Jackson Grabill ’24 -Study of Renaissance Architecture

In the Spring of 2023, I was fortunate enough to study in Rome for a semester. Much of my academic study centered around art and architecture in and around Rome. Specifically, I took a particular interest in the era of the Italian Renaissance. The famous works of Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci piqued my interest, and, as I was in Italy, I had the opportunity to see some of their works firsthand. Thanks to the generosity of the Givens family and Wabash College, I was able to travel outside of Rome and experience an array of Italian Renaissance art and architecture. My favorite place I was able to visit was Florence, Italy.

There was perhaps no better place to study the best and most famous works of the masters of the Renaissance than Florence. Florence is often referred to as the cradle of the Renaissance. While in Florence, I began by visiting the Florence Cathedral and Florence Baptistry. I was immediately struck by the scale and detail of these buildings. The Cathedral, or Duomo, towered over us, and had an elaborate pink, green, and white exterior design. While I felt as if I could spend hours studying the details on the outside walls of the cathedral, the most remarkable aspect was Brunelleschi’s dome. I could only imagine how amazing the Cathedral and dome must have seemed to people over 500 years ago. Across from the Cathedral, I visited the St. John Baptistery, which has a similar exterior design to the Cathedral.

I was also able to visit two art museums while in Florence: the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Gallery. The Uffizi is perhaps the best gallery in the world to experience masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance. I saw many famous works, such as Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus”. Due to time constraints, I wasn’t able to see everything the Uffizi Gallery has to offer. However, seeing these famous works of art in person gave me a newfound appreciation for the detail and beauty of Italian Renaissance art. Finally, we visited the Accademia Gallery, which is home to many more prominent pieces of Italian Renaissance art.

Most notably, the Accademia contains Michelangelo’s “David” statue. Of all the art and architecture that I was fortunate enough to see while studying abroad, Michelangelo’s “David” was my favorite. I was flooded with genuine human wonder while taking in the statue. The human-like appearance of the marble statue made it seem as if David could start moving at any moment. I felt as if I could have spent hours this statue and had to remind myself that a human carved it out of marble. Aside from these major attractions, I benefitted from spending time in a city that was steeped in history and beauty. While Florence’s art and architecture was its main attraction, I also enjoyed the city’s wonderful culinary scene.

I would like to extend a massive thank you to the Givens family for their extreme generosity. Without the Givens Scholarship, I would not have been able to have such a fruitful experience. Because of this experience, I was able to grow my interest in, and appreciate for, art, especially that of the Italian Renaissance era.