The Montespertoli Museum
of Sacred Art

VALDELSA

The Montespertoli Museum of Sacred Art was inaugurated in 1996. The museum’s patrimony comes from both the Parish Church of San Pietro in Mercato and its suffragans as well as from the churches of two other parish jurisdictions, i.e., those ancient ecclesiastical groupings considered as autonomous historical-cultural institutions.

Most of the parish jurisdictions’ territory corresponded to that of the current municipality of Montespertoli. This has led to organizing the works on the basis of the individual parish jurisdictions, so the paintings, silver works and wooden furnishings coming from the same churches are exhibited in the same rooms. However, for conservation reasons (humidity and light), considering the fragility of the materials, liturgical hangings and vestments as well as manuscripts are found in a special section.

The first room of the museum, known as the Large Hall, has been devoted to the parish jurisdiction of San Piero in Mercato with works from the parish church tied to its ancient patrons, the Machiavellis. Exhibited alongside them are paintings, silver works and furnishings from the Church of San Lorenzo a Montegufoni, under the patronage of the Acciaioli family (Madonna and child by Lippo di Benivieni, gémellion from the 13th century, Roman silver works from Cardinal Niccolò Acciaioli), not to mention the works from small churches that have now disappeared.

Called the “Green Hall” because of the wall color, the museum’s second hall is dedicated entirely to the Churches of Santa Maria alla Torre and of San Bartolomeo a Tresanti, with paintings, silver works, and furnishings from the 17th and 18th centuries.

The third hall, called the “Yellow Hall” because of the faux yellow tapestry, houses works from the parish jurisdictions of Santa Maria a Coeli Aula and of San Pancrazio, among which the Madonna and Child by Filippo Lippi and a rare carved-marble baptismal font from the mid-12th century are to be pointed out.

The Hall of Hangings and Vestments and of Manuscripts bears further witness to the area’s wealth as well as to the museum’s activity that, in the year 2000, saw its collection become richer with the acquisition of the 1456 manuscript, Rituale per la benedizione del fonte battesimale del sabato santo, related to Francesco Machiavelli.

Short Bibliography

Geografia storica delle sedi umane. I castelli del contado fiorentino. Francovich R., Firenze, 1973.

La chiesa fiorentina. Calzolai C. C., Firenze, 1970.

Arte in Valdelsa. Dal Poggetto P., Firenze, 1963, note: catalogo della mostra.

La Mostra “Arte in Valdelsa” a Certaldo. Zeri F., articolo di giornale n. XLVIII, pagine: 245-258, 1963, note: in “Bollettino d’Arte”, XLVIII, IV, fasc. III.

Chiese romaniche in Val di Pesa e in Val di Greve. Moretti, Stopani R., Firenze, 1962.

Gli Acciaioli a Firenze nella luce del loro tempo. Della Berardenga U., Firenze, 1962.

Les gémellions limousins du XIII siècle. Marquet de Vasselot J. J., Parigi, 1952.

Zanobi Machiavelli. Berenson B., articolo di giornale n. vol. XCII, pagine: 345-349, 1950, note: in “The Burlington Magazine”, vol. XCII, n. 573.

Rationes Decimarum Italiae nei secoli XIII e XIV. Giusti M., Guidi P., Città del Vaticano, 1942, note: in “Studi e Testi”.

Mostra del Tesoro di Firenze Sacra. Firenze, 1933, note: catalogo della mostra.

Opere d’arte inedite alla Mostra del Tesoro di Firenze. Castelfranco C., articolo di giornale n. XV, pagine: pp. 75-93, 1933, note: in “Rivista d’Arte”, XV, serie II, Fasc. V.

La Mostra del Tesoro di Firenze Sacra. La pittura. Rossi F., pagine: 214-235, 1933, note: in “Bollettino d’Arte”, XXVII, III, fasc. V.

Archittetura romanica in Toscana. Salmi M., Milano, 1928.

Toponomastica della valle dell’Arno. Pieri S., Roma, 1919.

La Valdelsa. Guida storico-artistica. Cioni M., Firenze, 1911.

Guida illustrata della Val di Pesa. Guarducci T., San Casciano, 1904, note: rist. anast. San Casciano 1980.

Monografia storica e statistica del Comune di Montespertoli. Nardi Dei M., Firenze, 1873.

Dizionario geografico fisico storico della Toscana. Repetti E., Firenze, 1883.

Il Museo d’Arte Sacra a Montespertoli. Proto Pisani R. C. R. (a cura di), Firenze, 1995.

Fra Filippo Lippi. Life and Work with a complete catalogue. Ruda, London, 1993.

La strada provinciale n.4 “Volterrana”. Ciampi G., Firenze, pagine: 229-243, 1992, note: in Le strade provinciali di Firenze. Geografia, Storia, Toponomastica, a cura di L. Rombai.

Domenico Pugliani. Spinelli R., Milano, articolo di giornale n., 1989, note: in La pittura in Italia: il seicento.

Il castello di Montegufoni: aggiunte al tardo barocco di ambito fiorentino. Nesi, articolo di giornale n. XXVII n.2 pagine: pp. 10-21, 1988, note: in “Antichità viva”.

Storia e cultura della strada in Valdelsa nel Medio Evo. Stopani R. (a cura di), Firenze, 1986, note: catalogo della mostra.

Il territorio di Montespertoli. Cecconi P., Cuccuini A., Nesi, , Firenze, 1981.

Emozioni al museo: il museo d’arte sacra di Montespertoli. Ragionieri R., Zingoni, Pisa, 2001.

La Chiesa di San Lorenzo a Montegufoni. Pestelli R., Proto Pisani R. C., Seroni M., Montegufoni, 1999.

I Della Robbia e l’arte nuova della scultura invetriata. Gentilini G. (a cura di), Firenze, 1998, note: catalogo della mostra.

Montespertoli: territorio, insediamenti, arte e natura. Naldi R., Pirillo P. Frati M., Empoli, 1996.

Chiese medievali della Valdelsa. I territori della Francigena. Frati M., Stopani R., Empoli, 1995.

Chiese medievali della Valdelsa. AA. VV., Empoli, 1993.

1pianeta

Chasuble – Hall of Hangings and Vestments

Date: first half of the 16th century-first half of the 18th century
Technique and Materials: cross and column: brocatelle; sides: damask
Production: Tuscan
Size: 114 cm. x 71 cm.
Provenance: Church of San Martino a Manzano

Sober and elegant, this chasuble is decorated by the three Eucharistic symbols that appear on the vertical center band, alternating with cherub heads having six crossed wings on the stylized borders.

4adorazione

Adoration of the Magi – Green Hall

Date: late first-early second decade of the 18th century
Technique and Materials: canvas
Size: 220 cm. x 155 cm.
Attributed to: Niccolò Bambini (Venice 1651-1736)
Provenance: Church of Santa Maria a Torre

An inscription on the back of the painting lists the clients, donor, destination, year, and artist: GIO. BATTA ARIANI E GAETANO PRIORE SUO FIGLIO DONARONO A QUESTA CHIESA SOTTO IL TITOLO DI S. MARIA ALLA TORRE LA PRESENTE TAVOLA DEL PITTORE SAGRESTANI NELL’ANNO 1802 IN CUI PRESE POSSESSO IN QUALITÀ DI RETTORE DELLA SOPRA IL SOPRANNOMINATO GAETANO ARIANI. As a matter of fact, the painting is attributable to Niccolò Bambini. The clear, iridescent tones give luminosity to the scene.

7calice

Chalice – Large Hall

Date: dated 1793
Technique and Materials: embossed, chiseled, incised and cast silver, partially gilded
Size: 26 cm. x 12 cm.
Artist: Luigi Salvadori (Florence, documented 1745 – 1799)
Provenance: Parish Church of San Piero in Mercato

This chalice in partially gilded silver bears a stamp with the initials of the artist who made it, Luigi Salvadori, as well as an inscription under the base with the client’s dedication: CAIETANUS MARMORARIUS AEDIR S.P. DONO IN MERCATO A.D. 1793.

13madonna-bambino-trono

Madonna Enthroned with Child and Saints Anthony the Abbot and Julian the MartyrLarge Hall

Date: eighth decade of the 15th century
Technique and Materials: oil on a wooden panel
Size: 115 cm. x 132 cm.
Artist: Neri di Bicci (Florence 1419-1491)
Provenance: Parish Church of San Piero in Mercato, formerly in the Church of San Michele a Mogliano

This altarpiece is characterized by its very vivid colors, whose effect was enhanced by the gold background, now mostly lost. Saint Julian is dressed in 15th-century clothes, according to the Renaissance custom of giving holy figures a contemporary aspect. In the 18th century, it underwent a severe re-painting that transformed him into Saint Michael, perhaps to better assimilate the painting in the Church of San Michele a Mogliano. On the left is Saint Anthony the Abbot who is also recognizable by the pig at his feet.

12madonna-bambino

Madonna and Child – Large Hall

Date: second-third decades of the 14th century Technique and Materials: wooden panel
Size: 80 cm. x 60 cm.
Artist: Lippo di Benivieni (documented 1296 – 1327)
Provenance: Chapel of Calvane or of the Madonna della Neve, later in the Church of San Lorenzo a Montegufoni

A sense of naturalness dominates the execution of the figures, referring to examples of Giotto’s figurative revolution, where the faces were inspired by real ones and bodies assumed an increasingly solid aspect. The panel has undergone various travails, from the obvious cut along the upper edges to the support being split in two when it was stolen in 1985 – an event that ended with its recovery and subsequent restoration.

15navicella-turibolo

Incense boat and thurible – Large Hall

Date: sixth decade of the 18th century – before 1773
Technique and Materials
: embossed, incised, chiseled, engraved and turned silver
Size
: incense boat: 8.5 cm. x 12 cm. x 8 cm.; thurible 26 cm. x 8 cm. x 12 cm.
Artist: Michele Magni (Florence, documented 1741-1780) and Gaspero Arnetoli (Florence, documented 1758-1780)
Provenance: Parish Church of San Piero in Mercato

The stamp MA represents the joint initials of the artists who became workshop colleagues, upon their master’s death, for the commissioned work. The tablet of the fixed valve of the lid reads ANTONS.FRAN.MONALDIUS P.L.F.R.C. The date of the parish priest Montali’s death provides a terminus ante quem.

18sangirolamo

Saint Jerome in the Desert – Large Hall

Date: second decade of the 16th century
Technique and Materials: glazed terracotta
Size: 34.6 cm. x 29.5 cm.
Attributed to: Girolamo della Robbia (Florence 1488 – Paris 1566)
Provenance: Parish Church of San Piero in Mercato

The image of Saint Jerome in the desert was a particularly widespread theme in Tuscany at the beginning of the 16th century, and one of the most beloved by those who were attracted by penitential themes. The saint appears in a cave, kneeling in front of a crucifix, with a cardinal’s cap is on the ground. the lion is waiting for the thorn to be removed from its paw.

22vergine-trono-santi

Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints Peter and Paul – Large Hall

Date: second decade of the 16th century Technique and Materials: panel
Production: Tuscan
Size: 189 cm. x 198 cm.
Provenance: Parish Church of San Piero in Mercato

The panel summarizes elements that belong to both the early and late Renaissance. In line with the new compositional canons of the 16th century, the Madonna appears suspended above the earth, thereby confirming her divinity; the saints are identifiable by their traditional iconographic attributes. The client’s figure is a true portrait as seen by the precision of his hairstyle, realistic profile, and ring.

2madonna-bambino

Madonna and Child – Yellow Hall

Date: 1440-ca. 1445
Technique and Materials: tempera on a wooden panel
Size: 89 cm. x 64 cm.
Artist: Filippo Lippi (Florence 1406?- 1469)
Provenance: Church of Sant’Andrea a Botinaccio

This panel, the most famous in the collection, is representative of the new canons of Renaissance art. The Virgin is seated inside a simple niche, with a barrel vault and an apse in the shape of a shell, a symbol of the Resurrection. She has an absorbed look, almost detached from the Child, rendered in childlike naturalness and wrapped in the typical swaddling clothes commonly used for newborns. The great compositional simplicity and the everyday quality of the image do not change its holiness.

5croce

Processional cross – Green Hall

Date: first half of the 15th century
Technique and Materials: cross: incised and silver-plated copper; Christ: cast and gilded bronze
Production: Tuscan
Size: 44 cm. x 36 cm.
Provenance: Church of Santa Maria a Torre

Its distinctiveness derives from the materials used—silver-plated copper for the cross next to the gilded bronze of the Christ–and from the figures in the panels at the ends: it is Saint Lawrence and Saint Leonard who appear at the sides rather than the mourners, with the Madonna placed at the top and Saint Agnes below. On the back, in the center, is the benedictory Christ, with the mystical lamb above, and Saint Luke below. Saint Paul and another evangelist saint are to the sides.

8calice

Chalice – Large Hall

Date: dated 1742
Technique and Materials: embossed, incised and cast silver
Size: 23.6 cm. x 13 cm.
Artist: Cosimo Mari (Florence, documented ca. 1703-1743)
Provenance: Church of San Lorenzo a Montegufoni

The presence of inscriptions and stamps permits identifying the artist, the client, and the year of execution. Under the base, we read “R.D. SILVANUS MARIANI ANNO 1742”, while in the three stamps under the base are the initials of the artist, Cosimo Mari, the symbol of his workshop, a bee, and the one of the city of Florence.

10coppetta

Cup – Large Hall

Date: dated 1670-1671
Technique and Materials: embossed silver
Size: 2.5 cm. x 11 cm.; diameter 8 cm.
Artist: Antonio Moretti De Amicis (Rome, documented 1652-1687)
Provenance: Church of San Lorenzo a Montegufoni

The cup, probably used for the wine during the pontifical mass, has a stamp portraying two Moor’s-heads, symbol of the Venetian silversmith Antonio Moretti de Amicis. Almost certainly, also in this case, it is a gift from the Acciaiuoli family to the Church of Montegufoni.

14madonna-bambino-santi

Madonna and Child between Saint Lucy and Saint JustusLarge Hall

Date: dated 1400
Technique and Materials: panel
Size: 155 cm. x 142 cm.
Artist: Cenni di Francesco (ca. 1369– ca. 1415 ex notitia)
Provenance: Church of San Giusto a Montalbino

This triptych contains the important record of the date and client’s name. In 1400, Bicci d’Andrea paid for the work in order to offer it to the church of San Giusto a Montalbino. To the sides of the Madonna nursing the Child are Saint Lucy and Saint Justus the Bishop. In the three small panels in the peaks are painted the Announcing Angel, a benedictory Christ, and the Virgin of the Annunciation. Saint Anthony the Abbot, Saint Lawrence, Christ in Pietà, a holy bishop and Saint Catherine are on the predella.

16pisside

Pyx – Large Hall

Date: late 16th century, datable between 1577 and 1600
Technique and Materials: embossed, gilded copper
Production
: Tuscan
Size: 20 cm. x 9 cm.
Provenance: Parish Church of San Piero in Mercato

The lack of ornamentation on this work, in a period characterized by Mannerism’s exuberance, derives from the Church’s wish to safeguard sacred vessels from the pagan decorations that were plentiful in painting, sculpture, and wooden furnishings.

21vergine-bambino-santi

Virgin and Child between Saints Martin and Sebastian – Large Hall

Date: early decades of the 16th century
Technique and Materials: panel
Size: 175 cm. x 162 cm.
Attributed to: Raffaellino del Garbo (Florence 1466 – 1524)
Provenance: Church of San Martino a Manzano

Its provenance from this church is confirmed by the presence on the panel of the dedicatory saint, Bishop Martin of Tours. In this traditional composition, the elements that stand out are the fine curtains, the terracotta-tiled floor in perspective, and, especially, the striking profile of the client, his marked and strongly expressive features portrayed here, which leads to thinking that it was perhaps the portrait of a member of the Guicciardini family.

23vergine-bambino-santi

Virgin and Child between Saints Thaddeus and Simon

Date: fourth decade of the 15th century
Technique and Materials: panel
Workshop of: Bicci di Lorenzo
Size: 163 cm. x 143 cm.
Provenance: Church of San Michele a Quarantola, later in the Church of Sant’Andrea a Botinaccio

The inscriptions on the painting bear valuable witness to its history, as they include the name of its purchaser, Simone di Niccolò da Quarantola, who had the work made for the Church of San Michele a Quarantola and himself portrayed in prayer at the feet of the Virgin.
For stylistic motifs, the triptych can be attributed to the workshop of Bicci di Lorenzo, founder of a dynasty of painters that was on the artistic scene for at least three generations.

3pace

Pax board – Yellow Hall

Date: ca. 1730 -1740
Technique and Materials: incised and embossed silver lamina applied to a brass lamina
Size
: 18 cm. x 14 cm.
Provenance: Church of San Biagio a Poppiano

This tiny but priceless exemplar manages to contain a rich embossed decoration on a small surface. In the center is a Pietà marked by a strong dramatic component, according to the northern Vesperbild iconography. The scene is contained in a closed frame with an angel’s head above that, in turn, is surmounted by a cross.

6poltrona

Armchair with stools – Green Hall

Date: end of the 18th century
Technique and Materials: carved, lacquered, and gilded walnut
Production: Tuscan
Size: armchair: 157 cm. x 77 cm.; stools: 57 cm. x 45 cm. x 31 cm.
Provenance: Parish Church of San Piero in Mercato, formerly Church of San Michele a Mogliano

The coat-of-arms with the initials S.M.O. has been recognized as that of the Confraternity of Santa Maria d’Orsanmichele, which is presumed to have had its seat in the Church of San Michele a Mogliano from where these furnishings, used during the celebration of mass, come. Their high quality is summarized by the two gilded angels to the sides of the armchair’s back and by the cherub heads in full relief that project from each of the three stools.

9calici

Chalices – Large Hall

Date: early decades of the 15th century
Technique and Materials: gilded, embossed and incised copper, traces of enamel
Production: Tuscan
Size: chalice on the left: 21 cm. x 15 cm.; chalice on the right: 20 cm. x 13.2 cm.
Provenance: Church of San Lorenzo a Montegufoni (chalice on the left); Church of San Martino (chalice on the right)

The small tondos that decorate the chalice on the left have lost their original enamel decorations. Only a more recent coat-of-arms with three gold stars remains, which may be likened to the arms of Monsignor Minucci, the Archbishop of Florence. In addition, only a few traces remain of the chalice’s enamels on the right today. However, the tondo decorations on the node are still visible: the crucified Christ between the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Peter the Martyr, Saint Barbara, and Saint Martin.

11madonna-bambino

Madonna and Child – Large Hall

Date: fifth decade of the 15th century
Technique and Materials
: panel
Size: 50 cm. x 38 cm.
Artist: Andrea di Giusto (documented 1427- 1450)
Provenance: Church of Santa Maria a Mensola, later in the Church of San Giusto a Montalbino

The painting, which bears the signs of a very old cut, was likely part of a larger ensemble. The artist’s eclecticism is revealed in many details: while the refined elegance of the fabrics is still part of the Gothic style, the positioning of the holy group and the abandonment of the gold background already imply a new tendency.

17reliquiario

Reliquary – Large Hall

Date: end of the 16th century
Technique and Materials: embossed, chiseled and gilded bronze
Production
: Tuscan
Size: 50 cm. x 14 cm.
Provenance: Parish Church of San Piero in Mercato

This splendid reliquary, with a circular-plan aedicule structure, is surmounted by a small dome with a “fish-scale” roof, below which there is the circular casket containing the relics of Saints James, Andrew, Peter and Paul.

19vasetto-oliosanto

Small jar for holy oil – Large Hall

Date: 1696-ca. 1700
Technique and Materials: incised silver
Size: 9.5 cm. x 4 cm.
Artist: Simone Palmieri (Monte Gilberto 1666 – Rome 1716)
Provenance: Church of San Lorenzo a Montegufoni

The abbreviated inscription on the cover, O S, indicates that the small jar is a container for holy oil. The large coat-of-arms decorating it is that of the ancient Florentine Acciaioli family to which Cardinal Niccolò Acciaioli belonged. During a journey at the end of the 17th century, he stopped at Montegufoni castle and donated two small silver jars with his coat-of-arms; of which this is one.

20vergine-bambino-santi

Virgin and Child between Saints George and Nicholas of Bari – Large Hall

Date: early decades of the 16th century
Technique and Materials: panel
Size: 109 cm. x 125 cm.
Artist: Anonymous Florentine painter
Provenance: Church of San Giorgio, later in the Church of San Lorenzo a Montalbino, and afterward in the Church of San Giusto a Montalbino

The panel exhibits a rather unusual style that is imaginative and refined, as evidenced by the absolute domination of red and dark tones in addition to the sophisticated rendering of some details. First of all, there is Saint George’s headpiece on the left, inspired by one of the expensive and sometimes extravagant, headpieces worn at tournaments and jousts.

Address

The Montespertoli Museum of Sacred Art
Pieve di S. Piero in Mercato, Via S. Piero in Mercato
Montespertoli
Tourist Consortium Telephone: 0571/606068
Website | E-mail

Opening hours

From May to August:
Thursdays-Sundays and holidays: 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and 4 p.m.-7 p.m.

September:
Saturdays, Sundays and holidays: 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and 4 p.m.-7 p.m.

Tickets

The price of the tickets is the same for all the museums in Montespertoli:

FULL 3 Euros
REDUCED 2 Euros (Children 6 – 14, adults over 65, Touring Club members, Carta Giovani, Groups over 15 people, holders of Edumusei Card, ICOM cardholders)
FREE OF CHARGE (Children up to 6 and the differently-abled)

COMBINED TICKET FOR THE SISTEMA MUSEALE DI MONTESPERTOLI
FULL 5 Euros
REDUCED 4 Euros

COMBINED TICKET FOR THE SISTEMA MUSEALE DELLA VALDELSA FIORENTINA
FULL 10 Euros
REDUCED 8 Euros