Dante and the Commedy in Santa Maria del Fiore
THE CENTENARIES, DANTE, FLORENCE AND THE COMMEDIA
The celebrations for the centenary commemoration are not a prerogative of our times, which, if anything, overindulge in anniversaries rich in events. Even in normal times the government makes little money available to the culture industry, so if one did not take advantage of these opportunities it would languish. Maybe it would be up to those who manage the money to spend it well. However, the choices of the administrators are equally subject to the responsibilities of the government, which tends to not educate the people on how to develop a historical and political conscience. This would be essential to distinguish the ephemeral from the lasting, the appearence from the substance, the futile from the useful. In times like this, what counts is the image because it produces immediate success and it is not difficult to obtein. Also in ancient times some special anniversaries were celebrated, however, they made sure to concentrate on initiatives that went beyond contingency because the use of money was usually more cautious and perhaps relationships were more lively. To celebrate the two hundred years since Dante's birth, in 1465 the administrators of Florence cathedral commissioned to Domenico di Michelino a pictorial monument. The aim was to exalt the memory of the poet in the main church of Florence, which, according to the humanists, should have served as a pantheon for celebrating the glories of the Florentines. Michelino depicted Dante standing on the proscenium, with his left hand holding the Commedia on the opening lines. In a symbolic setting, evocating the places of the three canticles, he turns his gaze thoughtfully towards a lyrical epiphany of Florence, with its architecture enclosed within crenellated walls, and dominated by the majestic and already completed dome of Brunelleschi. The city is opposite the gate of Hell, incomparably larger than that of Florence, as if it provided an easy access. Vice versa the gate of Florence represents a difficult return for those who have been exiled. It is an allegorical portrait of Dante, just as the one painted by Bronzino about seventy years later and commissioned by a rich and cultured Florentine. Also in Bronzino's canvas (both works are on canvas) the poet is represented sat in a layout that follows the three canticles. With the palm of the right hand he seems to protect from the infernal flames a Florence that appears from the outline of a hill with its soaring iconic architecture. Dante holds the Commedia also in the painting of the sixteenth century, which is open to the starting lines of the XXV Canto of Paradiso, suggesting his dream of a return home from exile. It would be nice if Bronzino's Portrait of Dante had a permanent residence in Palazzo Vecchio, since the poet would find himself present in effigy - as if he had finally found peace - in the two Florentine public buildings par excellence: the civil and the religious ones, both sacred.