Museo Masaccio d’Arte Sacra S. Pietro a Cascia

The museum, inaugurated in April 2002, has been named after Masaccio, the painter who opened the great age of the Florentine Renaissance, whose first known work is displayed in the adjacent parish church: the famous triptych of Saint Juvenal, dated 23rd April 1422. Coming from the nearby small church of SanGiovenale, it has been housed here since 1988 for reasons of security and propriety,. The museum has devoted to the painting of the Madonna enthroned with Child and four Saints an entire room of documentation equipped with didactic panels and computer supports. The visitor can look over them either before or after visiting the parish church, one of the most harmonic and suggestive of the Tuscan Romanesque monuments. But the museum, which one enters through the church apse and is housed on two floors, also displays paintings and precious objects belonging not only to Cascia but also to other important churches of the territory of Reggello, such as: S. Agata in Arfoli, S. Donato in Fronzano, S. Margherita in Cancelli, all of them ancient and endowed with a valuable artistic patrimony largely unknown until now. Among the paintings to be pointed out are: an important panel from the School of Ghirlandaio (end of 15th century), once exhibited on the main altar in Cascia, a sorrowful Deposition by Santi di Tito (1611), an ascetic Saint Anthony by Jacopo Vignali (17th century). Other works currently under restoration will be added to the works already on display, including a very beautiful panel by the Florentine School of 1575.

In the five rooms, one of which is decorated with elegant wall paintings from the first half of the 1700’s discovered under the plaster and recently restored (photo 2), we also find real treasures of sacred jewelry of the 15th-19th centuries: among these are to be pointed out: the Astylar Cross of the 1400’s in copper engraved on two sides, the Monstrance in silver and rock crystal of the 18th century, the wooden sculpture of Saint Nicholas of Bari (18th century) which still retains its clothing madeof precious fabric, a chalice in gilded copper with niello-wrought silver inserts of the 14th-15th centuries and two ampullas from the 1700’s with an open pattern in silver.Finally, in a small display case there are Russian icons and objects used in Jewish ceremonies, a sign of the desire of documentation that goes well beyond the local artistic heritage.

The section of liturgical hangings is particularly rich, a real little museum of fabrics that includes examples of the 15th-20th centuries: among theseare to be pointed out a chasuble made of lampas and velvet in silk and gold and a damask dalmatic with thistle flower motifs of 16th Century Tuscan manufacture (photo 3). Another sector, which is given prominence, is that of the Ex-voto, accumulated, out of popular veneration, around the ancient wooden Crucifix of Cascia (photo 4) and the Madonna of Comfort of San Giovenale: there are precious rosaries, coins and medals of the 17th and 18th centuries, small jewels including a cross in rock crystal of the 1600’s, elaborate baptismal medallions in filigree.

One room, meant to contain the historical archives of the Parish, has been furnished with: portraits of the series of parish priests in charge between the 17th and the 19th centuries (including one painted by Pier Dandini, 1646-1712) as well as precious ancient documents (photo 5). The museum supports the parish church, (which has been for some time, the seat of meetings on Masaccio and his triptych, concerts, theater performances, conferences, small exhibitions), in its promotion of important cultural initiatives.

essential bibliography

"Corrispondenza", 43, Fiesole, luglio 2003, anno XXIII
Caneva C., Fiesole, Editore: Tipografia Valdarnese, articolo di giornale n. 43, 2003

Masaccio 1422. Il Trittico di San Giovenale e il suo tempo
Caneva C. (a cura di), Milano, Editore: Motta, 2002

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