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May 03 , 2016

The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci: The Forerunner

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At Siena was discovered another statue of Venus, to the huge joy of the inhabitants. A great concourse, with much feasting and honour, set it up over the fountain called II Fonte Gaja," as an adornment. . . . "But great tribulation having come upon the land by reason of the Florentines, there arose one of the council, a citizen, and spake in this wise: 'Fellow-citizens, since the finding of this figure we have had much evil hap, and if we consider how strictly idolatry is prohibited by our faith, what shall we think but that God hath sent us this adversity by reason of sin? I advise that we remove this image from the public square of the city, deface it, break it in pieces, and send it to be buried in the territory of the Florentines. "All agreeing with this opinion, they confirmed it by a decree; and the thing was put into execution, and the statue was buried within our confines." (Notes of the Florentine sculptor, Lorenzo Ghiberti, XVth century.) IN Florence the guild of dyers had their shops hard by the Canonica of Orsanmichele. The houses were disfigured by every sort of shed, outhouse, and projection on crooked wooden supports; tiled roofs leaned so close to each other as almost to shut out the sky, and the street was dark even in the glare of noon. In the doorways below, samples of foreign woollen-stuffs were suspended, sent to Florence to be dyed with litmus-lichen, with madder, or with woad steeped in a corrosive of Tuscan alum. The street was paved roughly, and in the kennel flowed many-coloured streams, oozings from the dye vats. Shields over the portals of the principal shops, or Fondachi, were blazoned with the arms of the Calimala (so the guild of dyers was named), on a field gules, an eagle, or upon a ball of wool argent.
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