Artibus et Historiae no. 64 (XXXII)

2011, ISSN 0391-9064

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MAURO DI VITO - Botanical and Zoological Symbolism in Giorgio Vasari’s Paintings

Vasari was a refined artist of the Cinquecento, who – after the restrictions imposed by Savonarola during the Republican period – rediscovered nature in his paintings. While scientists and collectors of his time investigated nature for taxonomical reasons, Vasari examined plant and animal symbolism with a deep political and emblematic purpose. For example, the amphibious turtle depicted in the Room of the Elements in Palazzo Vecchio is an imaginary animal, celebrating Cosimo de’ Medici’s power on land and sea. In the Siege of Monteriggioni (Salone dei Cinquecento) a flowered plant of mullein (Verbascum) serves as an apotropaic amulet for the protection of artillerists and Florentine soldiers.

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