Under the Tuscan Sun

Aug 19, 2021

when Renaissance started

Perhaps you have wondered what was the first Renaissance building in the world?

It is not a church, or a palace, but it is the “Spedale degli Innocenti” in Florence, designed by the genius Brunelleschi (his first public commission), and also the first orphanage in the world.

The work was financed by a secular institution, the Arte della Lana and built on privately owned land by Rinaldo degli Albizi.

Construction began on 19 August, in 1419, probably under a hot sun similar to that of today.

The external portico is made up of nine bays (the same number of steps) with ribbed vaults, i.e. domes with a square base. Both the loggia and the internal cloister are characterized by a precise geometry: the chord of the arch is equal to the height of the columns and the depth of the portico, while the overlying arch is exactly half of this measure (10 Florentine arms, approximately 5.84 meters).

The “innocent” children (a surname still very common in Florence) who for various reasons were abandoned by their mothers and fathers, were welcomed by the nuns who raised and trained them.
After dealing with abandoned children for centuries, today the Istituto degli Innocenti is a public service company (ASP) and is active on many fronts: it hosts a kindergarten, a Documentation Center, a UNESCO research center and also a Museum.

Over the centuries, in fact, the hospital has been enriched with numerous artworks, thanks to direct commissions, donations and acquisitions from other institutions, although, around the middle of the nineteenth century, part of the artworks were sold to provide for economic recovery.

In 2016 the last installation, to which ArtTest gave a small contribution with the diagnostic analyzes on a copy, probably the oldest, of the Madonna del Velo by Raphael, carried out on the occasion of the restoration.

The MUDI Museum is also open on Mondays, the closing day of almost all others museums.

Visit it and let yourself be involved by the stories of many children, their nurses and their families (when found), and by the beautiful works on display, by artists of the caliber of Botticelli and Domenico del Ghirlandaio, among others.