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Buontalenti delle Girandole, Bernardo

Buontalenti delle Girandole, Bernardo (1531–1608). Florentine architect who also painted and sculpted, as well as designed masques, pyrotechnics (Girandole means a Catherine-wheel), and other amusements for his patrons, the Medici Grand Dukes. His Mannerist detailing is best seen at the idio-syncratic Porta delle Suppliche in the Uffizi, Florence (1580)—where a broken segmental pediment has its scrolls reversed to form a wing-like element supporting the bust of Duke Cosimo—and at the new altar-steps for Santa Trinità (1574–6) now in Santo Stefano—where the trompe l'œil carved steps are unusable, and the real stairs were placed, invisible, on each side. The fantastic grottoes he designed for the Bóboli Gardens (1583–8), where pumice-stone encrustations submerge the entrance, and the interior, with its hidden sources of light and its eerie figures, are a tour-de-force of theatrical effects. He created the Tribuna in the Uffizi (1574–89), the decorations and lavish gardens at the Medici villa at Pratolino (destroyed), and the Casino Mediceo (Casino di San Marco), Florence (1574). Much more restrained is the façade of Santa Trinità (1593–4), with four Giant pilasters carrying an entablature, over which is a pedimented Attic-storey flanked by scrolls. Elegant and simple too is the Fortezza di Belvedere (1590s) set high on a hill to protect the Pitti Palace. Buontalenti designed and built fortifications, engineering works, and a canal. His designs for Mannerist distorted and melting mask decorations anticipate Auricular ornament.

Bibliography

Berti (1967);
Botto (1968);
Dizionario biografico degli italiani (1972);
Fara (1979, 1988, 1990)

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