Tag Archives: Florence

Giovanni Boccaccio on pandemics past and present

Constance Markey Chicago, IL   The plague of Florence, 1348; an episode in the Decameron by Boccaccio. Etching by L. Sabatelli the elder after G. Boccaccio. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)) Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) is universally celebrated for his masterpiece The Decameron, an appealing assemblage of one hundred loosely connected novellas, […]

Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man

JMS Pearce England, UK   Second only to his Mona Lisa, the most famous drawing in the world of art is perhaps Leonardo da Vinci’s (1452–1519) Vitruvian Man. Leonardo was the illegitimate son of a notary and a peasant girl. He was named after his birthplace Vinci (at Anchiano) near Florence. He became a painter, […]

Antonio Benivieni, early anatomist and pathologist

De abditis, or Concerning some hidden and remarkable cases of diseases and cures. The Florentine Antonio Benivieni dissected corpses and recorded his findings some seventy years before Andreas Vesalius and even more so before Batista Morgagni. Yet though he has been called the “founder of pathology,” he never achieved the fame and recognition accorded to […]

Michelangelo’s David and the anatomical politics of religious art

Sam Shuster Woodbridge, Suffolk   David. Michelangelo. 1501-4, Florence It is impossible to see Michelangelo’s David without marvelling at the way its power and humanity have been fashioned from coarse stone. Apart from its living warmth, there is a unique display of human anatomy, each feature of which stands out in perfection, and together make […]

The Bonifacio Hospital: reforming psychiatric hospital care

Panagiota Kitsantas Fairfax, Virginia  The Bonifacio Hospital, Florence, Italy In 1369-1377 Bonifacio Lupi, mayor of Florence and Captain of the People, founded the Bonifacio Hospital (Ospedale di Bonifacio) dedicated to St. John the Baptist. In the sixteenth century, the hospital admitted patients suffering from syphilis, known as the “French disease,” spread by troops of Charles […]

Andrea del Sarto – plague in Florence

“The siege being finished . . . . Florence became filled with soldiers and stores from the camp. Among those soldiers were some mercenaries sick of the plague, who brought no little terror into the city and shortly afterwards left it infected. Thereupon, either through this apprehension or through some imprudence in eating after having […]

Carl von Rokitansky (1804-1881)

For a brief period between 1860 and 1910, Vienna became the cultural capital of Europe, just as Constantinople had been in the Middle Ages and Florence during the Renaissance. It had become an attractive metropolis of two million people, capital of an empire that in the wake of two serious military defeats had abandoned its […]

Doctors and illness in Boccaccio’s Decameron

Maria Sgouridou Greece   Introduction Giovanni Boccaccio was born in Tuscany in 1313, the illegitimate son of a merchant of Certaldo, who launched him on a commercial career hoping he would follow in his steps. Sent to Naples for that reason, he soon abandoned commerce and the study of canon law, and began instead to […]