John Ayling was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1943. He qualified as a lawyer in 1966 and spent the next 46 years in New South Wales court houses trying to sort through confusing facts and persuade bored judges that one version or the other of the facts was the correct one. When he retired and gave up this impossible struggle, he realised that he had been for years much less interested in law than in Art, and particularly in the way visual, representational art changed and transformed itself in measure with human aspirations. Naturally, with time on his hands, this led him to Italy, and to Florence, where that transformation is plain to see on the walls of ancient buildings and in the great museum treasure houses.
This book is a journal of discovery. The author knew from his own past experience that an understanding and appreciation of the art of Florence will not be achieved by a visitor to that city who simply comes, looks and goes away. Such visitors must mentally put what they see in perspective; they need to know something about the times, events and people that produced the works of art, and how beliefs, politics and power plays dictated artistic subjects and even the forms of the buildings being explored. So in this book John Ayling guides the visitor into the society of a Florence now long disappeared, by showing the visitor the clues left behind by the artists.by