Laurentian Library. Michaelangelo

The Library is a perfect demonstration of Mannerism in Michelangelo’s architectural projects.

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The Laurentian Library, is an historical library designed and constructed by Michelangelo. In 1525, the construction began in Florence, Italy, at the cloister of the Medicean Basilica di San Lorenzo di Firenze. It was sponsored by Medici Pope, Clement VII.

The main purpose of this building was to emphasize to the public that the Medici family belonged to an intellectual and ecclesiastical society.

The library holds 11,000 manuscripts and 4,500 early printed books.
The library is considered one of the most important works of Michelangelo. The distribution of the windows, the ceiling and the vestibule are marvelous. Undoubtedly, once inside a sense of boldness and refinement can be identified. The Library is a perfect demonstration of Mannerism in Michelangelo’s architectural approach.

The vestibule is 19.50m x 20.30m x 14.60m (64′ x 67′. x 48′) with incorporated clerestories on the west wall, which were added after Clement VII rejected Michelangelo’s idea for a skylight. Inside the vestibule there are Pietra Serena framed tampering windows mounted on three-sided segmental pediments separated by constrained columns.

The design of the stairs changed dramatically under the command of Ammannati. The stairs were originally fixed against the wall, however, a year later, the stairs were moved to the middle of the vestibule taking at least half of the room floor. Nevertheless, this magnificent stair leads the visitor towards the reading room. The central flights are convex and vary in width as they go down. To each side of the central treads, there are straight flights taking you down, dividing the stair into three segments.

One of the most important rooms inside the library is the reading room. The space is 46.20 meters long x 10.50 meters wide and 8.4 meters high (152 by 35 by 28 feet). The room is divided in three sections, two blocks of reading seats on the sides and a central aisle for circulation. The reading seats were specifically side placed to receive light from the adjacent windows. The windows are mounted over pilasters, establishing an organization of bays that define the room’s ceiling and floor.

Even though the Laurentian Library was designed by Michelangelo, 
only the walls of the reading room where totally complete under his command. The completion of the project was done by Tribolo, Basari and Ammannati.
1525
Library
Michelangelo
Everyday 9:00am – 1:00pm.
Texts, photographs and diagrams by Michelle Chedraui.