounded arch, a multifoil arch. In the six spandrels, that are there, bigger and smaller rosettes are used and framed with branch work and foliage.

The Fillings. Light brick walls close the three openings in each large arcade between the tracery of Simone Talenti. The two side openings have been closed since 1380, the middle since 1770 (66).

The Door. The filling of the two arcades on the west side of the church is built to correspond to the filling of the other arcades (see above), probably also done according to the plan of Simone di Francesco Talenti. Yet the (somewhat broad) space contains in each here, between the two posts, a stately late-gothic ashlar entrance, seemingly designed by Niccolo di Piero Lamberti (1408/10). Above the door opening there is an architrave, and above that there is an arch, and above that the gothic ornamental gable of complicated flamboyant-late gothic form (67).

System. A column hall of two aisles and three bays, bordered on the outside by the above described round colonnade and filling wall (68). In the central axis exists two free piers, square with polygonal corner elements. Corresponding with them — constructed analogously – as copies of the doublewide outer piers are four quarter-piers in the four corners, two half-piers on each long side, and one half-pier on each small side of the hall. The bays are nearly square. Above each spans a cross ribbed vault; the transverse arches are as wide as the pier sides, and flat and smooth, the ribbings of the column pilasters are correspondingly polygonal; the transverse builds semicircular arches, that the ribbings segment. Between the otherwise elongated corner piers of the entrance wall, in which there are spiral stairs which lead to the upper level, and behind the door there two niches with barrel vaults.

Meaning Orsanmichele is one of the more perfect creations of the Florentine Trecento architecture and evolutionarily highly important: in this school of architecture the most important efforts of the first Gothic century of Florentine architecture were summarized and interpreted with ingenious creativity, that from the old ideas grew a new idea of beauty. The interior design was the last fulfillment of these efforts toward hall-like expanse and calm, which was triggered by the architecture school of S. Maria Novella (69). Here the purest form of the hall form was reached. The hall was almost as wide as it was long (70). The two naves were very wide and not very tall. The well-proportioned quadrangle is the base form of every single bay. From this finely tuned harmony of all these motives, there is a harmony of space. This harmony is even more apparent, in that the construction form and elements with creative fantasy that matched the bays. Apparently with well calculated intentions, in the place of the gothic pointed arch, what appears is a rounded arch, and with it, in place of a form that points beyond itself, the form remains enclosed within itself (71). Above all however, the newly built pier-type for Orsanmichele serves as the new beauty ideal. Its form can be interpreted two ways: either as rectangular with service on the beveled corners. (see above) or as cross form with corner pilasters in the corners between atrophied cross arms; in this very clear dualism there is the possibility of interpreting them as a gothic as well as a pre-gothic schemata. In any case, this possibility unites in a highly perfect and convincing way, the gothic logic of the bunded limb piers of S. Maria Novella with the Italian simplicity of the square pillars of the Arnolfini Badia (72). The pier of Orsanmichele has at the same time a clear structure that exemplifies the pier of S. Trinita, that means a high, clearly-placed base and a high capital, whose rich acanthus band rings it, also connected to the corner pier. In the surfaces of these piers, gothic arch panel and hexagons are etched, very shallow and delicately (on each of the four sides of each panel and above them a hexagon); like on the building of Arnolfo and Giotto (73). These flat ornamental shapes emphasized subtly the harmony of well-proportioned flat surfaces, that emerged from the structure here. Despite all of this refinement, with all of its piers and arches and really all the forms in Orsanmichele, they still have a splendid gravity. Their impact unites with the calm harmony of the room into the overall effect of high monumentality and a very special tone.


Like the building concept, the décor of Orsanmichele is as important as the building concept. Outside and inside there is a series of masterworks of sculpture from the 14th to 16th centuries, among which are the best-preserved series of monumental statues in Florence. Inside there is also a fresco cycle and a series of stained glass – both from the era of about 1400.


The Décor of the Arcade The tracery from Simone di Francesco Talenti (c. 1366-80) is described above (p 487).

Statues On each of the above described tracery posts are two figurines, one inside, one outside, so that the structure is surrounded by a wide row of statues of apostles, prophets, and saints. Almost all were replaced around the middle of the 19th century; the few preserved originals were kept in the Museo Nazionale (Bargello) (74). They have a very idiosyncratic, tense, emotional style. It is possible that around 1366-80 they were chiseled by Simone di Francesco Talenti himself.

Reliefs In the wall filling of the arcade there are fifteen reliefs which were embedded later. Each represents a half figure—the twelve apostles, two evangelists (Luke and Mark) and a virtue (Veritas). They were initially intended for another purpose. They are ascribed to the Pisan Giovanni Balducci and his workshop and dated around 1336/38. Together with that, a relief of a prophet is embedded right from the group of the Quattro Coronati on the north wall, perhaps an early work of Nanni di Banco, in the beginning of the 15th century (76).

The Niche Statues

As a Whole. Soon after the beginning of the new building (1339), the silk guild suggested that the foremost guilds to the honor of the Madonna image, should decorate the pillars to the honor of their patron saint and should establish a ritual to these statues (77). The first guilds that decorated their posts with tabernacles and statues were the wool weavers, the silk weavers (1339/40), and the cloth dealers (end of 1340) (78). After a long period (1399), the guild of artists and apothecaries followed first with a Madonna (79). In 1401 the guild of judges and notaries decided to have their patron sculpted in stone (80). They delayed, but the execution, like the entire undertaking, they progressed slowly. In the following year (1402) the Laudesi-Brotherhood sped up the pace of things and they provided the promised honoring to their Madonna image. They had a niche made at their own expense, and having done that, a guild wanted to put there statue inside (81). Also, in 1402, the new congress of guilds developed new regulations for the decorating of niches with guild coats of arms and reliefs (81a). In 1403 the Judges and Notaries commissioned their patron saint (81). But the plan could only be carried out, with a new stronger admoniton of the implementation order. The government had to administer the old plan; on April 22, 1406 they determined, within ten years every guild will have to exhibit their patron saint, if they do not want to give up their niche (83). Finally, the work flowed. In the course of the net twenty years, all of the missing niches were decorated with statues and two of the existing older statues were replaced with more modern statues. The 1406 regulation manifested itself in Renaissance art for the first time wonderfully and programmatically at the hands of the first sculptors of Florence. The single remaining Trecento figure in that place had to be replaced by a modern statue in the early Cinquecento. Even the oldest figure in the new series was replaced in the late Cinquecento, so that there was no gothic tone to disturb the Renaissance harmony. One of the most beautiful Donatello statues (St. Ludwig) fell victim to politics and was replaced by a masterpiece by Verrocchio (83a).

Niches In summary, building records of the interesting niches by Mazzanti-Del Lungo, Raccolta delle fabbriche migliori etc. di Firenze, 1876, LXXXXI ff. (84).

West Façade

Northern Corner Pier. In the marble niche of banking guild there is a bronze statue of the Apostle Matthew, dated to 1420. Niche and figure were produced by Lorenzo Ghiberti with the help of Michelozzo and the stone masons Jacopo di Corso and Giovanni di Niccolò (85). The niche is an interesting example of the transitional style (86). The statue is the most important figure from the hand of Ghiberti. On the Tabernacle, there are two marble statues, Mary and the angel of the Annunciation, in the style of Michelozzo or of Piero di Niccolò Lamberti, around 1420/30; the head of Mary is presumably new (87).

Middle Pier Between the doors. Marble niche of the guild of weavers, around 1339/40 (88). Inside there is a bronze statue of St. Stephan by Lorenzo Ghiberti, 1427/28 (89). Southern Corner Pier. Marble niche of the guild of the blacksmiths; in the pediment, the half figure of the Savior; on the base, a relief representation of the St. Eligius, who shoes a horse. Inside, a marble statue of St. Eligius. Niche and figure by Nanni di Banco, around 1410/11 (90).

South Façade

Western Corner Pier. Marble niche of the Linen-weavers and peddlers guild, with the half figure relief of the Savior on the pediment and the relief Mark’s lion on the base; from the stone masons Perfetto di Giovanni and Albizzo di Pietro, 1411 (91). Inside a marble statue of the apostle Mark, an early masterpiece of Donatello, 1411/13 (92).

Second Pier. Marble niche of the furriers with the ascension of St. James and a relief of the beheading of the apostle on the base. In the niche, there is a marble statue of the apostle James. The niche and figure took shape in the circle of Niccolò di Pietro Lamberti and his soon Piero, around 1420 (93).

Third Pier. Marble niche of the physicians guild, inscription dates it to 1399 (94). Inside, a marble statue, enthroned Madonna with child, named “Madonna of the Rose”: Master unknown; around 1399 (95). Above the niche, there is a terracotta tondo; the enthroned Madonna, the symbol of the physician’s guild; by Luca della Robbia, around 1455/65 (96).

Eastern Corner Pier Marble niche of the Silk Weavers and Gold Smiths Guild; around 1339/40 (97). Inside a bronze statue, of John the Evangelist, a masterpiece of Baccio da Montelupo, 1515 (98). Above the tabernacle, a Tondo of glazed Terracotta with two putti and their “porta clausa”, the coat of arms of the silk guild; by Luca and Andrea della Robbia, around 1450/60 (?) (99).

East Façade

Southern Corner Pier. Marble niche of the Cloth Guild, produced by the stone mason Albizzo di Pietro, the painter-architect Giuliano d’Arrigo named Pesello (Mosaic) and the glass worker Bernardo di Stefano based on a design by an unknown artist, 1412-14 (100). Inside, a bronze statue of John the Baptist by Lorenzo Ghiberti; signed and dated 1414 (101).

Middle Pier. Marble niche, one of the oldest monuments of Renaissance architecture, made for the Guelf Party by Donatello, perhaps with the help of Michelozzo (?), 1418-1425 (102); The shell niche is framed by two spiraling fluted ionic columns and an arch enclosed in a tabernacle with to pilasters and a triangular pediment. In the pediment there is a three headed symbol of the trinity (or Prudentia ?), the emblem of the Guelf party (102a); on the architrave there are angel heads and a garland; in the spandrel, naked figures; on the pediment corners, two masks, between which the antique motif of two putti, that carry a wreath. Under this, there is a double frieze, possibly added by Verrocchio after 1463. In the niche, a bronze group shows doubting Thomas touching the side wound of Christ, the masterpiece of Andrea del Verrocchio, made for the merchant’s guild, that applied for the niche in 1463; 1465-1483 (103). Above it a tondo of glazed Terracotta with a lily, which is the coat of arms of the court, by Luca della Robbia, 1463 (104).

North Façade

Eastern Corner Pier. Marble niche of the guild of butchers, around 1401/20 (?), by a master under the direction of Donatello and of Nanni di Banco (107). Inside a marble statue, the apostle Peter, artist unknown, around 1410/20; perhaps by Donatello (108).

Second Pier. Marble niche of the shoemakers with savior relief on the pediment, probably by Nanni di Banco around 1412/14(?) (109). Inside, a marble statue of the apostle Phillip by Nanni di Banco, around 1412/14 (?) (110).

Third Pier. Marble niche of the masons, stone masons, carpenters, and sculptors, probably by Nanni di Banco, with savior-relief on the pediment and a relief representing working craftsmen (the mason is building a corner, the stone mason is drilling into the rounded column, the architect is rounding off a capital, and the sculptor is chiseling a statue) on the base, by Nanni di Banco. Inside, a marble group, the “Quattro Coronati,” that means the holy martyrs Kastor, Symphorian, Nikostratus, and Simplicius, by Nanni di Banco, around 1410/11 (?) (111). Above that, the coat of arms of the guild in glazed terracotta by Luca della Robbia, around 1455/60 (112).

Western Corner Pier. Marble niche of the armorers (113); in the pediment relief representation, half figure of God the father; on the pedestal, a relief with a dragon battle of St. George; both by Donatello. In the niche, a bronze statue of St. George; A copy of the marble original of Donatello, that was transferred into the Museo Nazionale in 1891; Original from around 1417 (114).


Statues in the arcade-tracery, in the style of Simone di Francesco Talenti, around 1366-80; see above page 491 and note 74.

The Paintings

History. Even before the vaults were brought in, a few frescos could be seen on the piers (115). But just after the end of the construction, it appeared that the painting began to be energetically continued. In 1387 a fresco arose on the door frame. In 1397 the government empowered the Laudesi-Brotherhood, and in the following three years, they slid certain sums of money to them for the decoration of the vaults and the walls (116). In 1403 the painters were working on this (117). The work appeared to stretch into 1408 (118). This oldest fresco cycle was not, as Vasari suggested, by Jacopo del Casentino (119), but rather by several masters of the traditional style, among which Niccolò die Pietro Gerini and Ambrogio di Baldese were named in the first incomplete but published documents (120).

The Decoration, like the statue series on the façade in the 15th and 16th centuries, had to be adjusted in line with High Renaissance taste. A few of the most important parts were covered with paintings and wood paneling (see under “Lost Construction”).

In 1770 they painted over the vault and a part of the piers (121). In 1864 one of the first vault surfaces was uncovered by Gaetano Bianchi (122); In 1893-95 Dario Chini completed that work (123). Since then, for the most part one can see the frescos, all be it a bit of an overpainted condition. Many are very damaged or entirely disappeared. In 1934/35 they got rid of the paintings that were carried out on the wood panels on the columns and on the sacristy-construction in the north east and they uncovered several places of more frescos.

System. A unified program underlies the decoration. The vault-caps, the transverse arch intrados, the flat decorative niches in the piers, and the wall space in the arcades held decorative figures, all of the other surfaces, especially the ribs and the front of the piers, were supposed to be enlivened with ornaments. The long, narrow pointed arch niches on the piers enticed them to affix standing holy figures; on the six-sided surfaces above them are recorded scenes from the legends of the these holy figures, because they did not want these under the feet of the figures in the predella way.

Because of the import of the objects must there must be an exhaustive description here; indeed at least the greatest figures on the vaults and the piers have to be listed. We begin with the vault, follow with the wall piers from the main entrance going from the right and end with the free piers in the middle of the oratory. Each letter (a, b, c, d) marks a different pier side.

Vault. In each cap, there is an existing frame of blue, gold stared background: patriarchs, ancestors of Jewish heritage, prophets, male and female saints. On the transverses arch over the portal, on every third row of standing and sitting figures, on each of the transverse arches over the arcade of the outer wall, each a row of enthroned saints, and on the rounded arches in the inside half figures in quatrefoils; the artist who carried this out, was closely affiliated with the circle of Spinelllo Artino, but also had a close connection to the painters associated with Giovanni dal Ponte und Bicci di Lorenzo. The cycle was built from 1397 to 1401 (124).

Wall Piers and Wall Filling The frescoes, when otherwise not noted, are by unknown painters around 1400.

Northwestern Corner Pier: without frescos; former door to the upper floor. – Wall piers between the doors: a) holy bishop b) St. Stephen c) St. Michael, dated 1387 (?), d) John the Baptists (?).

Southwestern Corner Pier: a) St. Dominic (?), b) St. Julian c) St. George

First Intermediate Pier of the South Wall: a) Evangelist b) St. Matthew (?), c) Evangelist, uncovered 1934/35

Second Interpiediet pier of the sout wall: a) St. Augustine enthroned, uncovered 1934/34 b) John the Evangelist c) St. Joseph (?), uncovered 1934/35.

Southeastern Corner pier: a) St. Lucy b) St. Verdiana (125), d) Fragment d) fragment

Wall filling of the first arcade of the east wall: In the left field, religions. In the rich tabernacle, in the style of Jacopo di Cione (?), uncovered 1934/35 (126).

Intermediate piers of the east wall: Fragment, partially uncovered in 1934/35.

Wall Filling of the second arcade of the east wall.* 1. Field: St. Francis, 2. Field: empty 3. Field: St. Dominic

Northeastern Corner Pier: a) empy b) female st c) female saint d) apostle (?), all newly uncovered in 1934/35.

First intermediate pier of the north wall: a) saint b) saint partially uncovered in 1934/35 c) empty

Wall filling of the second arcade of the north wall 1. Empty: the rest of painted marble incrustation

Second Intermediate Pier of the north wall: a) empty b) five saints c) empty

Free Piers

Western Pier: a) St. Nicholas, under scene of his legends; by Niccolò di Pietro Gerini, 1408/09 (127). b) the Holy Trinity, under the Pentecost; by Niccolò di Pietro Gerini, 1408/09 (128). c) proclamation, under birth of Christ; attributed to Giovanni dal Ponte, beginning of the 15th century (129). d) St. Martin, under offering of the gift; by Niccolò di Pietro Gerini, 1408/09 (130). Above these saints in a six-sides field: glorification of St. Mary Magdalene, by Andrea del Sarto, beginning of the 16th century (131). The relevant fields on the other side were also painted with scenes (no longer distinguishable).

Eastern Pier: a) St. Bartholomew, under his torture, above his glorification; around 1400? B) St. Lawrence, under his torture, above field indistinguishable; around 1400? C) the good theif on the cross; with inscription (132). D) St. Mary Magdalene; attributed to Giovanni dal Ponte, beginning of the 15th century (133).

The Stained Glass

History. Together with the frescos, a series of stained glass was carried out, that was intended to decorate above the arch field above the painted wall filling and above the doors of the wall arcade. Already in 1380 were payments were made for the leading (134). From 1394 to 1401 the heads of the brotherhood payed money toward the decorating of the frescoes and the stained glass. The stained glass panels were put up in the following ten years. They are among the most beautiful in Florence. Possibly, Agnolo Gaddi, Niccolòl di Pietro Gerini and Ambrogio Baldesi, who were the creators of parts of the frescos that were being worked on at the same time, were involved with providing designs for the stained glass. Besides these artists, also L. Monaco and perhaps Ghiberti (135). Program. Scenes from Maria’s life and the miracles of the Madonna, especially the miracle-working Madonna, whose attribution is not really possible (136), are represented in irregular form. In the two anterior bays in each wall-arcade, only the middle tracery-arch field is furnished with stained glass; in the third, backmost bay, that served as the choir for both main altars, each wall arcade has arch area tracery with stained glass. The smaller tracery fields above the already described large tracery arches, contain in every arcade a stained glass painting, and namely heads and ornaments.

West Side (Entrance Side).

First (Northern) Arcade: Angel (very much destroyed), before 1400. Second Arcade: Angel, around 1860.

South Side

First Arcade Offerings in the temple; in the style of Agnolo Gaddi, around 1385 (?) (137). Second Arcade: Assumption of the Virgin, by Agnolo Gaddi (?) around 1385 (?) (137). Third Arcade: Three wonders of the Madonna Orsanmichele (right on the inside of this, is the miracle-working Madonna, on the left the gallows scene, and on the left the tabernacle with the miracle-working Madonna and pilgrims); maybe after the design of Agnolo Gaddi, around 1390 (?) (138).

East Side

First Arcade: Two miracles of the Madonna (Salvation of the soul of a pious man and snow wonder of S. Maria Maggiore in Rome) and Rest on the Flight to Egypt; especially beautily work; the Rest on the Flight perhaps after the design of Agnolo Gaddi or of a related artist (139), the salvation of the soul perhaps after the design of Lorenzo Monaco; all three windows from around 1400/1410 (14). Second Arcade: three miracles of the Madonna (the right and the middle scenes very destroyed and partially restored, left healing of the sick); the left scene perhaps after the design of Lorenzo Monaco, executed by Niccolò della Magna (?), around 1400/10 (141).

North Side

First Arcade Three miracles of the Madonna (ship miracle, Bishop’s miracle, and Grotto miracle); the right and the middle scenes probably done by a miniature painter; beginning of the 15th Century (142). Second Arcade: A proclamation of Joachim; especially beautiful work, perhaps from the concept of Lorenzo Monaco, maybe from the circle that created the Ghiberti window in the cathedral (done by Niccolò della Magna?) around 1410/15 (143). Third arcade: Presentation of Mary, perhaps after a concept of a painter from the circle of Agnolo Gaddi, around 1375/80 (?) (144).

The Miracle-Working Madonna and its Tabernacle

In the southeastern (right rear) corner bay of the interior.

History. On a pier of the granary from 1285 there was a Madonna image; whether it was a fresco or a panel is uncertain (145). Varsari named its creator as Ugolino da Siena (146). In honor of the Madonna image, a confraternity was founded on August 10, 1292, that created itself after the example of the Laudesi-Brotherood in S. Maria Novella especially in the fact that they made it their mission to sing artistic hymns (147). Shortly before their founding, on July 3, 1292, the Marian image miraculously began to heal the sick (148). Therefore, the brotherhood of the them grew conveniently, although the Dominicans and the Franciscans, in the best interest of their own brotherhoods, made life difficult for the brotherhood (149). Regarding a small wooden structure on which the pier with the Madonna image was secured in 1294, see page 485 and Note 56.

Whether it survived the fire of 1304, or whether it was replaced at that time with a copy, or whether Ugolinio of Sienna just then delivered the Madonna image, is unknown (150). Copies of these two (?) oldest paintings are not verifiable (151).

While these points are still controversial, the opinion that was popularized in the 17th century prevails today, that the current miracle-working Madonna was neither the work of Ugolino nor the hypothetical panel of 1304, but rather a creation from the middle of the 14th century (152). One party considered it a creation of Orcagna (153), the other, the side that finally won out, consider it a work of Bernardo Daddi, who in 1347 verifiably painted a Madonna image for the brotherhood of Orsanmichele (154).

The Miracle-Working Image. Large panel: enthroned Madonna and child, adored by eight angels; by Bernardo Daddi; Masterpiece from his late period, 1347; restored 1938/40; well preserved (154).

The Tabernacle. Masterpiece of Andrea Orcagna, inscribed and dated 1359 (155). For the Madonna of Daddi, a sumptuous tabernacle was planned, as soon as the brotherhood overcame the legacy of the 1348 plague and had more means at their disposal (156). In 1349 the contract was granted to Orcagna (157). The work was apparently begun in 1352 (158). In 1360 the composition of the complicated structure was apparently still underway (159).

The Architecture (160). The square ciborium is made of white marble. Above a stepped-foundation (161) arises a quite high base floor, on each of the four corners there is a correspondingly high pier base; on the four walls there are large octagonal and small hexagonal decorative fields (alternating with each other), that are filled with reliefs. Above that is the main floor, an open structure with four corner piers, four of these carried round arches and a cross ribbed vault; it is sealed from behind through quite thick wall filling, on whose front side there is a miracle image and on whose backside there is a large relief; whether in the inner part of this wall filling is a remains of the original miraculous image has to be further investigated, that is the remains of the specific pier from the first and second granary; Above the arch apex of the main floor there is a horizontal frieze. Above that, there arises the crowning: on each corner there is a pinnacle, on each side a gable in the form of a nearly isosceles triangle, in the middle a high, thin, pointed, melon dome with finials on the edges. Gothic tendencies become clear only in these crowing forms. The main part of structure has the peaceful, powerful relationship of the surrounding church room. The appearance of the rounded arch and the high pier step on it reveals that Orcagna borrowed his architectural thoughts from it. The pier framework of the tabernacle – square with three twisted columns before the beveled outer corners and the same column pairs are in the openings under the arches – enhances the corresponding motif of the surrounding monumental building in the celebratory way, that the specific purpose of the tabernacle requires. For the same reasons, the enclosure is most luxuriously decorated. All the sides that are related to the enclosure are decorated with marble reliefs, encrusted with red and black marble ornaments and inlaid with red, blue, and gold glass. The capitals were marked with ionic blossoms and volutes, for which there were no precursors in the monumental structures of the past. Also, gilding is richly used. With the expense of all previously known means of art and with creative fantasy, Orcagna has created a wonder of trecento decorative art in Florence.

The Sculptures. Extraordinarily rich program in the style of the cycles on the pulpits of Niccolò and Giovanni Pisano and on the ciboria of Arnolfo di Cambio, however one of the goals of the miraculous image tabernacle is to correspond with the glorification of Mary. Base. Mary’s life is told on the four walls in eight octagonal reliefs; in the north (left) Mary’s birth and Mary’s presentation, in the west, the wedding and the proclamation, in the south, the birth of Christ and the worship of the kings, in the east the presentation of Christ in the temple and the death proclamation to Mary. In this Mary-cycle, an episode of the presentation of the virtues is engaged; Between every two of the mentioned octagonal reliefs, there is a on the north, west, and south side, there is a heptagon with a relief figures of each virtue (Fides, Spes, Caritas); on the backside there is a half figure of a manly saint. (perhaps a prophet?). The virtue series continues with the half figure reliefs on the pier base. On the middle corner field of each base there is each cardinal virtue (together four), on the lateral field next to it, two other virtues (all together eight), and on the once again protruding lateral corner field of each pier base, there are two manly half figures, probably prophets or ancestors of Mary (together eight). Main floor. Above the capitals of the colonettes on the corner pier there are twelve apostle statues; in the spandrel of the arches on the front side and on the flanks there are angel heads; on the frieze half figures of angels and saints. Around the miraculous image there is a marble curtain that is pulled back by angels. Behind it, the backside of the tabernacle is filled by a many-figured relief: the death of Mary and above the handing down of the belt to the apostle Thomas; under the figures on the deathbed of Mary there is a self-portrait of Orcagna (Man with a cowl, to the right), the oldest still existing, reliably identified realistic art self-portrait in western Christian art (162). Crowning. On the top of each ornamental gable and on the dome, each an angel statuette. – The Question of Masters. The sculptures can only be attributed in small part to Orcagna. Ghiberti reports, the master singlehandedly carried out the narrated representations (163). Vasari thinks, that all the figural representations can be traced to Organa and “his brother”, which the ornamental can be attributed to help from many different lands (164),. K. Steinweg assumed that most of the reliefs were designs of Orcagna and the participation of various help, and the death of Mary and the wedding and the proclamation take them completely out of the realm of having been done alone (165). Meaning. The reliefs of the tabernacle are the most important monument of Florentine sculpture between Andrea Pisano and Donatello. They combine the style of the oldest baptistery door with the spatial construction and the feel for human bodies of Giotto-esque painting and laid the ground for the Renaissance development in decisive ways (166). The ornamentation is largely without precursor. Capitals like the flower-decorated fluted capitals of the corner columns do not exist in Florentine gothic anymore than does the splendid foliage and the shell ornamentation of the pier filling. The boldness of these forms is emphasized even more livelier by the lightening colors of the glass ground. Gates. Above the tabernacle around lies a finely worked marble gate with bronze latticing; carried out in 1366 by the goldsmith Pietro del Migliore; The angel statuettes, who stand on the four columns on their corners, stem from the workshop of Orcagna (167). Floor. From colored marble; by Daniele di Bartolo and Francesco Teri, 1380 (168).

The St. Anne Altar

In the northeastern (left behind) bay of the interior History. On the St. Anne day of the 1343 the Duke of Athens was driven out of Florence. In memory of this event, the city government made St. Anne the patron of the city and errected an altar in Orsanmichele (169). This construction was done in all haste made of wood and was already in use in January 1344 (170). On the altar, a wood statue of St. Anne Selbdritt. In 1349 the government considered a church for the St. Anne cult across from Orsanmichele (171). When it was completed a few decades later, they left the St. Anne altar in its old place and dedicated the new church to St. Michael. Above the old altar a new St. Anne statue was placed in 1526. In 1575 the heads of the brotherhood of Orsanmichele asked the grand duke Francesco I, if he would grant them the means to replace the 14th century wood altar with a marble one (172). The altar that was built as a result of this request is dated to 1586. In 1770 it was covered over with a Baroque decoration and in 1909 brought back to its original condition (173).


(1) Research into history, Florenz, I, 1896, 448. See also Biadi, Fabbr., 1824, 63, 64 and Schnaase, Geschichte der Bildenden Künste im Mittelalter, V, 1876, 183.

(2) Bocchi, 1591, 28; Biadi, Fabbr., 1824, 63, 64; Kugler, Geschichte der Baukunst, III, 1859, 553. In addition, see the accurate critique of Schnaase ibid. V, 1876, 183. – H. Riegel supports a very different opinion, Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte Italiens, 1898, 63 ff. He thinks Or simply stands for the shortened form of ora = now and the name seems to indicate the current church in contrast to an older church.

(3) Document in Forschungen z. G. Florenz, I, 1896, 22; Frey-Vasari I, 1911, 562.

(4) Geschichte von Florenz, I, 1896, 71.

(5) Documents, ibid., I, 1896, 91 und Forschungen z. G. Florenz, IV 1908, 488 ff.

(6) Document in Geschichte von Florenz, I, 1896, 91.

(7) Document by Cocchi, Chiese, 1903, 71.

(8) Document in Forschungen z. G. Florenz, IV, 1908, 488 f.

(9) Ibid., 489.

(10) Ricordano Malespini names the year 1284 for this event. (Historia antica, ed. 1568, S. 172). – Giov. Villani, Cron., Book VII, Chapter 99 and Del Migliore, 1684, 530, who use a more modern reckoning of the calendar, name the February of this year (after the old Florentine census) as February 1285. – The so-called pseudo Brunetto Latini named (entirely erroneously) the year 1287 (Hartwig, Quellen und Forschungen zur älteren Geschichte der Stadt Florenz, II, 1880, 230).

(11) Vasari, I, 284. See also Del Migliore, 1684, 530. – Critical remarks in Schnaase, Geschichte der Bildenden Künste im Mittelalter, V, 1876, 183; even so, Arnolfo die Halle could have really constructed it, since this was a government building, and since he was, verifiably around 1300, the Florentine government architect.

(12) Document in Gaye I, 1839, 421.

(13) Giovanni Villani, Cron. Book VII, Chapter 45. Richa I, 1754, 9 ff. See also Passerini, Stab. 1853, 447 (the holy Antonin about the founding of the brotherhood)

(14) Giovanni Villani, Cron. Book VIII, Chapter 71.

(15) Document in Frey, Loggia dei Lanzi, 1885, 59, 60.

(16) See previous and following note.

(17) Document in Frey, Loggia dei Lanzi, 1885, 59, 60.

(18) Document in Gaye, I, 1839, 478.

(19) Giovanni Villani, Cron. Buch XI, Kap. 1.

(20) Document in Gaye, I, 1839, 48, 448, 449.

(21) Giovanni Villani, Cron., Book XI, Chapter 67; Gaye, ibid. Date of the cornerstone ceremony according to Del Migliore, 1684, 530 July 29th from the Diary of Rocco di Domenico Spinelli and Gaye I, 50 July 18th; see Mazzanti-Del Lungo, Raccolta etc., 1876, 31. – According to Del Migliore the foundation occured in the name of the then-prevailing Guelf Party. – Richa I, 1754, 15/16 dates the described events based on a document, that he publishes, erroneously in 1309.

(22) Vasari I, 576. See also Kugler, Gesch. D. Baukunst, III, 1859, 553. Although no single construction is attested to Taddeo through documents as of yet, this painter, Giotto’s favorite student, in my opinion comes into question for the design of Or S. Michele, because the building concept is very close to Giotto’s cathedral Campanile.

(23) As a first step, Gelli attributed – around the mid-sixteenth century – Orsanmichele to Orcagna (see Steinweg, Orcagna, 1929, 10, 44). Del Migliore takes parts of the building for Orcagna’s work (1684, 531; Seinweg, 44). The opinion of Vasari: Arnolfo built the first hall of Orsanmichele, but Taddeo Gaddi the second, Richa looks to reconcile with Del Migliore’s opinion, in which he wrote, Arnolfo, Taddeo and Orcagna worked on Orsanmichele one after another. Gaye looked for a confirmation of acceptance, Orcagna had a share in the construction of Orsanmichele, in which he proved, that the master was named as „Capomaestro“ of the „Oratoriums“ of Orsanmichele between February 13, 1355 and March 29, 1357 (I, 1839, 52), whereby the fact also holds true, that Orcagna named himself as „Oratorii archimagister“ in the 1359 inscription on the Tabernacle of Orsanmichele. Nevertheless, other writers of the 19th century say, only a part of the structure could be attributed to the master, and in particular the padding of the great arcades: Fantozzi, Guida, 1842, 309; Perkins, Tuscan Sculptors, I, 1864, 79; also similar Burkhardt, Cicerone, 1855, 576; Kugler, Gesch. D. Baukunst, III, 1869, 353; Schnaase, Geschichte der Bildenden Künste im Mittelalter, v, 1876, 183. But Passerini authenticated, that these traceries originated with Simone di Francesco Talenti (Steinweg, Orcagna, 1929, 45). Frey concluded that, Orcanga had nothing to do with the structure himself in his capacity as Capomaestro, but rather only with its decoration, such as the likewise the mentioned stone mason Giovanni di Fetto at the Cathedral (Loggia dei Lanzi, 1885, 104). I add on still: perhaps not the church, but rather the tabernacle of the image of mercy was intended with “Oratorium”? The hall itself was indeed in Orcanga’s time not yet an Oratorium, but rather a grain market. At any rate, Klara had Steinweg correct, when she rejected on grounds of stylistic critique, an involvement of Orcagna at the structure (ibid. 45). For this rejection, Tosi, Boll. d’A. XXVII, 1934, 514 ff. has since produced a concise argument

(24) Neri di Fioravanti and Francesco Talenti were considered first by Franceschini (Or S. Michele, 1892, 25). Neri di Fioranvanti had connections to the Bauhütte of Orsanmichele twelve years after the start of construction; that is proved documentarily; In 1349/51 he managed the new construction of S. Michele Vecchio with Benci di Cione (S. Carlo Borromeo I; see Band II, 418, Note 5), and this new construction was subordinate to the heads of the Laudesi-Brotherhood of Orsanmichele, indeed this new construction was most likely taken care of by the same builder’s guild; Benci managed also around 1366 the construction of the upper parts of Orsanmichele (see below). Neri also, and Benci certainly later, probably belonged to the Bauhütte of Orsanmichele. Still the components that the two masters carried out in the great room of the Bargello-Palace in 1340-46 (Paatz, Mitt. Inst. Florenz, III, 1931, 311-14) differ considerably from the motifs of Orsanmichele; the coarse forms of the pilasters and the windows in the room have nothing at all in common with them [the motifs from Orsanmichele], and the arch construction technique also made use of the rounded arch (for the diagonal ribbing) and the pointed arch (for the vaulting). In this situation of things, I would like to consider the possibility, that Neri and Benchi worked for Orsanmichele (like for example demonstrably for the cathedral and its Campanile) also at most as stonemasons or at best as foremen, but not as progenitors of the project. A certain choice however will first be allowed to be made, when the building style of both masters, which became for now still not individually tangible, becomes better understood. – About a relationship, that links Orsanmichele with a part of the Bargello-Palace established by Tone di Giovanni’s, see below Note 71 (end). Francesco Talenti is not mentioned in the documents in connection with Orsanmichele; yet he comes into consideration as creator of the architectural concept of Orsanmichele. Because he made the columns and spatial conditions of the nave of S. Maria del Fiore (see Band III, S. 330/31 and S. 445 f. Notes 66 and 67), and he assumed the corresponding motives of Orsanmichele; this conviction has been broadly popular since Franceschini. Siebenhüner actually ventured to attribute Orsanmichele to Francesco Talenti (Thieme-Becker XXXII, 1938, 415). Whether this opinion answers the question definitively must be awaited. Against [this], it could be argued, that when comparing between Orsanmichele and the cathedral nave, outside of the similarities, significant differences exist: in the cathedral itself, instead of the rounded arch, that is predominant in Orsanmichele, one finds again the pointed arch; also the proportions of the cathedral columns are less balanced; the cathedral comes across less harmonically and therefore more dynamically, more austerely, and more sparsely. These differences can be explained by the different eras in which the two structures were built; Talenti’s cathedral nave first developed in 1357 and following, therefore a full twenty years after the start date of Orsanmichele; one could also try to make it comprehensible through the evidence, that Talenti verifiably at times during the cathedral construction had taken into account the wishes of other artists and critics (see Band III, page 449, Note 67, conclusion). The question, whether the aforementioned difference seriously carries weight against the attribution of Orsanmichele to Talenti or not, can be only reliably answered if the research should succeed in more clearly defining Talenti’s character and the outlines of his art. Jacopo Talenti whom Franceschini also considers (Or S. Michele 1892, 25), in my opinion, is eliminated, because his architectural concepts (see under S. Maria Novella) have common general tendencies with Orsanmichele, but also no more. Andrea Pisano comes into consideration just a little: his part at the Campanile of S. Maria del Fiore has nothing at all to do with Orsanmichele stylistically.

(25) Document in Gaye I, 1839, 46 f.

(26) Document in Gaye I, 1839, 46 f. In the year 1340 two columns with tabernacles and statues were furnished, and a third was supposed to be attained for the exact same decorative purpose? (Document by Frey-Vasari I, 1911, 379). For details, see under Facilities, page 491.

(27) Document in Gaye I, 1839, 51.

(28) See under Facilities, St. Anne Altar: also Marrai, Riv. d’A. VI; 1909, 251. – See also further down under 1366.

(29) Document in Gaye I, 1839, 51. See also Matteo Villani, Cron., Book I, Chapter 57, and Franceschini, Or S. Michele, 1892, 44.

(30) Document in Gaye I, 1839, 52. – That on that occasion a conclusion was reached, emerges clearly from a document from November 14, 1358: at that time, the confraternity of Orsanmichele turned their income to other aims, because their own building was finished (Guasti, S. Maria del Fiore, 1887, 132 f.); It will presumably involve the church, not the mercy-image tabernacle, because this was still in progress in 1359/60 (See under Facilities).

(31) Document in Gaye I, 1839, 513.

(32) Document in Franceschini, Or S. Michele, 1892, 57. – See also Gaye I, 1839, 53.

(33) Document in Franceschini, Or S. Michele, 1892, 58. Del Badia, Misc. fior., 1902, 31. The Development on this process has remained intact into the 17th century: see Del Migliore, 1684, 532.

(34) Document in Franceschini, Or S. Michele, 1892, 95.

(35) Document in Franceschini, ibid., 1892, 58 and Del Badia, Misc. fior,, II, 1902, 31. – Siebenhüner,Thieme-Becker XXXII, 1938, 416; Which arch panels are identical with the test pieces is unknown; The concept appears to be established in 1366.

(36) Document in Poggi, Or S. Michele, 1895, 39-45.

(37) Documents in Poggi, ibid., 1895, 45.

(38) Franceschini (a. a. O. 36) begründete diese Ansetzung mit dem Stil der Reliefs, die in diesen Backsteinwänden enthalten sind; diese Reliefs wurden jedoch schon vorher für eine andere Verwendung geschaffen (vgl. unter Ausstattung, S. 491). Da eines von ihnen gelegentlich der Einmauerung zur Vervollständigung des Zyklus nachträglich zugefügt wurde und als ein Jugendwerk des Nanni di Banco gilt, könnte man sich versucht fühlen, die Schließung der Arkaden erst um 1400 anzusetzen. Doch scheint mir die Einsetzung von Fenstern, die 1380 erfolgte (vgl. oben), die Schließung der Arkaden bereits vorauszusetzen.

(38) Franceschini (ibid. 36) justified this approach with the style of the reliefs, that are included in this brick wall; these Reliefs were created in the first place for another use (See under Ausstattung, pg. 491). Because one of them was subsequently attributed to the masonry work for the completion of the series and applies as an early work of Nanni di Banco, one could feel himself tempted to position the closing of the arcade first around 1400. It seems to me the installation of windows, that took place in 1380 (see oben) already assumed the closure of the arcade.

(39) See Foll.-Rastr. VI, 1795, 170 f.; See also Note 50.

(40) Documents in Poggi, Or S. Michele, 1895, 43 ff. and Franceschini, Or S. Michele, 1892, 69. – The mini columns on the State windows are made of marble.

(41) Documents in Poggi ibid. 43.

(42) Documents in Franceschini, ibid. 64, 76.

(43) Documents in La Sorsa, La Compagnia di Or San Michele, 1902, 60, 63, 269.

(44) Document in Franceschini ibid., 71/72.

(45) The doors likely stem in a great part from Lamberti. So Milanesi-Vasari II, 142; Fabriczy, Arch. Stor. Ital. 1902. Reymond, Riv. d’A. I, 1904, 245 ff.; Gottschewski-Vasari, III, 18. Documents in Procacci, II Vasari, I, 1927/28, 304 ff. (on pg. 308 a register of participating stonemasons). In 1380 Ghoro Nicolai had also worked on the main doors, see Poggi, Or S. Michele, 1895, 44. - Semper, Donatello, 1887, 9, 10 makes use of four Prophet statues for Lamberti; concerning this series, see Note 74.

(46) Richa I, 1754, 24; Foll.-Rastr. VI, 1795, 171/72.

(47) Mazzanti-Del Lungo, Raccolta etc., 1876, 32.

(48) Lapini, Diario, ed. Corazzini, 1900, 13 und 166.

(49) Richa I, 1754, 28.

(50) Foll.-Rastr. VI, 1795, 170, 171. The interior view of Or S. Michele, that Poccetti painted in a Fresco in the Cloister of S. Marco informs about the condition. (Foto Brogi 2748, der junge Antonin betend in Or S. Michele). Accordingly, the bottom half of the middle area remained open as a door, that walled upper against it already.

(51) Franceschini, Or S. Michele, 1892, 104.

(53) A. e st. XX, 1901, 95.

(52) See previous note. They were very weathered.

(54) Document in Geschichte von Florenz, I, 1896, 91.

(55) As described by a writer, who must have seen this building with his own eyes, to the chronicler of “Pseudo Brunetto Latini”; see Hartwig, Quellen und Forschungen zur älteren Geschichte der Stadt Florenz, II, 1880, 230. – Vasari’s Description (I, 284) likely refers back to Giovanni Villani, Cron., Book XI, Chapter 67 and confuses the second hall with the first. Also the reconstruction by Frey, Loggia dei Lanzi, 1885, 59 cannot be considered when compared to the next reference. Ricorando Malespini, who saw the hall of 1285 develop, called the loggia “una opera allora molto bella” (Historia Antica ed. 1568, 172).

(56) Statute of the Laudesi-Brotherhood. See Las Sorsa, La Compagnia di Or. S. Michele, 1902, 189.

(57) Document in Gaye, I 1839, 48.

(58) As described by Giovanni Villani, Cron., Buch XI, Chapter 67, who must have seen the building with his own eyes.

(59) Older building records of the 19th century cited in Schnaase, Geschicte der Bildenden Künste im Mittelalter, V, 1876, 184 (Wiebeking, Runge und Rosengarten, etc).

(60) See Building History

(61) Reconstruction drawing of the original, open state of the market hall in Rohault de Fleury, La Toscane au moyenâge, 1870.

(62) It can be discussed only hintingly in this book. — Description. In each floor lancet windows (Biforien) open as the most important partition arrangement. The upper closing of the upper floor and thereby of the whole building forms a considerably protruding cornice, that is built from small calm arches of corbels. The described building elements have a most excellent place in the history of Florentine palace construction. Through the striking size of their windows, through the release of rustication of the exterior walls and through the subtlety of their profile, they take an advance above the Palazzo Vecchio and xxx the xx, that Brunelleschi xx I the upper floor of the Palace of the Guelf Party. – The Type of the tower-like city granary appears in France; the could be sole known medieval example in Pierrelatte (Drôme) in the absence of distinct style, unfortunately cannot be exactly dated; the example in Ardes (Pas de Calais) seemingly originates from the 16th or 17th century. See C. Enlart, Manuel d’archéologie française, II, 1904, 198.

(63) A precursor, which largely compares to Orsanmichele, is the Arnolfian Bath.

(63a) Such grain chute distribution appliances also appear in French storage facilities, which are not dated clearly, but likely after Orsanmichele was established: C. Enlart, Mauel d’archéologie française, II, 1904, 198.

(64) See M. Reymond, La sculpture Florentine I 1897, 203/04 and Venturi, Storia IV, 1906, 706 f. A few of the statues are now replaced by copies; the originals are located in the Bargello, a few maybe also in the great cloister of S. Marco (Sinibaldi, Il museuo di S. Marco, 1936, 38). – Construction documentations (very summarized!) by Mazzanti-Del Lungo, Raccolta, 1876, LXXXVI, LXXXVII and by Rohault de Fleury, 1, 1870. – In my opinion, the motifs stem from the magnificent tracery-motifs, that the father of Simone Talenti, Francesco, established in the upper floor of the Campanile of S. Maria del Fiore. – About the account of the installation of the tracery, see the Building History. After its installation, the tracery must have seemed very similar to that in the Camposanto in Pisa (likewise subsequently configured).

(65) The peculiar cross and crenellated patterns of these barriers originate from the decorative forms of the cathedral façade. They could appear on the base step of the main door and on the base step of the northern corner posts (from the sketch from 1486: Figure 99 by Paatz, Werden und Wesen der Tecentoarchitektur, 1937) and could have been created by Arnolfo di Cambio , but also by Francesco Talenti, who verifiably had taken part in the main door (see Band III, pg. 443, note 65). Simone Talenti probably adopted this motif from the decorative forms of his father.

(66) About the purpose of this filling wall, see the Building History.

(67) About this Wimperg-Type see Reymond, Riv. d’A. I, 1904, 245ff. – For the doors also see note 45.

(68) See “Exterior.” – The building type of the column hall has been adopted clearly from the two older, previously existing, on this site granaries (See under Reconstruction). According to Patzak, they were brought together with granaries in French cloisters. (Die Renaissance- und Barockvilla in Italien, I, 1912, 88.) Nevertheless, C. Enlart, who describes such systems, names nothing of the sort (Manuel d’archéologie française, II, 1904, 197/98). Perhaps it has given a few more preliminary stages in Byzantium. Hence, I would like to conclude, that it is preserved in the Constantinople secular buildings of a related type from the time of Emperor Justinian; there are storage halls, whose vaults rest on columns (Cistern of Philoxenos from 519; Cistern of Jere-batan-Serai Bodrum, also called „Basilika,” from 520), or on piers (Cistern of Eschwefije-Sokagh; post-Justinian); see. O. Wulff, Altchristliche und byzantinische Kunst, 1914, 404 (with Note); there is yet another Italian early-Renaissance structure, that corresponds to this Byzantine type, the Santa Maria in Portico a Fontegiusta in Siena. Perhaps in Byzantium, in the city with the richest medieval secular architecture, there are also market halls of according appearance, and perhaps the two older Orsanmichele halls were inspired from such models.

(69) The fulfillment of this effort was supported through the fact, that here a planned (market)hall was to be built. The building master had a favorable site, but with more sure mastery. That informs the subsequently described design of the individual forms.

(70) Width : Length = 2 : 3

(71) As early as Del Migliore, 1684, 532. – The gothic arch had dominated the Florentine ecclesiastical monumental architecture since the beginning of the new construction of S. Maria Novella (around 1246) until Arnolfo and Giotto. - The Round Arch. On monumental secular structures this older arch form survived occasionally during this era. For example in the Loggia in the court of the Bargello Palace (around 1280/85: see Paatz, Mitt. Inst. Florenz III, 1931, 302ff.) and in the windows of the Palazzo Vecchio (ibid. Figures. Page 313) – both instances presumably in the Arnolfian framework. In church architecture, the round arch was tolerated only outside the circle of the monumental building; on side structures like the portico of S. Jacopo in Campo Corbolini (see Band II, pg. 402 and pg. 408 note 22) and the Chiostro delle Oblate at S. Maria Nuova (1289ff. see Band IV, pg. 12) or on small churches like S. Giovannino dei Cavalieri (1329-36; see Band II. pg. 307; this church for example belongs in the typical style of Arnolfo di Cambio). Orsanmichele (1337ff), the first monumental church, on which the rounded arch appeared again, was conceived as a secular building. Round-arched vault construction The connection of half-circle formed transverse arches and segmented diagonal ribs that you can see on Orsanmichele has been verified on Florentine gothic building since this connection was applied around 1280/85 in the recessed court balcony of the Bargello palace (Mitt. Inst. Florenz, III, 1931, 302 ff.: with note). The forms in Orsanmichele are especially similar to the upper court balconies of the same palace built by Tonne di Giovanni 1320ff. because in them there are not only the same arch forms that are combined but also the diagonal edges of the abutting semi-circular arch, exactly like the outer arcade of Orsanmichele (see Building History, Exterior); and also above the Loggia of Tone di Giovanni see Mitt. Inst. Florenz III, 1931, 308-09 and the notes on pages 305, 310.

(72) Nardini found the evolutionary meaning of the post form, indeed without specifying (Il Duomo di S. Giovanni, 1902, 173). Clearly the characteristic connection of gothic logic and Italian simplicity is clearly recognizable.

(73) The Gothic arch panels probably come from the Arnolfian decorative wall elements on the outer flanks of S. Maria del Fiore (see Band III, pg. 348, 350). The hexagon that is on the peak is obviously from Giotto’s façade on the Campanile of S. Maria del Fiore. Paatz, Röm, Jb. V, 1941, 204.

(74) Museo Nazionale Nr. 22, 26, 61, 64, 66, 75, 77, 81. – Sketch by Venturi, Storia, IV, 1906, 707 ff. See also Semper, Donatello, 1887, 9, 10 (four statues on the west façade are considered works by Niccolo Lamberti); Reymond, La sculture florentine V, 14, 203; Burger, Jb. pr. Ks. XXVII, 1906, 129; Rathe, Der Figurenschmuck der alten Domfassade in Florenz 1910, 87f. – Possibly there are four statues in the cloister of S. Marco (Sinibaldi, Il museo di S. Marco, 1936, 38).


Via Calzaioli zwischen Nr. 25 R und Nr. 27 R.


Giuseppe Castellani, ll Palazzo detto di Or San Michele, i suoi tempi ed ii progetto del suo restauro, Firenze-Roma, 1883. Abgekürzt: Castellazzi, Or S. Michele.

Pietro Fraeschini, L’Oratorio di S. Michele in Orto in Firenze, Firenze 1892. Abgekürzt: Franceschini, Or S. Michele.

Girolamo Poggi, Or S. Michele, 1895.

Hermann Riegel, Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte Italiens, 1898, 63ff. La Sorsa, La Compagnia di Or San Michele, 1902.


Der Name Or San Michele wird verschieden erklärt. Wahrscheinlich ist er eine volkstümliche Abwandlung des Namens der vorher dort befindlichen Kirche ,,S. Michaelis in Orto”, der besagt, daß diese Kirche in Gärten lag; dieser Name ist 1239 urkundlich bezeugt (1). - Eine andere Deutung sieht in dem Beiwort “Or” eine Anspielung auf den Getreidespeicher (lateinisch horreum), der die ältere Kirche ersetzte (2), doch wird diese Annahme durch das Vorkommen des Wortes “Orto” im Jahre 1239, also vor der Gründung des Kornspeichers, wiederlegt.


An der Stelle von Or San Michele befand sich ursprünglich ein kleines Nonnenkloster mit einer Kirche namens S. Michaelis in Orto; es wurde 895 als eine bereits seit langem bestehende Stiftung des Abtes Peter von S. Silvestro in Nonantola bezeichnet (3) und ist vielleicht bald nach der Gründung des Mutterklosters (752) eingerichtet worden, da es noch dem Kult des langobardischen Nationalheiligen ge­weiht wurde (4). Das Kloster blieb im Besitz der berühmten ober­italienischen Abtei, so lange es bestand (5). Es scheint im Florentiner Kulturleben als eine der ersten Pflegstätten der Webekunst schon während des 9. Jahrhunderts eine gewisse Bedeutung gehabt zu haben (6). 1046 stand S. Michele in Orto unter der Verwaltung eines Propstes (7); das Nonnenkloster existierte also möglicherweise nicht mehr. Im Jahre 1239 wurde die Kirche anscheinend in einer Ge­schlechterfehde zerstört, und zwar durch Schuld des Munaldus Ranutius und anderer Florentiner Bürger (8).

Des neugewonnenen Raumes im Zentrum der Stadt bemächtigte sich die Stadtverwaltung, um einen öffentlichen Platz herzurichten (9).

Einige Jahrzehnte später, im Februar 1285, ließ sie eben dort eine offene Halle für den Kornmarkt aufführen (10). Dieser Bau soll von Arnolfo di Cambio errichtet worden sein (11) und war 1290 bereits in Gebrauch (12). An einem seiner Pfeiler war ein Madonnenbild angebracht worden. Dieses begann im Jahre 1292 auf wunderbare Weise Kranke zu heilen; seitdem wurde die Halle eine der wichtigsten Kultstätten der Stadt und der Sitz einer mächtigen Bruderschaft, die regelmäßig Lobgesänge zu Ehren des Gnadenbildes ver­anstaltete und deshalb ,,Laudesi” genannt wurde (13). Immerhin diente die Halle noch einige weitere Jahrzehnte hindurch auch ihrem ursprünglichen profanen Zweck.Im Jahre 1304 fiel sie mit ihrem ganzen Stadtviertel dem Brande zum Opfer, den Ser Neri Abati im Verlauf eines Geschlechterkampfes angelegt hatte (14).

1307 begann man mit der Errichtung des Ersatzbaus (15). Diese zweite, 1308 noch unvollendete Halle scheint nicht sehr solide ge­raten zu sein (16). Schon 1321 drohte sie zusammenzustürzen und mußte repariert werden (17). Dasselbe wiederholte sich dann noch einmal im Jahre 1332 (18). Möglicherweise hat die Überschwem­mung von 1333, während der das Wasser in der Halle zwei Ellen hoch stand (19), den Verfall des Gebäudes von neuem beschleunigt. Jedenfalls stellte die Regierung 1336 in aller Form fest, daß die Halle wegen ihrer geringen Größe die Menge des aufgespeicherten Ge­treides nicht genügend schützen könne und außerdem geradezu einen Schandfleck im Stadtbild darstelle; es solle, so beschloß sie, an ihrer Stelle eine neue Halle entstehen, und zwar ein richtiger Palast, groß genug, um das Korn besser aufzubewahren und dem Kult des wunder­tätigen Madonnenbildes einen würdigen Rahmen zu bieten, schön genug, um dem Staat Ehre zu machen; zugleich wurde eine Kom­mission eingesetzt, um den Neubau in Gang zu bringen (20). Am 29. Juli des folgenden Jahres erfolgte die feierliche Grundsteinlegung in Gegenwart aller Behörden; zugleich wurde festgesetzt, daß über dem neu zu bauenden Gnadenbild-,,Oratorium” zwei gewölbte Ge­schosse als Kornspeicher zu errichten wären, und zwei Jahre später, daß die Zünfte (als Mitträger der Stadtregierung) an dem neuen Palast ihre Schutzpatrone aufzustellen hätten, derart, daß jeder Pfeiler der Halle mit einem Heiligen geschmückt würde (21). Das großartige Wahrzeichen des florentinischen Gemeinwesens, das dann in jahrzehntelanger Arbeit hier erwuchs und von jeher als eines der vollkommensten Denkmäler fiorentinischer Gotik und Renaissance bewundert wird, ist also schon damals mit vollem Bewußtsein und in seinem ganzen Umfang geplant worden.

Wer den Entwurf für den Neubau geliefert und damit eine neue Epoche in der Entwicklung der Florentiner Gotik eingeleitet hat, ist ungewiß. Der Maler Taddeo Gaddi, dem Vasari dieses Verdienst zu­ schreibt, kommt in Betracht (22), Andrea Orcagna nicht (23). Außer­dem kommen dafür in Frage Neri di Fioravanti, Benci di Cione und vor allem Francesco Talenti, deren spätere Bauten und Schulbauten, der Dom und die Loggia de’Lanzi, eine folgerichtige Entfaltung des Stils von Or San Michele brachten (24). Bauherrin war als Vertreterin der Stadtregierung die Zunft der Seidenweber (25).

Der Bau muß in den ersten Jahren ziemlich schnell gefördert worden sein. Anfang 1339 standen schon Teile von mehreren der zehn Pfeiler, und der Rest sollte unmittelbar folgen (26). - Im Herbst desselben Jahres und im Jahre 1342 stellte die Regierung weitere Mittel für den Bau bereit (27). 1343 stiftete sie einen St. Annenkult in Or San Michele, um den Tag der Vertreibung des Herzogs von Athen in feierlicher Erinnerung zu halten. Damals entschloß man sich anscheinend, dem begonnenen Markthallengeschoß des Neuhaus in höherem Grade den Charakter einer Kirche zu geben (28). Bald danach scheinen die Arbeiten allmählich langsamer geworden und schließlich durch die Pest von 1348 gänzlich ins Stocken geraten zu sein. “Die Pfeiler stehen fertig, mit ihren Fresken geschmückt, die Lehrgerüste für die Gewölbe sind errichtet, und wenn nicht bald Mittel zur Weiterführung des Baues bewilligt werden, so muß das alles verderben”, berichtet die Seidenzunft am 19. April 1350 anschaulich und Hilfe flehend an die Stadtverwaltung (29).

Wirklich muß sie dadurch das Unternehmen wieder in Gang gebracht haben. Wenig später erfolgt die Bestellung eines kostbaren Tabernakels für das wundertätige Madonnenbild; das läßt vermuten, daß man sicher auf eine baldige Vollendung der Kirche rechnete, und im April des Jahres 1357 scheinen deren Gewölbe bereits fertig gewesen zu sein (30).

Um dieselbe Zeit (1361) verlegte die Regierung den Getreidemarkt von der Piazza di Or San Michele weg, um dem nahezu fertigen Tabernakel eine würdige Umgebung zu sichern (31). Damit war ein weiterer, entscheidener Schritt in der allmählichen Eroberung des Gebäudes durch den Kult getan.

Die vollständige Verwischung aller Spuren der ursprünglichen, pro­fanen Zweckbestimmung wurde 1366 beschlossen, während die Errichtung der oberen, auch weiterhin zur Kornspeicherung bestimmten Räume unter Leitung von Benci di Cione langsam voranschritt (32). Damals wurden sich die Vorsteher einig, die Arkaden des Erdgeschosses durch Maßwerk zu vergittern und die offene Halle da­durch in eine geschlossene Kirche zu verwandeln (33). Im selben Jahre wurde die Besorgung des Altardienstes den Mönchsorden ge­nommen, die sie in einem bestimmten Turnus erledigt hatten, und einem eigens dafür angestellten Sakristan übertragen (34). Am 2. April 1367 (nach anderen am 11. April 1366) waren zwei Bogen­füllungen bereits begonnen, und man bedeutete dem Simone di Francesco Talenti, er solle diese von ihm geschaffenen Probestücke vollenden, dann aber weitere Weisungen der Baubehörde abwarten (35). Von einer Fortführung der Arbeit ist erst wieder 1378 und 1380 die Rede. Als leitender Baumeister erscheint von neuem Simone di Francesco Talenti; als ausführende, anscheinend recht ungeschickte Kräfte werden die Steinmetzen Antonio di Francesco, Giovanni di Buonafede, Leonardo Masi, Matteo di Cione, Lorenzo di Filippo ge­nannt, die man verschiedentlich zwang, für verpfuschte Arbeit Er­satz zu leisten (36). 1380 dürfte die Einfügung des Maßwerks in die Arkaden zum Abschluß gekommen sein, denn in diesem Jahre ist von der Versetzung von Fenstern die Rede (37). - Damals hatte man sich also wohl auch bereits entschlossen, das Stabwerk in den Arkaden mit Mauern zu verschließen (38). Doch blieben die mittleren Öffnungen in den mittleren Arkaden der beiden Langseiten offen und erhielten sich in diesem Zustand bis zum Jahre 1770 (39).

1380 scheint sich auch der Bau der oberen Stockwerke des Palastes dem Abschluß genähert zu hahen. Damals wurde Marmor besorgt, wohl für die Prunkfenster (40), und am Dach gearbeitet (41). Die Beschleunigung der Arbeiten kurz vor 1380 mag damit zusammen­hängen, daß 1376 die Laudesi-Bruderschaft die Bauleitung an Stelle der Seidenzunft übertragen bekam (42).

Um 1380 stand die Kirche also im wesentlichen so da, wie sie heute erhalten ist Doch blieb noch einige Kleinarbeit zu leisten. 1384 wurde ein Zehntel der Einkünfte der Bruderschaft für die Weiterführung des Baus bestimmt; 1397 neue Zahlungen (43). 1404 wurde das Kranz-Gesims des Palastes aufgesetzt (44). 1408 und 1410 führte Niccolò di Piero Lamberti die vielleicht schon früher begonnen Arbeiten an den beiden Hauptportalen zu Ende; sein Anteil ist heute nicht mehr sicher abzugrenzen (45).

1415 richtete man ein Kollegiatstift in der Kirche ein (46). Um 1480 wurde sie vorübergehend profaniert (47). Sie erlitt aßer niemals ernstliche Veränderungen. 1569 wurde das Obergeschoß des Palastes als Staatsarchiv eingerichtet (48) und mit dem gegenüberliegenden Amtsgebäude der Wollweberzunft über die Straße hinweg durch eine Überführung verbunden, und zwar angeblich durch Bernardo Buontalenti. 1628 vermauerte man das rechte, südliche Hauptportal der Fassade (49). 1770 wurden die bis dahin im unteren Teil offen­gebliebenen mittleren Öffnungen in den mittleren Arkaden der Flanken vermauert; gleichzeitig baute man im linken, nördlichen Chorjoch eine Sakristei ein (50). 1821 wurde das Bogenfeld unter dem Verbindungsbogen des Buontalenti entfernt, 1858 wieder er­neuert (51). 1852 ff. wurden die dekorativen Teile der Arkaden zum großen Teil ausgewechselt (52). 1901 fand eine neue Restaurierung statt (53). 1931 ff. wurde der Fußboden in den beiden vorderen Jochen des Oratoriums, der nachträglich auf das etwas höhere Niveau des letzten (Chor-)Joches gebracht worden war, wieder in den ursprüng­lichen Zustand versetzt und der Sakristei-Einbau entfernt.

Rekonstruktion der Verlorener Bauzustände

Kirche und Kloster S. Michaelis in Orto.

Über den karolingischen Klosterbau des 8. oder 9. Jahrhunderts ist nur bekannt, daß er eine Werkstatt für Wollweberei enthielt (54). Die Kirche wird ganz klein gewesen sein, da der Konvent nur aus wenigen Nonnen bestand (885 waren es 6 Schwestern).

Die erste Kornhalle; 1285, von Arnolfo di Cambio (?).

Zierlicher Hausteinbau mit zehn Pfeilern (55). - Der Pfeiler mit dem berühmten Gnadenhild (vgl. unten S. 499) war schon 1294 mit einem hölzernen Hüttchen umbaut, das die Andächtigen gegen die Ahendluft schützen sollte (56). Ob von diesem Pfeiler noch ein Überrest vorhanden ist (im jetzigen Gnadenbild-Tabernakel), wäre zu klären; vgl. dazu S. 499 f.

Die zweite Kornhalle; 1308 ff.

Sie war wesentlich kleiner als der heutige Bau (57) und hatte dünne, schlecht fundamentierte Backsteinpfeiler (58). An einem der Pfeiler das Gnadenbild; ob sich ein Überrest dieses Pfeilers erhalten hat (im jetzigen Gnadenbild-Tabernakel), wäre noch zu klären; vgl. dazu S. 499 f.



Bauaufnahmen. Zeichnungen von Giorgio Vasari d. J., Uffizien, Nr. 4784 und 6158-71. —Grundriß, Aufriß, Schnitte, Einzelheiten usw. bei Rohault de Fleury, La Toscane au moyenâge, I, 1870, und bei Mazzanti-Del Lungo, Raccolta delle migliori fabbriche etc. 1876, LXXXVI ff. (59). Typus. Der Baugedanke von Or San Michele ist ein Unikum: in ihm verbinden sich die architektonischen Typen der Markthalle, des Speicherhauses und des Bruderschafts-Oratoriums zu einer Einheit, die nur durch das Zusammentreffen ganz besonderer geschichtlicher Umstände zustande kommen konnte (60). Das Erdgeschoß — als Markthalle begonnen — ist eine gewölbte Pfeilerhalle; es war ursprünglich offen und wurde erst nach einem Planwechsel durch Vermauerung der äußeren Arkaden in einen geschlossenen Kirchenraum verwandelt (61). Darüber erheben sich zwei hohe, als Kornspeicher errichtete Obergeschosse (62). Der ursprünglich beabsichtigte Gegensatz zwischen der offenen Pfeilerhalle und dem darüber aufstrebenden turmhausartigen Block der Speichergeschosse muß sehr eigenartig gewirkt haben.


(1) Forschungen z. G. Florenz, I, 1896, 448. Vgl. auch Biadi, Fabbr., 1824, 63, 64 und Schnaase, Geschichte der Bildenden Künste im Mittelalter, V, 1876, 183.

(2) Bocchi, 1591, 28; Biadi, Fabbr., 1824, 63, 64; Kugler, Geschichte der Baukunst, III, 1859, 553; vgl. Dazu die zutreffende Kritik bei Schnaase a. a. O. V, 1876, 183. – Eine ganz andere Meinung vertritt H. Riegel, Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte Italiens, 1898, 63 ff. Er meint, Or bedeute nur die abgekürzte Form von ora = jetzt und der Name wolle sagen, daß man die jetzige Kirche meine, im Gegensatz etwa zu einer älteren Kirche.

(3) Urkunde in Forschungen z. G. Florenz, I, 1896, 22; Frey-Vasari I, 1911, 562.

(4) Geschichte von Florenz, I, 1896, 71.

(5) Urkunden a. a. O. I, 1896, 91 und Forschungen z. G. Florenz, IV 1908, 488 ff.

(6) Urkunde in Geschichte von Florenz, I, 1896, 91.

(7) Urkunde bei Cocchi, Chiese, 1903, 71.

(8) Urkunden in Forschungen z. G. Florenz, IV, 1908, 488 f.

(9) A. a. O., 489.

(10) Ricordano Malespini nennt für diesen Vorgang das Jahr 1284 (Historia antica, ed. 1568, S. 172). – Den Februar dieses Jahres (nach altflorentiner Zählung), der nach moderner Zeitrechnung mit dem Februar 1285 identisch ist, nennen: Giov. Villani, Cron., Buch VII, Kap. 99 und Del Migliore, 1684, 530. – Das Jahr 1287 nennt (wohl irrtümlich) der sogennante Pseudo Brunetto Latini (Hartwig, Quellen und Forschungen zur älteren Geschichte der Stadt Florenz, II, 1880, 230).

(11) Vasari, I, 284. Vgl. auch Del Migliore, 1684, 530. – Kritische Bemerkungen bei Schnaase, Geschichte der Bildenden Künste im Mittelalter, V, 1876, 183; doch könnte Arnolfo die Halle wirklich erbaut haben, da diese ein Bau der Regierung war und da er um 1300 nachweislich der Florentiner Regierungsbaumeister war.

(12) Urkunde bei Gaye I, 1839, 421.

(13) Giovanni Villani, Cron. Buch VII, Kap. 45. Richa I, 1754, 9 ff. Vgl. auch Passerini, Stab. 1853, 447 (der hlg. Antonin über die Gründung der Bruderschaft).

(14) Giovanni Villani, Cron., Buch VIII, Kap. 71.

(15) Urkunde bei Frey, Loggia dei Lanzi, 1885, 59, 60.

(16) Vgl. vorige und folgende Anmerkung.

(17) Urkunde bei Frey, Loggia die Lanzi, 1885, 59, 60.

(18) Urkunde bei Gaye, I, 1839, 478.

(19) Giovanni Villani, Cron. Buch XI, Kap. 1.

(20) Urkunde bei Gaye, I, 1839, 48, 448, 449.

(21) Giovanni Villani, Cron., Buch XI, Kap. 67; Gaye, a. a. O. Termin der Grundsteinlegung nach Del Migliore, 1684, 530 der 29. Juli, nach dem Diarium des Rocco di Domenico Spinelli und Gaye I, 50 der 18. Juli; vgl. Mazzanti-Del Lungo, Raccolta etc., 1876, 31. – Nach Del Migliore geschah die Gründung im Namen der damals herrschenden Welfen-Partei. – Richa I, 1754, 15/16 datiert die beschriebenen Vorgänge auf Grund einer Urkunde, die er abdruckt, versehentlich ins Jahr 1309.

(22) Vasari I, 576. Vgl. auch Kugler, Gesch. D. Baukunst, III, 1859, 553. Obwohl für Taddeo bisher kein einziges Bauwerk urkundlich bezeugt ist, kommt dieser Maler, Giottos Lieblingschüler, m. E. für den Entwurf von Or S. Michele in Betracht, weil der Baugedanke dem Dom-Campanile Giottos ganz nahe steht.

(23) Als erster schreib Gelli – um die Mitte des 16. Jahrhunderts – Or San Michele dem Orcagna zu (vgl. Steinweg, Orcagna, 1929, 10, 44). Teile des Baues hielt auch Del Migliore für Orcagnas Werk (1684, 531; Seinweg, 44). Die Meinung Vasaris, Arnolfo habe die erste Halle von Or San Michele gebaut, Taddeo Gaddi aber die zweite, suchte Richa mit Del Migliores Meinung zu versöhnen, indem er schrieb, Arnolfo, Taddeo und Orcagna hätten nacheinander an Or San Michele gearbeitet. Gaye versuchte eine Bestätigung der Annahme, Orcagna habe einen Anteil am Bau von Or San Michele genannt wird (I, 1839, 52), wozu auch die Tatsache stimmt, daß Orcagna sich selbst in der 1359 datierten Inschrift am Tabernakel von Or San Michele „Oratorii archimagister“ nannte. Doch meinten andere Schriftsteller des 19. Jahrhunderts, dem Meister könne nur ein Teil des Bauwerkes zugeschrieben werden, und zwar vor allem das Füllwerk der großen Arkaden: Fantozzi, Guida, 1842, 309; Perkins, Tuscan Sculptors, I, 1863, 79; ähnlich auch Burckhardt, Cicerone, 1855, 576; Kugler, Gesch. d. Baukunst, III, 1859, 353; Schnaase, Geschichte der Bildenden Künste im Mittelalter, V, 1876, 183. Doch wies Passerini dann urkundlich nach, daß diese Füllungen von Simone di Francesco Talenti stammten (Seinweg, Orcagna, 1929, 45). Frey folgerte daraus, Orcagna habe in seiner Eigenschaft als Capomaestro nichts mit dem Bau selbst zu tun gehabt, sondern nur mit dessen Dekoration, wie etwa der gleichfalls Capomaestro gennante Steinmetz Giovanni di Fetto am Dom (Loggia Die Lanzi, 1885, 104). Ich füge noch hinzu: vielleicht war mit „Oratorium“ nicht die Kirche, sondern nur das Tabernakel des Gnadenbildes gemeint? Die Halle selbst war ja zu Orcagnas Zeiten noch nicht Oratorium, sondern Getreidenmarkt. Jedenfallas hat Klara Steinweg recht, wenn sie aus stilkritischen Gründen eine Beteiligung Orcagnas am Bau ablehnt (a. a. O. 45). Für diese Ablehnung hat Tosi, Boll. d’A. XXVII, 1934, 514 ff. inzwischen einen bündigen Beweis erbracht.

(24) Neri di Fioravanti und Francesco Talenti wurden zuerst von Franceschini in Betracht gezogen (Or S. Michele, 1892, 25).

Neri di Fioravanti hatte zwölf Jahre nach dem Baubeginn Beziehungen zur Bauhütte von Or San Michele; das läßt sich urkundlich belegen: 1349/51 leitete er zusammen mit Benci di Cione den Neubau von S. Michele Vecchio (S. Carlo Borromeo I; vgl. Band II, 418, Anm. 5), und dieser Neubau unterstand den Vorstehern der Laudesi-Bruderschaft von Or San Michele, ja er wurde höchstwahrscheinlich von deren eigener Bauhütte nebenher mit besorgt; Benci leitete außerdem um 1366 die Errichtung der oberen Teile von Or San Michele (vgl. unten). Neri hat also wahrscheinlich und Benci sicher später der Bauhütte von Or San Michele angehört. Doch unterscheiden sich die Bauteile, die die beiden Meister 1340-46 im Großen Saal des Bargello­Palastes ausführten (Paatz, Mitt. Inst. Florenz, III, 1931, 311-14), ziemlich von den Motiven von Or San Michele; die derben Formen der Wandpfeiler und des Fensters im Saal haben gar nichts mit ihnen gemeinsam, und die Gewölbekonstruktion verwendet im Saal zwar auch den Rundbogen (für die Diagonalrippen), aber daneben noch den Spitzbogen (für die Schildbögen). Bei dieser Lage der Dinge möchte ich die Möglichkeit in Betracht ziehen, daß Neri und Benci für Or San Michele {wie z. B. auch nachweislich für den Dom und seinen Campanile) allenfalls als Steinmetzen oder höchstens als Bauführer gearbeitet haben, nicht aber als Schöpfer des Entwurfs. Eine sichere Entscheidung wird sich freilich erst treffen lassen, wenn der Baustil der beiden Meister, der z. Z. noch nicht individuell faßbar geworden ist, besser bekannt sein wird. - Über eine Beziehung, die Or San Michele mit einem von Tone di Giovanni errichteten Teil des Bargello-Palastes verbindet, vgl. unten Anm. 71 (Schluß).

Francesco Talenti wird zwar von den Urkunden nicht im Zusammenhang mit Or San Michele erwähnt; dennoch kommt er als Schöpfer des Baugedankens von Or San Michele mit in Betracht. Denn er schuf die Pfeiler und Raumverhältnisse des Langhauses von S. Maria del Fiore (vgl. Band III, S. 330/31 und S. 445 f. Anm. 66 und 67), und er ging dabei von den entsprechenden Motiven von Or San Michele aus; diese Überzeugung ist seit Franceschini allgemein verbreitet. Siebenhüner hat es deshalb sogar gewagt, Or San Michele dem Francesco Talenti zuzuschreiben (Thieme-Becker XXXII, 1938, 415). Ob diese Meinung die Frage endgültig beantwortet, muß abgewartet werden. Gegen sie ließe sich anführen, daß sich bei einem Vergleich zwischen Or San Michele und dem Dom-Langhaus außer den Übereinstimmungen auch wesentliche Unterschiede ergeben: im Dom findet sich statt des Rundbogens, der in Or San Michele vorherrscht, wieder der Spitzbogen; auch sind die Proportionen der Dom-Pfeiler weniger ausgeglichen; der Dom wirkt überhaupt in jeder Beziehung weniger harmonisch und dafür dynamischer, herber und karger. Man mag diese Unterschiede aus dem zeitlichen Abstand zwischen den beiden Bauten erklären; Talentis Dom-Langhaus entstand erst seit 1357 ff., also volle zwanzig Jahre nach dem Baubeginn von Or San Michele; man könnte auch versuchen, sie durch den Hinweis begreiflich zu machen, daß Talenti beim Dombau zuweilen nachweislich die Wünsche anderer Künstler und Kunstrichter zu berücksichtigen hatte (vgl. Band III, S. 449, Anm. 67, Schluß). Die Frage, ob die besagten Unterschiede ernstlich gegen die Zuschreibung von Or San Michele an Talenti ins Gewicht fallen oder nicht, wird zuverlässig erst beantwortet werden können, wenn es der Forschung gelingen sollte, die Persönlichkeit Talentis und die Umrisse seiner Kunst klarer herauszuarbeiten.

Jacopo Talenti, den Franceschini auch in Betracht zieht (Or S. Michele 1892, 25), scheidet meines Erachtens aus, weil seine Baugedanken (vgl. unter S. Maria Novella) mit Or San Michele zwar die Grundrichtung gemeinsam haben, aber auch nicht mehr.

Andrea Pisano kommt ebensowenig in Betracht: sein Anteil am Campanile von S. Maria del Fiore hat stilistisch gar nichts mit Or San Michele zu tun.

(25) Urkunde bei Gaye I, 1839, 46 f.

(26) Urkunde bei Gaye I, 1839, 46/47 f. - Im Jahre 1340 waren bereits zwei Pfeiler mit Tabernakeln und Statuen versehen, und ein dritter sollte gerade denselben Schmuck erhalten (Urkunde bei Frey-Vasari I, 1911, 379). Genaueres siehe unter Ausstattung, S. 491.

(27) Urkunde bei Gaye I, 1839, 51.

(28) Vgl. unter Ausstattung, St. Annenaltar; ferner Marrai, Riv. d’A. VI; 1909, 251. - Vgl. auch weiter unten unter 1366.

(29) Urkunde bei Gaye I, 1839, 51.-Vgl. auch Matteo Villani, Cron., Buch I, Kap. 57, und Franceschini, Or S. Michele, 1892, 44.

(30) Urkunde bei Gaye I, 1839, 52. - Daß damal ein Ahschluß erreicht wurde, geht deutlich aus einer Urkunde vom 14. November 1358 hervor: damals wandte die Bruderschaft von Or San Michele ihre Einkünfte anderen Zwecken zu, da ihr eigener Bau vollendet war (Guasti, S. Maria del Fiore, 1887, 132 f.); es wird sich dabei vermutlich um die Kirche handeln, nicht um das Gnadenbild-Tabernakel, denn dieses war 1359/60 noch in Arbeit (vgl. unter Ausstattung).

(31) Urkunde bei Gaye, I, 1839, 513.

(32) Urkunde bei Franceschini, Or S. Michele, 1892, 57. - Vgl. auch Gaye I, 1839, 53.

(33) Urkunde bei Franceschini, Or S. Michele, 1892, 58; Del Badia, Misc. fior., 1902, 31. - Die Erinnerung an diesen Vorgang hat sich bis ins 17. Jahrh. erhalten: vgl. Del Migliore, 1684, 532.

(34) Urkunde bei Franceschini, Or S. Michele, 1892, 95.

(35) Urkunde bei Franceschini, a. a. O., 58, und Del Badia, Misc. fior., II 1902 31. - Siebenhüner, Thieme-Becker XXXII, 1938, 416; welche Bogenfüllungen mit den Probestücken identisch sind, ist unbekannt; der Entwurf dazu scheint 1366 entstanden zu sein.

(36) Urkunde bei Poggi, Or S. Michele, 1895, 39-45.

(37) Urkunden bei Poggi, a. a. 0. 45.

(38) Franceschini (a. a. O. 36) begründete diese Ansetzung mit dem Stil der Reliefs, die in diesen Backsteinwänden enthalten sind; diese Reliefs wurden jedoch schon vorher für eine andere Verwendung geschaffen (vgl. unter Ausstattung, S. 491). Da eines von ihnen gelegentlich der Einmauerung zur Vervollständigung des Zyklus nachträglich zugefügt wurde und als ein Jugendwerk des Nanni di Banco gilt, könnte man sich versucht fühlen, die Schließung der Arkaden erst um 1400 anzusetzen. Doch scheint mir die Einsetzung von Fenstern, die 1380 erfolgte (vgl. oben), die Schließung der Arkaden bereits vorauszusetzen.

(39) Vgl. Foll.-Rastr. VI, 1795, 170 f.; vgl. auch Anm. 50.

(40) Urkunden bei Poggi, Or S. Michele, 1895, 43 ff. und Franceschini, Or S. Michele, 1892, 69. - An den Prunkfenstern bestehen die Säulchen aus Marmor.

(41) Urkunden bei Poggi a. a. 0. 43.

(42) Urkunden bei Franceschini, a. a. O. 64, 76.

(43) Urkunden bei La Sorsa, La Compagnia di Or San Michele, 1902, 60, 63, 269.

(44) Urkunde bei Franceschini a. a. 0., 71/72.

(45) Wahrscheinlich stammen die Portale zum größten Teil von Lamberti. So Milanesi-Vasari II, 142; Fabriczy, Arch. Stor. Ital. 1902. Reymond, Riv. d’A. I, 1904, 245 ff.; Gottschewski-Vasari, III, 18. Urkunden bei Procacci, II Vasari, I, 1927/28, 304 ff. (auf S. 308 ein Verzeichnis der an dieser Arbeit beteiligten Steinmetzen). 1380 hatte Ghoro Nicolai ebenfalls am Hauptportal gearbeitet, vgl. Poggi, Or S. Michele, 1895, 44. - Semper, Donatello, 1887, 9, 10 nimmt vier Prophetenstatuetten für Lamberti in Anspruch; über diese Serie vgl. aber Anm. 74.

(46) Richa I, 1754, 24; Foll.-Rastr. VI, 1795, 171/72.

(47) Mazzanti-Del Lungo, Raccolta etc., 1876, 32.

(48) Lapini, Diario, ed. Corazzini, 1900, 13 und 166.

(49) Richa I, 1754, 28.

(50) Foll.-Rastr. VI, 1795, 170, 171. Über den Zustand, der bis dahin bestand, unterrichtet die Innenansicht von Or S. Michele, die Poccetti auf einem Fresko im Kreuzgang von S. Marco malte (Foto Brogi 2748, der junge Antonin betend in Or S. Michele). Danach war die untere Hälfte des mittleren Feldes als Tür offen geblieben, die obere dagegen bereits vermauert.

(51) Franceschini, Or S. Michele, 1892, 104.

(52) Vgl. vorige Anmerkung. Sie waren sehr verwittert.

(53) A. e st. XX, 1901, 95.

(54) Urkunde in Geschichte von Florenz, I, 1896, 91.

(55) So beschrieben von einem Schriftsteller, der diesen Bau noch mit eigenen Augen gesehen haben muß, dem chronisten „Pseudo Brunetto Latini“‘ vgl. Hartwig, Quellen und Forschungen zur älteren Geschichte der Stadt Florenz, II, 1880, 230, — Vasaris Beschreibung (I, 284) geht wohl auf Giovanni Villani, Cron., Buch XI, Kap. 67 zurück und verwechselt die zweite Halle mit der ersten. Auch die Rekonstruktion von Frey, Loggia dei Lanzi, 1885, 59 läßt sich gegenüber der bestimmten Quellenangabe nicht halten. Ricorando Malespini, der die Halle von 1285 entehen sah, nennt die Loggia „una opera allora molto bella“ (Historia antica, ed. 1568, 172).

(56) Statut der Laudesi-Bruderschaft. Siehe La Sorsa, La Compagnia di Or S. Michele, 1902, 189.

(57) Urkunde bei Gaye, I, 1839, 48.

(58) So beschrieben von Giovanni Villani, Cron., Buch XI, Kap. 67, der das Gebäude noch mit eigenen Augen gesehen haben muß.