Saturday, January 19, 2019


Commissioned by Pope Leo X Medici (1513/21) who chose the project by Jacopo Tatti aka Jacopo Sansovino (1486/1570) for the Arciconfraternita di S. Giovanni Battista della Pietà dei Fiorentini (Confraternity of St. John the Baptist of the Mercy of the Florentine People)
The Confraternity was founded after the plague of 1448 and originally had its headquarters in the now disappeared Church of S. Pantaleone
Projects for the church had also been presented by Raphael, Baldassarre Peruzzi and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger
Begun in 1519 by Jacopo Sansovino and continued in 1521 by Antonio Cordini aka Antonio da Sangallo the Younger (1483/1546) until Leo X's death on that same year when the works for the church were interrupted
The works continued from 1534 until 1546, year of the death of Sangallo
In 1559 Pope Pius IV Medici (1559/65) commissioned a new project to Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475/1564), which was carried out slowly from 1560 until 1564, the year of the death of the master
Between 1564 and 1575 S. Filippo Neri (known as St. Philip Neri in English) was rector of the church
From 1583 to 1598 Giacomo Della Porta (1533/1602) resumed the works according to the plans by Sangallo
From 1598 to 1614 Carlo Maderno (1556/1629) completed the works with the Dome 1612/13, the choir, the transept and also, since 1607, the Ospedale di S. Giovanni Battista della Nazione Fiorentina (Hospital of St. John the Baptist of the Florentine Nation) demolished during the Fascist period
The church is also famous for the fact that entry to pet animals is allowed
It is the National Church of Florence

1734 Alessandro Galilei (1691/1737)
“Having excluded the possibility, suggested by Giovanni Bottari, of adapting Michelangelo's project for San Lorenzo in Florence, Galilei opted for a basilica, referring to Roman solutions of the sixteenth century and especially the works of Sebastiano Serlio and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger but making a strong simplification. (...) The primacy of architecture over decoration, the free interpretation of the Renaissance treatises as well as the tradition, the rationalism of scientific matrix, the repeated use of the geometry of the elements and symmetry relationships represent, as a whole, some of the emerging features of the work of Galilei aimed at obtaining a measured and rigorous language, that would combine Florentine, Roman and English influences” (Silvia Cusmano - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)
Coat of arms of Clement XII Corsini (1730/40) on the façade 
“S. Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi” by Salvatore Sanni
“St. Philip Benizi de Damiani” by Francesco Queirolo (1704/62)
“S. Pietro Igneo” by Simone Martinez (1689/1763)
“Charity” and “Fortress” 1749/51 by Filippo Della Valle (1698/1768)
“S. Bernardo degli Uberti” by Gaetano Altobelli
“Blessed Eugene deacon” by Pietro Pacilli (1716/after 1769)
S. Caterina de' Ricci” by Giuseppe Canard
Reliefs from the left:
“Visitation to St. Elizabeth” by Paolo Benaglia (?/1739)
“Baptism of Christ” by Pietro Bracci (1700/73)
“Beheading of John the Baptist” by Domenico Scaramuccia
The three bells of the small BELL TOWER were bought in 1583 and come from English churches
Above the entrance ORGAN in golden wood dating back to 1673

Half of 1800s from a design by Gaspare Salvi (1786/1849). Restored in 1893

Right Nave of the Church

Above the altar “St. Vincent Ferrer” about 1604 by Domenico Crespi aka Passignano (1559/1638)
On the floor “Tombstone of the Marquis Onofrio Del Grillo” and thirteen coats of arms of Florentine families
This is the Marquis Del Grillo made famous in Italy by the film Il Marchese del Grillo in 1981 by Mario Monicelli with Alberto Sordi

Cross that once belonged to S. Filippo Neri (1515/95)

Above the altar “Glory of St. Philip Benizi de Damiani” end of seventeenth century by an unknown Florentine artist
On the vault frescoes “Fall of the Idols”, “Martyrdom of St. Simeon” and “Martyrdom of St. Jude Thaddeus”
On the sides “Stories of Sts. Simon and Jude Thaddeus”:
“The frescoes by Gentileschi are very interesting for the expressiveness of the characters and the representation of the clothing. Stylistically, one notes, next to a moderate Caravaggio trend, the obvious influence of the frescos in the nave of S. Maria Maggiore (1593) and in the transept of St. John Lateran (1599/1601), collective enterprises to which Gentileschi himself took part. From the cycle in the Lateran basilica, he took important cues from the Cavalier d'Arpino, who was the construction manager and from Giovanni Baglione” (Daniele Ferrara)
Coats of arms of Florentine families on the floor. The first from the left near the balustrade is the coat of arms of Carlo Maderno's family

Memory funeral on aedicula of the years 1749/50 with “Bust of Pope Clement XII Corsini (1730/40)” about 1742 by Filippo Della Valle (1698/1768)

Above the altar “St. Jerome penitent” 1599 by Santi di Tito (1536/1603) who also worked on the small paintings on the side with moralistic-apocalyptic scenes echoing the contemporary sermons of Girolamo Savonarola, namesake of the saint to whom the chapel is dedicated
“Santi di Tito and his pupils aspire to a chromatic style light, bright, perfectly in tune with the ancient traditions. This gives the paintings of this school an archaistic character, as if they were stained glass windows, which continues until the seventeenth century and it is even transplanted into Roman land by artists such as Agostino Ciampelli” (Hermann Voss)
To the right “St. Jerome writing the Vulgate in the study with three virtues” 1599 by Ludovico Cardi aka Cigoli (1559/1613)
To the left “Construction of the church with Michelangelo and St. Jerome” 1599 by Domenico Crespi aka Passignano (1559/1638)
Stucco and frescoes of the end of 1500s maybe by Stefano Pieri (1542/1629)

Above the altar “Virgin Mary appears to St. Philip Neri in heaven with Sts. Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene” copy from an original by Carlo Maratta at Palazzo Pitti

“Monument to Francesca Riccardi” 1700 previously attributed to Ercole Antonio Raggi, but recently assigned to the Florentine Lorenzo Merlini (1666/1745)
“The result of a sophisticated cultural language, the figure of the attractive marquise, even if clearly inspired by the Roman sculptors Lorenzo Ottoni and Camillo Rusconi, seems to contract debts mainly from the Florentine style, evident not only in the Verrocchio-like neo-Renaissance air, but also in the hedonistic composition of the image evidently derived from his knowledge of works of his master G.B. Foggini, not immune to references to classical statuary and to the new pre-rococo French style” (Sandro Bellesi – Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)

Altarpiece “The Martyrdom of Sts. Cosmas and Damian” 1669 by Salvator Rosa (1615/73)
This painting was the subject of a famous and controversial “challenge” to Michelangelo: Salvator Rosa boasted of being able to paint a better nude figure than those of the great master
“One of the rare altar paintings by the Neapolitan artist, which in this Roman work - criticized by his contemporaries - joined the baroque emphasis of the composition with the expressive naturalism of the characters” (Daniele Ferrara)
Niches in the upper right “Bust of Ottaviano Acciaioli” about 1659 by Ercole Ferrata (1610/86) and in the upper left “Bust of Ottaviano Corsini” about 1641 by Alessandro Algardi (1598/1654)

Presbytery and Side Chapels

1612/14 by Carlo Maderno (1556/1629) and Matteo Castelli (1560/1632) with fifteenth-century “Madonna and Child” by an unknown artist with style similar to the Lippis, linked to a miraculous event:
The image was hit by a bocce player who was paralyzed until he obtained, through prayer, forgiveness from the Virgin Mary
Frescoes “Stories of the Virgin Mary” 1615 by Agostino Ciampelli (1565/1630) and stucco work by Pietro da Siena
To the right “Death of the Virgin Mary” 1616 by Anastasio Fontebuoni (1571/1626)

Planned already in 1634 by Pietro Berrettini aka Pietro da Cortona (1597/1669)
A sham structure remained in place until 1656, the year in which Francesco Borromini (1599/1667) took over. He changed slightly the project and worked on it until his death, when Pietro da Cortona returned
It was completed in the years 1673/76 by Ciro Ferri (1634/89) pupil of Pietro da Cortona, who followed the project of his master
Because of the quarrels over this project, the long friendship between Pietro da Cortona and Borromini, the two great masters of Baroque art, was affected
It is the first example of theatrical conception of an altar with light coming from hidden windows, later used in a similar way by Bernini
“If Bramante universalism tends to identify a system of rules and reasoned exceptions, Baroque is by its nature away from the role of binding rules and opens a space for experimentation from which new rules arise continuously. The centripetal situation of the sixteenth century is replaced in the seventeenth century by a centrifugal situation consecrating the freedom of the artist” (Paolo Portoghesi)
Impressive marble group “Baptism of Christ” 1667/69 by Ercole Antonio Raggi (1624/86)
The group had been originally commissioned to Francesco Mochi but he was not able to see his work located in the spot it had been commissioned for. It is now visible in Palazzo Braschi

Statues “Justice” to the right by Michelangelo Anguier and “Fortitude” on the left by Leonardo Reti

“Falconieri Monuments” begun by Francesco Borromini and finished by Ciro Ferri:
To the right “Orazio Falconieri and his wife Ottavia Sacchetti” with “Statue of Charity” 1665/69 by Domenico Guidi (1625/1701)
The monument in the lower part dates back to 1733
To the left “Monument of Cardinal Lelio Falconieri” with “Statue of Faith” about 1667 by Ercole Ferrata (1610/86)

Francesco Borromini. The crypt is not used because it is subject to flooding

Above the altar “Bronze Crucifix” maybe by Paolo Sanquirico (1565/1630) from the model by Prospero Antichi detto Prospero Bresciano (active from 1580/d. after 1592), who maybe made also other stucco decorations in the chapel representing “Episodes from the Ancient Testament”
To the left “Road to Calvary” with lunette “Crowning with Thorns”
To the right “Agony in the Garden” with lunette “Derision of Christ” 1621/24 masterpieces by Giovanni Lanfranco (1582/1647) who also made “Evangelists” in the spandrels and “Ascension” in the vault for the Sacchetti family
“The decoration of Lanfranco is an important step in the evolution of the artist that would soon lead to the baroque decoration of the Assumption in the dome of S. Andrea della Valle: the 'breakthrough' of the vault inspired by Correggio and the figure of Christ floating with the angels in golden sky, represent the terminal phase of a thematic route that begins from the images on the walls” (Daniele Ferrara)

“Reliquary with the foot of St. Mary Magdalene” which, as the sign on the side says, was the first foot to enter the tomb of the Risen Christ

Under the DOME
In the church the painter Ludovico Cardi aka Cigoli (1559/1613) is also buried

Left Nave of the Church

Above the altar “Assumption of St. Mary Magdalene to Heaven” about 1662/65 maybe by the Sienese Astolfo Petrazzi (1583/1665)
Sculptures in the upper part “Angel Musicians” by Giuseppe Ghezzi (1634/1721)
Niches at the top:
To the right “Funerary monument of Antonio Barberini” 1629 maybe by Giuliano Finelli (1602/53) commissioned by Carlo Barberini
To the left “Funerary monument of Pier Francesco Rossi” 1673 by Domenico Guidi (1625/1701)

To the left “Monument of Girolamo Samminiati” 1733 by Filippo Della Valle (1698/1768)
To the right “Monument of Alessandro Gregorio Capponi” 1746 by Ferdinando Fuga (1699/1782) with sculptures by Michelangelo Slodtz (1705/64)

Above the altar “St. Francis” maybe by Santi di Tito (1536/1603) or by Jacopo Ligozzi (1547/1627)
Frescoes “Stories of St. Francis”:
To the left “Honorius III Savelli (1216/27) confirming the Franciscan rule” and to the right “Preaching of St. Francis before the Sultan” about 1586/87 by Niccolò Circignani aka Pomarancio (about 1520/98)
“The frescoes by Circignani are an important stage of his artistic career, at this stage geared toward rigorous monumentality, based on architectures that enhance the depth of perspective” (Daniele Ferrara)
At the center of the vault “Angels musicians bearing roses” about 1684/87 by Giuseppe Ghezzi (1634/1721)

“Funerary Monument of Marco Panvini Rosati” 1826 by Pietro Tenerani (1789/1869)

On the altar “Death of St. Anthony of Egypt” 1612 by Agostino Ciampelli (1565/1630)
“It's undoubtedly the most successful Roman altarpiece of the Florentine painter. The simple, expressive manner, in which the event is represented in the lower half of this painting has an immediate impact as few works of Ciampelli, generally more proficient than deep. Even the gentle ascent of the soul (in the guise of a cute boy) helped by groups of angels has the power to steer with the beautiful rhythm of his movement” (Hermann Voss)
Frescoes in the vault “Stories of St. Lawrence”: in the center “Glory of St. Lawrence”, on the right “St. Lawrence shows the judges the poor to whom he distributed the goods” and on the left “St. Lawrence meets St. Sixtus II (257/258)” about 1612 by Antonio Tempesta (about 1555/1630)
Statues at the sides of the altar “St. Francis” and “St. Dominic”, “Angels” on the pediment and side pictures in stucco with “The Calling of St. Peter” and “Conversion of St. Paul” about 1659/63 by Giovanni Angelo Canini (1609/66)

On the altar “Preaching of St. John the Baptist” by Salvio Savini

Above the altar “Virgin Mary and S. Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi” first half of 1600s by Francesco Curradi
Frescoes in the vault “Stories of St. Egidio, St. Luke and the Virgin,” on the left “Clothing of Carlomanno” and on the right “Virgin Mary and St. Luke” about 1592/98 by the Florentine Giovanni Balducci aka Cosci (about 1560/after 1631)

On the altar “St. Sebastian Tended by the Holy Women” about 1650 by G.B. Vanni
On the right “St. Stephen I” by an unknown artist
On the floor twelve coats of arms of Florentine families

Museo d'Arte Sacra

Museum of Sacred Art
In the building to the right of the church built in 1939 by Bruno Maria Apollonj Ghetti (1905/89)
It replaced the demolished Ospedale di S. Giovanni Battista della Nazione Fiorentina (Hospital of St. John the Baptist of the Florentine Nation)
48 WORKS ON DISPLAY IN 7 ROOMS, including:
“Bust of Antonio Cepparelli” 1622 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680)
“Bust of Antonio Coppola” 1614 by Pietro Bernini (1562/1629), attributed by some art historians to Gian Lorenzo Bernini who would have painted when he was sixteen
“St. John as a child” about 1500 attributed in the past to Mino del Reame, Donatello and Jacopo Sansovino but now attributed by some scholars, based on recently discovered documents, to none other than a young Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475/1564)
“Bust of Pietro Cambi” 1627 by Pompeo Ferrucci (about 1566/1637)
“Relief depicting Madonna and Child with St. Anne” maybe by Pierino da Vinci (about 1530/53)
 Various precious reliquaries

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