The frescoed lunette from Porta alla Croce, the city gate in piazza Beccaria, has been restored and moved permanently to the conference room at the Oblate Library. Originating in the sixteenth century, the artistic detail attributed to Michele di Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio shows the Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist and St. Ambrose.
The fine arts department at the Palazzo Vecchio has ascertained that the frescoes featured on Florence’s old city gates would benefit from being moving to the library near the Duomo as part of the ongoing campaign to restore the monuments. The first fresco relocated to above the welcome desk at the central library was the Madonna and Child with Saints, also attributed to Michele di Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio, from the Porta a Prato.
“This new location for the frescoes is a way to preserve them from damage caused by the elements, while also beautifying the recently renovated conference room and the other spaces at the library,” explained Tommaso Sacchi, city councillor for culture.
The Porta alla Croce fresco was restored by Giuseppe Rosi in 1959 and 1960 on behalf of the Committee for City Aesthetics, which was founded in the August of 1955 and chaired by Mayor Piero Bargellini. At the time, the fresco was detached from the gate’s wall, cut at the base and affixed to three masonite panels. Ending in December 2019, the most recent restoration consisted in chemical analysis of the original materials and historical observations to regain the painting that had long been exposed to the outdoors next to a busy main road.