Bonfire of the Vanities
Bonfire of the Vanities (Italian: Falò delle vanità) refers to the burning of objects that are deemed to be occasions of sin. The most infamous one took place on 7 February 1497, when supporters of the Dominican priest Girolamo Savonarola collected and publicly burned thousands of objects like cosmetics, art, and books in Florence, Italy, on the Mardi Gras festival. Such bonfires were not invented by Savonarola, however. They were a common accompaniment to the outdoor sermons of San Bernardino di Siena in the first half of the century.
The focus of this destruction was nominally on objects that might tempt one to sin, including vanity items such as mirrors, cosmetics, fine dresses, playing cards, and even musical instruments. Other targets included books that were deemed to be immoral, such as works by Boccaccio, and manuscripts of secular songs, as well as artworks, including paintings and sculpture.
Burning of Sandro Botticelli's paintings 
Although it is widely reported that the Florentine artist Sandro Botticelli burned several of his paintings based on classical mythology in the great Florentine bonfire of 1492, the historical record on this is not clear. According to the art historian Giorgio Vasari, Botticelli was a partisan of Savonarola: "he was so ardent a partisan that he was thereby induced to desert his painting, and, having no income to live on, fell into very great distress". Writing several centuries later, Orestes Brownson, an apologist for Savonarola, mentions artwork only by Fra Bartolomeo, Lorenzo di Credi, and "many other painters", along with "several antique statues". Art historian Rab Hatfield argues that one of Botticelli's paintings, The Mystical Nativity, is based on the sermon Savonarola delivered on Christmas Eve 1493.
In fiction 
The event has been represented or mentioned in varying degrees of detail in a number of works of historical fiction, including George Eliot's Romola (1863), E. R. Eddison's A Fish Dinner in Memison (1941), Irving Stone's The Agony and the Ecstasy (1961), Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's The Palace (1978), Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient - part two 1992, Timothy Findley's Pilgrim (1999), Sarah Dunant's The Birth of Venus (2003), Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason's Rule of Four (2004), Richelle Mead's Succubus Shadows (2010), and the Showtime series The Borgias.
It was also depicted in the PBS series Empires: The Medici, Godfathers of the Renaissance (2003) at the end of the second episode.
Mentioned in the video game Assassin's Creed II, the Bonfire is the setting of a downloadable content portion of the game. In the in-game version, Savonarola had stolen the "Apple of Eden" from Ezio Auditore da Firenze at the end of the Battle of Forli DLC, and used it to hypnotize people into supporting him.
The seventh episode of the second season of The Borgias depicts the 1497 event.
Episode four of the BBC radio comedy series The Leopard in Autumn was intitled "The Burning of the Sanities" and included a bonfire of vanities.
"Bonfire of the Vanities" in non-fiction 
Classicist historians John Heath, Bruce Snail Thornton, and Victor Davis Hanson wrote Bonfire of the Humanities: Rescuing the Classics in an Impoverished Age (2001), using the name of the bonfire as a metaphor for declining interest in classic works.
See also 
- Orestes Brownson, "Savonarola: his Contest with Paganism," Brownson's Quarterly Review, April, 1851; available at Orestes Brownson society
- Rab Hatfield, "Botticelli's Mystic Nativity, Savonarola and the Millennium", Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Vol. 58, (1995), pp. 88-114
- Echoes of Botticelli in Early Modern Sources Explores primary sources related to Botticelli and Savonarola