Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Mystery of Diomede Leoni and his Horti

The book attempts to shed light on the heretofore unknown owner and builder of a highly unusual garden in San Quirico d'Orcia.

The text interweaves biography and architectural analysis to begin to solve its mystery. I analyze the design of the garden by comparing it to other gardens of the same period and also to the architecture of Michelangelo, who Diomede Leoni knew during the artist's final years of life. In fact, Leoni was one of three men at Michelangelo's bedside when he died and the only one to write about the artist's last moments. Oddly enough, Giorgio Vasari completely ignored the presence of Leoni at Michelangelo's house when he described the event in his Lives of the Artists. The only explanation is that Diomede Leoni was neither a nobleman nor an artist.  In Vasari's eyes, he was a nobody. However, after Michelangelo's death, he became an important art broker for the Medici's, acquiring both Michelangelo's Bacchus and, many years later, his Brutus.
There is still so much more to learn about this garden. For now, at the very least, the book sets the record straight as far as when the garden was built, its unique design, and who was this man named Diomede Leoni.

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