Tag Archives: Michelangelo

No one benefits from a bonfire of the vanities

WHEN it all ended, they sent children to tug the playing cards from gamblers’ hands and strip closets of their silks. Savonarola’s so-called angels swept away the fine paintings and the antique statues, delivering their loot to the great fire burning in the heart of the city. It was said that Botticelli himself threw pictures onto the fire. Mardi Gras, 1497, and a city made great with the fortunes created by its bankers was ruining itself in a self-righteous fury. As a new exhibition opens in Florence, covering the role of high finance in that city’s Renaissance, the bonfire of the vanities offers a useful reminder of what happened when Florence rejected its financiers. Continue reading

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