I have seen more cathedrals in the past two days than I have seen in my entire existence before Florence, Italy. And not only are the cathedrals plentiful, but they are also some of the most beautiful structures I have encountered. Both the inside and the outside of the churches are painted with scenes from the Bible and the architecture is so detailed and purposeful. I have yet to see a church that is not Catholic, maybe because Italy has always been predominantly Catholic, especially during the time period that these cathedrals were built, about 1000-1600. The prevalence of cathedrals demonstrates that Catholicism was a huge part of daily life for Italians during medieval times. Catholicism is also present in art from that time period. We have been to two museums in Florence, the Academia and the Uffizi, and both museums featured many paintings of Jesus on the cross and “Madonna and Child,” depicting Mary with baby Jesus. Most paintings included distinct golden halos around the figures in the painting that were representing an important person or divine being in the Bible. The amount of reverence and detail in these paintings show the care the artists took to paint biblical scenes. Since there are so many art pieces with biblical scenes, there must have been a market for that work. Whether for private owners, like the infamous Medici family, or paintings for the church, they were clearly sought after. I believe this shows the importance of religion in Italian life in medieval times. This is supported by the fact that Galileo was cast out of society when his scientific experiments went against what the church told its followers. Simply saying something different from what the church believed was considered criminal.
Art seems to reflect the culture in Italy yet also perpetuate culture. Catholicism grew in popularity and then art was made that depicted Catholic scenes or principles. However, the art grew so popular, and the cathedrals so grand, that it influenced more people to join the wealth and beauty that the Catholic Church had plenty of. People were so rooted in the Catholic culture that even the huge phenomenon of Protestantism did not affect the population’s religious beliefs. Catholicism has continued to reign supreme in Florence and the rest of Italy. The art reflects this because it shows predominantly Catholic scenes like glorifying The Virgin Mary with Jesus and paintings depicting the Pope. Artists were highly respected because they depicted these scenes.
In conclusion, my perspective about art and culture in Florence is that they both reflect each other and perpetuate each other. This is especially true for Catholicism in Italy. Art was focused on the Catholic Church and culture was as well. From what I have learned in Florence, this was not by coincidence but intimately connected and heavily influenced by each other.