Santa Maria Novella’s refectory is currently hosting With Juice of Herbs and Green Earth: Paolo Uccello’s Chiostro Verde Frescoes Restored, featuring a fresco cycle by the Early Renaissance master and several of his collaborators. Created for the green cloister of Santa Maria Novella, these frescoes underwent restoration by the Opificio delle Pietre Dure from 2011 to 2014, and will be on display in the refectory for approximately one year before being returned to their original location.
Depicting key scenes from the Book of Genesis, the paintings are part of a larger narrative that extends throughout the green cloister. Paolo Uccello probably painted the scenes of Creation and Original Sin in the 1430s after a trip to Venice. The depictions of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden and the animals entering Noah’s ark were completed by painters trained in the late Gothic style, part of Uccello’s circle of assistants. The most well-known work in the cycle is Uccello’s Flood and Waters Subsiding, widely considered a masterpiece of the Early Renaissance.
Prior to the restoration, all of the frescoes had been adversely affected by the dampness of the cloister walls, and the lower portions took a particularly bad blow after Florence’s 1966 flood. The City of Florence is currently examining long-term solutions for how to safely and effectively return these works to their original location, in addition to planning the next phases of the ongoing Green Cloister restoration project.