Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Don Vincenzio Borghini

Federico Zuccaro (c.1542 - 1609)
Vincenzo Borghini
Black and red chalk on paper
147 millimetres x  92 millimetres
The British Museum, London

Alessandro Allori (1535 – 22 September 1607)
Detail showing portraits of Isidor Montauto und Vincenzo Borghini (right)
From Scenes of the Old and New Testaments: Christ among the Doctors
Santissima Annunziata, Florence

Don Vincenzio Borghini (1515-1580) was a learned Benedictine cleric from an old and distinguished Florentine family

He entered the Badia as a Benedictine postulant in 1531. In 1537 he became deacon. He was ordained in 1541

He was a friend and adviser of  Giorgio Vasari from the 1540s onward, 

Borghini is best known in Florence as the spedalingo (Prior) of the Ospedale degli Innocenti (from 1552) (a charity institution that was responsible for the welfare of abandoned children) and the luogotenente of the Accademia del Disegno (from 1563). 

As regards the Accademia, he helped frame the constitution

Borghini also had a close connection with Alessandro Allori. With Borghini, Allori became involved in a number of projects relating to Florence’s recently formed (1563) Accademia del Disegno

These included preparation of the decorations for the funeral of Michelangelo in 1564 and for the marriage the following year of Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici’s son, Francesco (later Francesco I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany) to Joanna of Austria.

He was also an important artistic adviser to the Medici, furnishing the subjects for many decorative cycles and devising the programmes for numerous ephemeral  public festivals

Here we see the Duke Cosimo`s letter to him about the funeral of Michelangelo:

Letter of Duke Cosimo I to Borghini re Exequies due to Michelangelo
Archives of the  Ospedale degli Innocenti, Florence

The obsequies honouring Michelangelo were lavish and  held at the church of San Lorenzo usually reserved for princes. Angelo Bronzino, Giorgio Vasari, Benvenuto Cellini and Bartolomeo Ammanati decorated the church and the catafalque. 

The chapels were cloaked in black, dramatically highlighting the nave, and the catafalque was surmounted by a pyramidal obelisk which bore bas-relief sculptures of Michelangelo. 

Ammanati's wife, the renowned Italian poetess, Laura Battiferra Ammanati, composed verses for the occasion 

Varchi wrote and delivered the principal oration. 

Other orations were delivered by  Giovan Maria Tarsia  and Lionardo Salviati

It was a civic and political canonisation

Bernardino Poccetti (Bernardo Barbatelli) 1548 - 1612 was another artist who had close connections with Borghini. At 22 he was admitted to the Compagnia di San Luca and later the Accademia del Disegno

Of his own works, they are mainly written but he could turn a hand:

Don Vincenzio Borghini (1515-1580)
Geroglifico delle Grazie
Pen and ink on paper
Biblioteca Nazionale, Florence

Of his published works he is known for a bowdlerised edition of Boccaccio`s Decameron when it was placed on the Index. However even the bowdlerised edition of 1573 was not enough as his edition was also eventually placed on the Index

He is best known for his two volume Discorsi di M. Vincenzo Borghini printed at Florence 1584 and 1585 which discusses the origins of the city of Florence and the Florentines

A few years before his death he was offered the Archbishopric of Pisa which out of humility he declined

He died in 1580 and in accordance with his wishes was buried before the high altar in the Church of the Ospedale degli Innocenti 

He made his will in June 1574. A copy of the Last Will is in the Archives of Florence. A copy is also on  the excellent website on the Carnesecchi family from which the following extracts about his soul and burial are taken. He may have been political, wealthy and a Medici  Florentine through and through but always a humble Christian.

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