The Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio is currently home to an allegorical portrait of Dante Alighieri by Agnolo Bronzino. Set to be on display from February 12 to May 31, the exhibition was curated by Antonio Natali and Sergio Risaliti as part of events to mark the 700th anniversary of the Supreme Poet. Promoted by the Municipality of Florence and created in collaboration with MUS.E, the painting now forms part of the museum itinerary for the following months.
The history of this lunette is recounted by Giorgio Vasari in the ‘Life of Bronzino’. Vasari indicates that the oil on canvas dates to 1532-33 and was commissioned alongside portraits of Petrarch and Boccaccio to decorate a room in the house of the cultured Florentine banker Bartolomeo Bettini. Of the three portraits commissioned from Bronzino, only Dante’s has survived to this day.
In a press release, Mayor Dario Nardella stated, “In the year of the 700th anniversary, Palazzo Vecchio hosts, among the very first celebrations, this portrait of the Supreme Poet by Agnolo Bronzino. It’s an exhibition that not only wants to pay homage to Dante through the art of another great Florentine artist, but also to bring the illustrious yet reviled in exile citizen back to the home of the Florentines. Therefore, it’s an exhibition that aims to be a sort of reconciliation with the city”.
“Seeing the Portrait of Dante painted by Bronzino here in the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, exhibited with the prominence that in ancient times the Romans reserved for the noblest and most authoritative ancestors in their homes, one has the feeling that this is his proper place” explains Antonio Natali. “It’s like realizing Dante’s dream of being celebrated with full honors at home. A dream that Dante expresses in the first lines of the 25th canto of Paradiso, precisely those transcribed by Bronzino in the book held by the poet”.