Bring Out Your Vanities!

Controversial friar Girolamo Savonarola supervised the mass destruction of Renaissance art, literature and other priceless items he deemed as ‘fripperies’ on 7th February, 1497 - an event that became known as ‘The Bonfire of the Vanities’.

The Dominican cleric - eventually ex-communicated by the Pope for calling the Catholic Church ‘a whore’ - commandeered a large following of adolescents, who went door-to-door in Florence demanding items to be chucked on to the pyre. Ironically, Savonarola was ultimately executed the following year… by being chucked into a fire.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly ask whether Savonarola’s objections to Renaissance-era portraiture had any legitimacy; explain how he leveraged his ‘prophecies’ to give him greater control of the City; and consider why he selected Shrove Tuesday, of all days, to build his famous bonfire… 

Further Reading:

• ‘The friar who ignited the first bonfire of vanities in Florence’ (The Washington Post, 2006):

• ‘Who was Savonarola?’ (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 2017):

#1400s #Arts #Religion #Italy

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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

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