Battle of Cascina

(1504-1506; destroyed)
   A conflict between Florence and Pisa that took place on 28 July 1364, with Florence emerging as the victor. In 1504, the fathers of the Florentine Republic decided to commemorate the event by commissioning Michelangelo to render a fresco of the subject in the Sala del Consiglio (Council Chamber) of the Palazzo Vecchio, the city's seat of government. It fell on Leonardo to render the Battle of Anghiari of 1440 between Florence and Milan in the opposite wall. Like Leonardo's fresco, Michelangelo's remained incomplete since in 1505 Pope Julius II summoned the artist to Rome to work on his tomb. Michelangelo returned briefly to Florence in 1506, worked on the fresco a bit longer, but never completed it. In 1557 the frescoes in the room were replaced by Vasari's works, meant to glorify the Medici. Michelangelo's fresco, like Leonardo's, is known only from extant sketches. These reveal that he chose to render the Florentine soldiers, who had been cooling off in the Arno River when the Pisans attacked, rushing to dress so they could fight the enemy. This would give Michelangelo the opportunity to demonstrate his skills in depicting the male nude form in different, complex poses. The cartoon for the fresco, also destroyed, is known to have been greatly admired and used as prototype by both High Renaissance and Mannerist artists.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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