BRANCACCI CHAPEL, Introduction

Audio File length: 2.42
Author: STEFANO ZUFFI E DAVIDE TORTORELLA
English / USA Language: English / USA

Hi, I'm Debbie, your personal guide. Together with MyWoWo, I'd like to welcome you to one of the wonders of the world.

Today I'll accompany you through the Brancacci Chapel, which is one of the greatest masterpieces of the Florentine Renaissance!

You are in the popular district called San Frediano, located on the other side of the Arno River.

Located just to the right of Santa Maria del Carmine Church, which was renovated in a Baroque style in the late 1700s after a severe fire, you are about to enter the Brancacci Chapel and its fresco decorations that changed the course of the history of painting.

After going past the entrance, you'll cross a pleasant 17th-century cloister and some rooms in the ancient Carmelite convent including the Refectory and Column Hall, where you will see interesting frescoes dating from the 1300s to the 1500s. A passage to the left leads you to the chapel, which was separated from the rest of the church so that it could also be visited when mass was being held.

So let me tell you about the chapel: in 1424, the financier and tax collector Felice Brancacci asked two painters to add frescoes to the family chapel. They worked together, while each maintained his own recognizable individuality: the first was Masolino da Panicale, who had been painting for a few years between Florence and Empoli, and Masaccio, who was only twenty-three. The frescoes are dedicated to Saint Peter's life and miracles. You can recognize Masolino's hand in the happier scenes with delicate, faint expressions, and you'll notice that the episodes painted by Masaccio have a much more rigid solemnity that's almost statuary.

These frescoes clearly show how the two young artists had abandoned the stylistic heritage of the Gothic period and proposed a new vision based on perspective and the use of correct anatomical proportions of the human body.

The frescoes were left unfinished, and then completed about six decades later by Filippino Lippi. Filippino Lippi was the son of Filippo Lippi, who was also a great painter and Carmelite friar. He was famous for having escaped the convent with a beautiful nun.

 

FUN FACT: still unsatisfied after having exiled the Brancacci, the Medici family had all the faces of the secondary characters removed from the chapel's frescoes, as they had depicted various members of the Brancacci family; this was a common practice in those times.

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