– Paolo Lazzari –
If your name is Michelangelo Buonarroti and it is the summer of 1530, know that things could be much better. The reason? simple. You’ve been huddled here, in this room that looks more like a rat hole, for something like three months. “Here”, by the way, would be the basement of the basilica of San Lorenzo, in the belly of Florence.
Why did an artist of your caliber ever get into such a situation? The question is composite, but time to spend to revisit it in all its folds, a lot, you have. For months now, the troops of Charles V swan of siege Florence, with the announced goal of bringing the Medici back to the city, hunted two years ago. Their biggest sponsor? Pope Clement VII, coincidentally, a member of the Medici family.
When you start to smell the attack, the decision was quick: Malatesta Baglioni he has put himself at the head of a militia to repel the invaders and you have been appointed general commissioner for the fortifications which, in difficult times, must be used to make a virtue of necessity. So it was immediately clear that by accepting the task of preparing new defensive systems for the city walls, you are openly siding in favor of republican ideals. A decision that, if the Medici really return to the city, could cost you dearly.
So here’s the reason: from June to August, fearing possible retaliation, you hid. The cramped closet it is located right under the sacristy: a place you know known, because a few years ago you followed this construction site yourself.
Seven meters by two, the air as thick as a finger of butter and a trickle of peach-colored light that, when inspected, reluctantly inspects the environment. Let me tell you, not exactly the best in life. And time you have to pass it, somehow. So you did one thing. The one that belongs to you the most. You have challenged a charcoal and you began to arabesque the walls of your oppressive refuge. In some cases you write down sketches and anatomical sketches which, later on, will become finished works.
You still don’t know, but those drawings will only be discovered in four centuries, in 1975, during the works to create the emergency exits from the Medici chapels. How did they keep it so long? Thanks to you. For fear that someone might find traces of your presence in Florence, you covered everything with a white lead that has preserved the works from humidity. Touché. Three months of captivity are sometimes worth a lifetime: Pope Clement VII, in fact, will forgive you and ask you to continue working for the Medici, who in the meantime have returned to Florence.
There remains only the bitter aftertaste of not being able to admire the small room: the Supervision in fact, he declared it inaccessible, because a massive influx of visitors would risk damaging the drawings on the walls forever.