Art and Science: a naturalist's point of view
The staff at the Museum of Natural History – in particular, those affiliated with Zoology, Botany and Botanical Gardens – has been involved in numerous occasions in naturalistic analyses applied to cultural heritage. The studies, generally commissioned by individual art historians or art museums or other institutional bodies, have had the objective of providing scholars and users with an unusual look on the subjects represented in a work of art. In some cases, it is a matter of giving a name to the obvious subjects in the work, in other cases we notice details - a small plant, an insect, a peculiar landscape - that can escape the inattentive visitor.
Among the studies carried out, we wish to mention: the research on the bronze base of Pietro Tacca's Porcellino (1612) held in the Bardini Museum in Florence; the investigation on one of the tapestries of the series 'Stories of Jewish Joseph' (XVI century), commissioned by Cosimo I de' Medici and kept at the Quirinale in Rome; the analysis of several paintings, including an altar frontal by Guido da Siena, found at the National Paintings Gallery of Siena, a nativity by Filippo Lippi in the Museo Civico in Prato and, in Florence, on the frescoes by Agnolo Gaddi in the Cappella della Cintola.
Nature at Palazzo Vecchio
The most recent study concerned the identification of plants, animals and landscapes in the frescoed rooms of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. With the contribution of the company Aboca and with the collaboration of other colleagues, a naturalistic guide of the Palazzo was created, so that visitors, thanks to the identification of the natural elements, can appreciate their importance and significance, as well as take notice of unusual details.
The relationship between Art and Science, so significant especially in the past, needs constant comparisons between experts of different disciplines and the Museum of Natural History constitutes the privileged interlocutor of art historians for the implementation of comprehensive research projects.
Contacts: Chiara Nepi, Marina Clauser, Gianna Innocenti, Simone Cianfanelli