At the Bargello, the first-ever portrait of Dante
Until 8 August an exhibition in the ancient Palazzo del Podestà recounts the relationship between the great poet and Florence
"This Dante was an honourable and ancient citizen of Florence from Porta San Piero, and our neighbour; and his exile from Florence was due to the fact that when Sir Charles of Valos of the House of France came to Florence in the year MCCCI and expelled the white party, as has been mentioned above, the said Dante was one of the greatest governors of our city and of that party, even if he was a Guelph; However, without any other fault, he was expelled and banished from Florence with the white party, and went to the Studio in Bologna, and then to Paris, and to other parts of the world"
These words by the Florentine historian and merchant Giovanni Villani introduce us to the exhibition Honourable and Ancient Citizen of Florence. Il Bargello per Dante (The Bargello for Dante), the exhibition that the Museo Nazionale del Bargello is dedicating to the great poet until 8 August in the year in which the seventh centenary of his death is celebrated.
The exhibition is divided into six sections: 1. The places of condemnation, the time of redemption; 2. Dante and the Comedy in Florence in the 1430s and 1840s; 3. Artists and copyists of the Comedy; 4. Reading Dante in Florence; 5. The construction of memory; 6. The documentary language in Florence after Dante - is dedicated to the reconstruction of the relationship between Dante and Florence, from the years immediately following the poet's death to the 1850s, presenting the actors, initiatives, places and themes.
The Bargello National Museum is the Dante site par excellence in Florence and the ideal venue for the exhibition tracing the complex relationship between Dante and his home city: In the Sala dell'Udienza of the then Palazzo del Podestà (today the Salone di Donatello), on 10 March 1302, the supreme poet was condemned to definitive exile; in the adjacent Cappella del Podestà, only a few years later (between 1333 and 1337), Giotto, with his school, imposed his last pictorial masterpiece, still little known to the general public, and portrayed Dante's face for the first time, including him among the ranks of the elect in Paradise. It was around this portrait, the first known effigy of the father of the Italian language, that the process of memory building was outlined, which would allow Florence to regain possession of the work and the figure of Dante. The Chapel, where the frescoed face is located, an integral part of the exhibition itinerary, has recently been the subject of a diagnostic and conservation maintenance operation on some parts of the Paradise.