A treasure trove of restored art is on display in the Palatine Chapel, located within the Pitti Palace’s Silver Museum. Until May 17, 2016, the exhibition Rigour and Grace: The Society of San Benedetto Bianco in 17th-century Florence allows visitors a rare glimpse of a holy space and artworks.
Agostino Melissi, (?1615/16 circa – Florence, 1683), Flagellation of Christ on the Column
The works come almost entirely from the estate of the Society of San Benedetto Bianco, a religious group founded at the Camaldolese monastery of San Salvatore that moved to Florence in 1383, eventually making their home in the Old Cemetery of Santa Maria Novella and residing in buildings constructed by Giorgio Vasari. The buildings were torn down in order to widen via degli Avelli when Florence became the national capital in 1865, and the confraternity moved to the parish of Santa Lucia sul Prato, where they eventually died out.
Over the centuries, the confraternity boasted many prominent artists within its ranks, including Matteo Rosselli, Carlo Dolce, “il Volterrano” and Vincenzo Dandini. One of the religious order’s last acts was to hand over its impressive collection of religious artwork to the Archbishop of Florence.
Vincenzo Dandini (Florence, 1609-75), Christ Fallen Underneath the Cross
The artwork focuses on the Passion of Christ, a theme of great spiritual importance for the confraternity. The brothers believed that meditation on Christ’s sacrifice, along with spiritual and physical mortification, could allow them to reach higher levels of spirituality.
Works on display include Dandini’s painted altarpiece The Prayer of Jesus in the Garden, the Wounded Christ by il Volterrano, and a series of eight paintings commissioned by the brother Gabriello Zuti in 1614, including Lorenzo Lippi’s Jacob and Esau.
In addition to the artwork, the exhibition also offers visitors a rare glimpse inside the Palatine Chapel, built in the late 18th century for the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, which remains in use for worship but was previously only accessible to visitors on rare occasions.
Il rigore e la grazia: La compagnia di San Benedetto Bianco nel Seicento fiorentino
Palatine Chapel, Palazzo Pitti, piazza Pitti, Florence
Until May 16, 2015
Opening times: October 8.15am–6.30pm; November – February 8.15am-4.30pm; March 1-24 8.15am–5.30pm; March 25–31, April, May 8.15am–6.30. Closed on the first and last Monday of the month.
Tickets: 10 euro; concessions 5 euro
Reservations optional; 055 294883