By Costanza Belrami

Florentine apothecary and diarist Luca Landucci was buried on 2 June 1516. Landucci was not a professional artist, yet had a keen interest in art. For this reason, the diary he left us is a treasure trove of evidence regarding art and artist in Renaissance Florence.

Landucci’s diary covers the period 1450-1515 and opens with a list of notable inhabitants of Florence. The list features several architects: Donatello, Desiderio da Settignano, Andrea del Castagno, Bernardo Rossellino, Antonio Pollaiuolo and Piero Pollaiuolo. Later entries record art-world events such as the unveiling of completed decorative programmes or the sale of important art collections.

For example, on 30 September 1487 Landucci described the Reliquary of Saint Jerome, on special display in the Duomo. On 20 August 1489 he crossed the road from his apothecary shop at Canto de’ Tornaquinci to describe the building project of Palazzo Strozzi. The following winter (22 December 1490), he recorded the unveiling of Domenico Ghirlandaio’s frescoes in the newly redecorated Tornabuoni Chapel in Santa Maria Novella, a work which impressed him for its great cost. Five year later (11 August 1495) he described the sale of Piero I de’ Medici’s collection, and the subsequent relocation of Donatello’s David and Judith and Holofernes from Piero’s palace to the Palazzo Vecchio. On 14 May 1505 Another David, the one sculpted by Michelangelo, was transported to the Piazza della Signoria, a technical feat that Landucci describes in detail.

In addition to being a keen observer of the art-world, Landucci was also an amateur architect: in the early sixteenth century he submitted designs for the reconstruction of the Church of San Giovanni Evangelista to prominent contemporary artists such as Cronaca (Simone del Pollaiuolo) and Giovanni Cellini (father of the more famous Benvenuto Cellini), but he never received a reply and the project came to nothing.

Here you can read an English translation of Landucci’s diary.

Reference: “Landucci, Luca.” Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press,

Antonio di Salvi, St Jerome Reliquary, 1487, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence. Source: Opificio delle Pietre Dure.

Cronaca, Palazzo Strozzi: Façade and right side, 1489-1503, Piazza degli Strozzi, Florence. Source: Web Gallery of Art.

View along the nave of Santa Maria Novella to the Tornabuoni Chapel. Source: Web Gallery of Art.

Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1486-90, fresco, Cappella Tornabuoni, Santa Maria Novella, Florence. Source: Web Gallery of Art.

Donatello, David, 1430s, bronze, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence. Source: Web Gallery of Art.

Donatello, Judith and Holofernes, 1455-60, bronze, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. Source: Web Gallery of Art.

Michelangelo, David, 1504, marble, Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence. Source: Web Gallery of Art.

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