GREAT RENAISSANCE FRESCOS TOUR: CHURCHES OF FLORENCE
Many affluent families or powerful religious confraternities in the Renaissance time purchased big fresco cycles to exalt their houses and authority. Portraits of the members of the house, with plenty of details in clothing and architectural design, were expressly required by the commissioners. The Tornabuoni ordered their celebration in the imposing main chapel of Santa Maria Novella Church, the Sassetti in Santa Trinita Church, the Brancacci in the chapel of the same name in Santa Maria del Carmine, and the Umiliati order (Humiliates) in the refectory of the Ognissanti convent. On of the most celebrated artists of the upper class was Domenico del Ghirlandaio, who decorated the most important churches of Florence. Masaccio, on the other hand, painted the well-known Brancacci Chapel, masterpiece of the early Renaissance.
SANTA MARIA NOVELLA AND SANTA TRINITA
The Church of Santa Maria Novella was founded by the Dominican order at the end of the 13th century. Originally a Gothic church, Santa Maria Novella was made famous by the beautiful Renaissance façade by Leon Battista Alberti, an emblem of perfection and proportion. Inside, in the Tornabuoni chapel, the frescoes by Domenico del Ghirlandaio portray the members of the House of the Medici. Santa Maria Novella is not only a church: it is a real treasure chest. The Holy Trinity by Masaccio, Brunelleschi’s and Giotto’s Crucifix and the scientific instruments on the façade are among the many masterpieces that really make it worth a visit. We also visit Santa Trinita Church. Francesco Sassetti was a rich banker and a member of the Medici entourage. In 1478 he acquired the chapel of St. Francis in Santa Trinita Church, commissioning its decoration to Domenico Ghirlandaio, the official visual biographer of the wealthiest Florentine families.
BRANCACCI CHAPEL AND OGNISSANTI CHURCH
Ognissanti Church was the headquarter of the Umiliati friars, the first ones to start working and trading wool. This activity had a key role in the development of Florence’s economy. The church houses the frescoes of Saint Jerome in his Study by Domenico Ghirlandaio and Saint Augustine in his Study by Sandro Botticelli, who was also buried here. Finally, the Vespucci family had its own chapel in this church. In the refectory, we can admire Ghirlandaio’s masterpiece, The Last Supper. Our tour continues with the Brancacci Chapel. It represents one of the highest results of Renaissance painting and it is fruit of the collaboration between three of the biggest artists of the time, Masolino da Panicale, Masaccio and, 50 years later, Filippino Lippi. The rich silk merchant Felice Brancacci wanted to have his own chapel on the holy ground depicting the history of man’s salvation, from the original sin to the advent of St. Peter, founder of the Roman church.
How long? 4 hours
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