Piero della Francesca Museum

VALTIBERINA

The museum was established initially as a picture gallery in the 1920s but, as a matter of fact, the city government had always been involved in developing its art collections and, since the 16th century, commissioned works by prestigious artists to decorate the town hall and make it more impressive.

The starting point was, of course, Piero della Francesca’s Resurrection, the city’s emblem and symbol, which was frescoed around 1460 in the Palazzo della Residenza’s Sala dei Conservatori.
In the second half of the 16th century, the town sent for the famous Venetian painters, the Bassano family – very active in Sansepolcro – to decorate the chapel in the Palazzo della Residenza. In addition, works by Raffaellino del Colle and Leonardo Cungi were acquired.

During the 17th century, for a visit by Leopoldo II, the early collection was increased with the transfer of Cherubino Alberti’s famous engravings from the nearby town hall.
Given these illustrious precedents, it was only natural for the fresco of Saint Louis, detached from the walls of the Palazzo Pretorio, to be placed in these rooms in 1846.

Following the Napoleonic and Leopoldine suppressions of religious orders, between the late 18th and the first decade of the 19th century, the museum’s collection began to set itself up as an experimental and general gallery of works of art.
The growing desire to preserve and protect the city’s artistic heritage supported the transfer to the Palazzo della Residenza of works that were in “danger of deterioration”. This was especially in reference to the paintings in the Churches of Santa Chiara and of Sant’Agostino as well as the polyptych of Our Lady of Mercy, which became part of the Civic Picture Gallery collections in 1901.

With the new century, a genuine culture of conservation became widespread in Sansepolcro such that at that time the organization of the picture gallery also involved some experts who, simultaneously with the literary success of writings on Piero della Francesca by Roberto Longhi, Mario Salmi, Kenneth Clark, and Rudolf Wittkower, demonstrated a growing interest in the Valtiberina.

Over the years, this general enthusiasm was strengthened by the discovery and subsequent transfer of Saint Julian to the museum. Subsequently, the collaboration between the City of Sansepolcro, the Arezzo Superintendency, and the Tuscan region allowed the new museum to be inaugurated in 1975, with expanded exhibition spaces due to the renovation of areas on the top floor and in the basement.

Short Bibliography

Il Palazzo Comunale sede del Museo Civico, di Maetzke M., in Il Museo Civico di Sansepolcro, Maetzke A.M. e Galoppi Nappini D. (a cura di), Firenze, 1988, pp. 7-20

Gli affreschi di Piero, di Botticelli G., in “I quaderni dell’arte”, VI, 13, 1996, pp. 3-16

Borgo Sansepolcro. La città nel Museo. Un Museo per la città. La simbiosi realizzata con la Resurrezione di Piero della Francesca, di Centauro G., in “I quaderni dell’arte”, VI, 13, 1996, pp. 40-44

Intendimenti e prospettive di un progetto, di Brilli A., Chieli F., in “Biblioteca d’Arte”, 2, Cinisello Balsamo (Mi), 2002, pp. 7-10

Il Museo Civico di Sansepolcro: una corrispondenza tra i luoghi e le immagini, di Chieli F., in “Biblioteca d’Arte”, 2, Cinisello Balsamo (Mi), 2002, pp. 11-38

resurrezione
Resurrection of Christ

Date: ca. 1460
Materials and Technique: Fresco
Size: 225 cm x ca. 200 cm
Artist: Piero della Francesca (ca. 1412-1416 – 1492)

It is especially in this celebrated fresco that Piero della Francesca’s art reaches its peak in the perfect synthesis of art and science. The risen Christ, on which the most eloquent pages of critical literature have been written, becomes in the collective imagery a universal symbol, a cosmic emblem (Kronig, 1959), a metaphor of contemplation and a tangible sign of the eternal.
Portrayed facing perfectly forward, he rises powerfully on the sarcophagus and immediately holds a crusader flag firmly in his hand. It is the Christ who triumphs over the darkness of death and over the ignorance of the earthly world and the silence of humankind, yet who, at the same time, marks the passing of seasons and times, of life and death.

sanclemente
Pope Saint Clement I Surrounded by the Faithful
Date: 1592
Technique and Materials: Oil on a wooden panel
Size: 237 cm x 186 cm
Artist: Santi di Tito (1536-1603), signed “SANCTES TITIUS FLO. FAC. 1592”
Provenance: Florentine Galleries

In the middle of the scene stands Pope Clement I, exiled to Crimea by Emperor Trajan, while preaching to the Christians among the marble excavators. The subject refers to the miraculous episode in which, through the saint’s intercession, a water source flows out of the place indicated by the symbolic Lamb (pictured in the grove on the right), an obvious allegory of Christ.

glauco_scilla
Glaucus and Scylla

Date: ca. 1576
Technique and Materials: Oil on a wooden panel
Size: 95.6 cm x 140.2 cm
Artist: Jacopo Chimenti known as Empoli (1551-1640)
Provenance: Florentine Galleries

In the painting, with an accentuated horizontal format, the mythological Scylla appears in the foreground drawing back upon the arrival of Glaucus, now transformed into a sea god who has fallen in love with the beautiful nymph. The episode is taken from Ovid’s Metamorphosis, which influenced the arts during Mannerism and the Baroque period, forming a very fruitful repository and primary source of inspiration for the literary, musical, and figurative representation of subjects taken from the myth.

sanludovico
Saint Louis
Date: 1460
Technique and Materials: detached fresco
Size: 123 cm x 90 cm
Artist: Piero della Francesca (ca.1412-1416 to 1492)
Provenance: Sansepolcro, Palazzo Pretorio

The work, of a mainly public character, was painted by Piero della Francesca in a room of Sansepolcro’s Palazzo Pretorio, to celebrate the Florentine captain Lodovico di Odoardo Acciaioli, commissar in Sansepolcro from 3 July 1460 to 3 January 1461.

madonna_misericordia

Our Lady of Mercy

Date: 1445-50 to ca. 1467
Technique and Materials: Painting on a wooden panel
Size: 168 cm x 91 cm
Artist: Piero della Francesca (ca.1412-1416 to 1492)
Provenance: Sansepolcro, Church of Santa Maria della Misericordia (suppressed)

The Misericordia Polyptych, of which this Our Lady of Mercy is part, was commissioned to Piero della Francesca in 1445 by the Confraternity of Mercy. However, the work was not fully completed until the sixth decade of that century (Banker 2010), despite the likely involvement of assistants in the execution of some marginal parts of the polyptych (the predella scenes). There are obvious stylistic, aesthetic as well as technical and executive differences in the individual compartments that confirm that the work was carried out in stages.

assunzione
Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin
Date: 1526-1527
Technique and Materials: Oil on a rounded wooden panel
Size: 382 cm x 234 cm
Artist: Raffaellino del Colle (1594-97 to 1566)
Provenance: Sansepolcro, Church of Santa Maria Maddalena of the Observant Minors (suppressed)

The iconography in which the Assumption and the Coronation are simultaneously depicted was often present in the Observant Minor churches during the 16th century. In Umbria especially, the icons were arranged generally on the high altar, as if to underline their importance to worship and theology.

sanquintino
Martyrdom of Saint Quentin

Date: ca. 1518
Technique and Materials: Oil on canvas
Size: 150 cm x 100 cm
Attributed to: Jacopo Carrucci known as Pontormo (1494-1557)
Provenance: Sansepolcro, Church of Santa Maria Maddalena of Observant Minors (suppressed)

The composition of the Martyrdom of Saint Quentin was influenced primarily by the painting’s liturgical purpose and its placement in a religious building from the beginning. The entire scene is rendered with a style that met the rich local patrons’ requests for devotional images. The rather rare and unusual subject perhaps refers to private worship and, in any case, unusual in the area.

sangiuliano
Saint Julian
Date: ca. 1460
Technique and Materials: detached fresco
Size: 130 cm x 105 cm
Artist: Piero della Francesca (ca.1412-1416 to 1492)
Provenance: Sansepolcro, Church of Santa Chiara (originally of Sant’Agostino)

The “theme” of the Saint Julian appears to have been particularly successful during the 15th century evoking the cultural value attributed to the saint, as the protector of pilgrims and the Hospitallers, already in the Middle Ages. Even if the lower part is mutilated or missing, the young man wears Saint Julian’s “clothes”.

crocifissione

Crucifixion

Date: 1445-50 to ca.1467
Technique and Materials: Painting on a wooden panel
Size: 83.2 cm x 54.5 cm
Artist: Piero della Francesca (ca.1412/1416 – 1492)
Provenance: Sansepolcro, Church of Santa Maria della Misericordia (suppressed)

This Crucifixion is part of the top panel of the Misericordia Polyptych commissioned to Piero della Francesca.

Nativity with the Announcement to the Shepherds, and the Annunciation
Date: ca. 1489
Attributed to Andrea Della Robbia
Provenance: Church of Santa Chiara

The altarpiece with the Nativity, from the church of Santa Chiara, is referred to Andrea Della Robbia. It is an iconographically complex and intricate work, connected to the Della Robbia production from the 1480s. The Nativity with the Announcement to the Shepherds and the Annunciation in the lunette is organized on three registers: at its center is the image of the Nativity scene with shepherds, with the Annunciation above and the Eucharistic Tabernacle Surrounded by Angels and Saints below.
The rigorous arrangement and geometry is accentuated by the side pilasters topped by leafy capitals and by a horizontal entablature, consisting of dentil cornices and a central band with cherubs.

sanleone
Saint Leo the Great
Date: ca. 1535
Technique and Materials: detached fresco
Size: 160 cm x 90 cm
Artist: Raffaellino del Colle (1594-97 to 1566)
Provenance: Sansepolcro, the Oratory of San Leo (suppressed)

The subject represented is, however, connected to the institution of the bishopric, because it represents Pope Leo the Great, the pontiff who stopped Attila’s army that was heading for Rome. It is a clear and explicit allusion, then, to the events in Sansepolcro’s at that time when the Medici pope intervened in support of the local episcopate.

Address

Civic Museum of Sansepolcro
Via Niccolò Aggiunti, 65
52037 Sansepolcro, Arezzo, Italy
Telephone: +39 0575 732218
Fax: +39 0575 732218
Website | E-mail

Opening hours

Winter
16 September – 14 June
10.00 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2.30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Summer
15 June – 15 September
10,00 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. / 2.30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Closed
: 25 December, 1January

Ticket sales end 20 minutes before closing time.

Tickets

Full price: € 8.00
Reduced price:
over 65 years of age, groups of at least 10 people, and young people from 19 to 25 years: € 5.00; 10 to 18 years of age: € 3.00
Free admission:
children 0 to 10 years of age; journalists; military personnel

Services

reception
cloakroom
lockers
booklets for the visit
toilets including one for the differently abled
elevator
shop and bookshop

Other information

For people with disabilities, the museum is accessible on the ground floor and basement. The tower, however, is not accessible.

Guided tours of the museum and the city:
Saturdays, by appointment:
€ 13 each; € 9 for groups with a minimum of 10 people.

To book, call:
Arezzo Area Guide Center
Corso Italia, 156 – 52100 Arezzo
tel/fax 0575.403319; cell. 334.3340608
www.centroguidearezzo.it, info@centroguidearezzo.it