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Entrance of Orsanmichele

Orsanmichele (Italian pronunciation: ) (or "Kitchen Garden of St. Michael", from the contraction in Tuscan dialect of the Italian word orto) is a church in the Italian city of Florence. The building was constructed on the site of the kitchen garden of the monastery of San Michele, which is now gone.

Located on the Via Calzaiuoli in Florence, the church was originally built as a grain market[1] in 1337 by Francesco Talenti, Neri di Fioravante, and Benci di Cione. Between 1380 and 1404 it was converted into a church used as the chapel of Florence's powerful craft and trade guilds. On the ground floor of the square building are the 13th-century arches that originally formed the loggia of the grain market. The second floor was devoted to offices, while the third housed one of the city's municipal grain storehouses, maintained to withstand famine or siege.[1] Late in the 14th century, the guilds were charged by the city to commission statues of their patron saints to embellish the facades of the church.[1] The sculptures seen today are copies, the originals having been removed to museums (see below).


  • Interior 1
  • Exterior 2
  • Modern assessment 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Inside the church is Andrea Orcagna's bejeweled Gothic Tabernacle (1355-59) encasing a repainting by Bernardo Daddi's of an older icon of the 'Madonna and Child'.[2]


The facades held 14 architecturally designed external niches, which were filled from 1399 to around 1430. The three richest guilds opted to make their figures in the far more costly bronze, which cost approximately ten times the amount of the stone figures.

Niche Statue Sculptor Guild Year Notes
Madonna of the Rose Pietro di Giovanni Tedesco Medici e Speziali
(doctors and apothecaries)
Quattro Santi Coronati
(Four Crowned Martyrs or Four Saints)
Nanni di Banco Maestri di Pietra e Legname
(wood and stone workers)
1408 [3][4]
St. Mark Donatello Arte dei Linaiuoli e Rigattieri
(linen-weavers and peddlers)
1411 [5][6]
St. Philip Nanni di Banco Arte dei Calzaiuoli
1412-14 [7][8]
Christ and St. Thomas Andrea del Verrocchio Tribunale di Mercanzia
1467-83 Replaced St. Louis of Toulouse by Donatello (1413)[9][10][11]
St. Eligius Nanni di Banco Arte dei Maniscalchi
St. James Niccolò di Piero Lamberti Arte dei Pellicciai
1415 Attribution and year are uncertain
St. Peter Filippo Brunelleschi Arte dei Beccai
St. John the Baptist Lorenzo Ghiberti Arte di Calimala
(The Guild of Merchants of Calimala)
1414-16 [12]
St. George Donatello Arte dei Corazzai
1416 [13][14]
St. Matthew Lorenzo Ghiberti Arte del Cambio
1419-20 [15][16]
St. Stephen Lorenzo Ghiberti Arte della Lana
(wool manufacturers)
1428 [17]
St. John the Evangelist Baccio da Montelupo Arte della Seta
(silk merchants)
St. Luke Giambologna Giudici e Notai
(magistrates and notaries)
1601 [18]

Modern assessment

Interior of Orsanmichele

Orsanmichele's statuary is a relic of the fierce devotion and pride of Florentine trades, and a reminder that great art often arises out of a competitive climate. Each trade hoped to outdo the other in commissioning original, groundbreaking sculptures for public display on Florence's most important street, and the artists hired and materials used (especially bronze) indicate the importance that was placed on this site.

Today, all of the original sculptures have been removed and replaced with modern duplicates to protect them from the elements and vandalism.[19] The originals mainly reside in the museum of Orsanmichele, which occupies the upper floor of the church, and can be seen on every Monday, the only day when the museum is open. Two works by Bargello, and St. Louis of Toulouse is in the museum of the Basilica di Santa Croce.


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External video
Orsanmichele, Smarthistory
  • Campbell. 2011. Italian Renaissance art. Farnborough: Thames & Hudson Ltd.

External links

  • Museums in Florence - Orsanmichele Church and Museum
  • The Orsanmichele Museum
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