Friday, October 9, 2009

Secret Michelangelo!

Today I saw the Michelangelo fresco sketches! Tom and I met my renowned fresco teacher Lorenzo at 7:35am and then we walked the block away from the restoration labs to the Capella Medici. Lorenzo Casamenti has been played a large part in restoration here in Florence over the years. He has no family, but he is like a wonderful loving grandfather to everyone, his only true love being art I suppose. He has helped restore many of the frescoes that were damaged during the large flood Florence had many years back, and he continues to be a presence here and elsewhere in the world for restoration. When we walk with him down the street, people know him, and respond to him very fondly. I would really like to take this time to thank him once again from the bottom of my heart for taking me to see these special sketches. Grazie mile Lorenzo!
Anyway, so we enter the Capella Medici (which is right across from this great sandwich place where you can get any five items on some great bread for only 3,50 euro! Stuff like eggplant, peccorino cheese, sundried tomatoes, pear, artichoke, smoked beef, turkey, anything!)We passed large spacious rooms with artwork hanging, and sculptures and elaborate relequaries. We passed the absolutely astounding Chapel inside- the stone inlay was absolutely incredibly, and the frescoed dome ceiling was stunning. We walked further into the building, past a room full of Michelangelo sculptures. We then entered this little room that looked like a broom closet was a long narrow wooden door on the floor. Lorenzo opened it up, and there were stairs leading down to this secret room! The secret room was long and had a rounded ceiling and one tiny window. All over the walls were sketches in charcoal done on wet plaster- Michelangelo sketches! One was of a statue he carved later which is actually in the Capella Medici that the public can see. Another was a sketch for the Sistine chapel. Mike was in Florence for around 3 weeks at this point because the Pope had made him so angry that he abandoned the Sistine chapel project, but then things smoothed out and he went back to work. The greatest sketch though was of two faces, above a beautiful almost full figure of a man, and they were really ugly cartoon looking people with big noses. I like to think maybe Mike didn't really care for the Medici family because they dictated everything in Florence like the Pope did in Rome, and maybe he was making fun of them by drawing cartoons. It just warmed my heart that the master had a sense of humor, and wasn't always serious. So I got to touch the sketches because fresco, once hardened, is very resistant to all sorts of things, so I could touch the charcoal marks and they wouldn't go anywhere. It was kind of like if you got to touch Jesus' robes... yeah, for an artist, it was kind of like that. I was overwhelmed. It was just so revealing of the man himself, and I felt transported. Lorenzo said that he and a team of other restoration experts uncovered this room about 30 years ago. They used to let the public in, but then the director decided it was too risky, what with everyone touching the walls, eventually the oils of their hands would hurt it. Even Colin Powell wanted to see it, but he had a team of about 30 other people, so the director told him it was under restoration. Colin Powell doesn't get to see it, but I get to. I was so happy.


  1. Wow Em! That sounds quite amazing and lucky you! Sounds like you're learning fresco from the right person.

  2. I too was able to see the drawings as my wife's mother has a friend who works for the museums in Florence. Even though I'm no artist, being able to see history come alive like that was one of the highlights of my life!