5 October 2006 -
7 January 2007

At Home in Renaissance Italy

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The Labours of the Months: April Enlarge image of The Labours of the Months: April

Twelve roundels with the labours of the months: April
Luca della Robbia
About 1450-6, Florence
Enamelled terracotta with gold leaf highlights

The Medici Study

The study (scrittoio) belonging to Piero and later Lorenzo de' Medici was a tiny room, like a treasury, filled with exquisite objects. Completed by 1459, it was on the first floor of the family's newly built palace, within the main suite of rooms. The vaulted ceiling was decorated with the celebrated cycle of the Labours of the Months by Luca della Robbia. The floor, now lost, was made of painted tiles, probably by the same workshop.

The walls were lined with inlaid cupboards, with shelves designed to house books and works of art. There were antique gems, medieval reliquaries and jewels, contemporary illuminated manuscripts and small paintings, often acquired as collateral to loans.

One of the first to include a large number of antiquities, this concentrated collection had a widespread and long-lasting influence. Visitors to the study described it as a 'stupendous thing'.