A Case of Double Identity: The Public and Private Faces of the Palazzo Tolomei in Siena

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Grossman, Max. "A Case of Double Identity." Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 72.1 (2013): 48-77. .


The Palazzo Tolomei in Siena (1270-75) was not only the private residence of a prominent local family, but was also the first legislative headquarters of the Guelph commune. It is argued that the special features and ornament of this hybrid edifice are linked to the original public function of its ground-level hall and to the city’s alliance with the papacy and its Angevin supporters after 1270. The marble she-wolf statue that stood in the adjacent square as a sign of the alleged antiquity of the city was, in fact, executed in tandem with the palace facade and is reinterpreted here as an extension of its decorative program. It is claimed that this building was the first of a new architectural type and that it served as the template for the next generation of Tuscan civic palaces, including the initial projects for the Palazzo Pubblico and the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.