The Brancacci Chapel is housed in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, looking over the large and beautiful Piazza after its name.
In the second half of the 15th century, the religious complex formed by the Church and the Convent di Santa Maria del Carmine was the imposing Florentine seat of the Carmelite Order.
The construction of the Church was carried on thanks to the testamentary legacy of Cione di Tifa di Rinieri Vernacci, father of Petrello, the Ghibelline who took part in 1280 in the signature of a treaty of peace -for the umpteenth time- with the Guelphs, thanks to the intercession of Pope Niccolò III, acting in his name the Cardinal Latino Frangipane. That treaty allowed many Ghibellines who had been outlawed by the Guelphs to return to Florence.
The building of the Church started in 1268 and concluded in 1476. Its original design is either attributed to the well-known Gothic architect Lapo Tedesco (Italianized name of a German architect who went to reside in Colle Val d’Elsa, Florence) or to his most famous son Arnolfo di Cambio (1240 ca. -1302 ca.). On the other hand, considering the long lasting of the work, there are not accurate particulars about the architects who were involved in its construction.
In 1422 the Church was consecrated in the presence of the Archbishop Amerigo Corsini.
The scenes representing its consecration were frescoed in the Cloister by the Tuscan brilliant painter Masaccio * (1401-1427 ca.). Unfortunately, that frescoes cycle once popularly known as “La Sagra” was seriously damaged, almost certainly during the restoration work of the Cloister in 1600 ca.
Massaccio, nickname of Tommaso Cassai, deeply influenced by the architecture of Filippo Brunelleschi and by the sculpturing work of Donatello, is believed as the main pictorial master of the early Renaissance in Italy.
His improvement in the use of the perspective’s technique, in the realism of his vigorous-looking of the foreshortenings marked by powerful rounded forms, as well as in the use of the light to delineate the body and its draperies, established the modern age in painting.
Massacio was probably the painter who exerted a major influence on Michelangelo.
Furthermore than his extraordinary frescoes in the Cloister of the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine and in the there housed Brancacci Chapel, the most celebrated works of his very active life and untimely ended existence are: the fresco “Trinity” (1425 ca, in the Florence’s Duomo) and the altarpiece in the Chiesa di Santa Maria del Carmine in Pisa (1426) which central panel called “The Adoration of the Magi” is currently displayed in the Staatliche Museum in Berlin.
The Church of Santa Maria del Carmine is featured by a medieval structure. Its sides maintain some significant traces of the original Romanesque Gothic design. Since the ending of its construction until 1600 ca, when the first remodelling was carried on, the features of the Church remained unaltered. The façade was never completed and, on the other hand, the Campanile ought to be rebuilt, because of a fire in 1771. That colossal fire destroyed also a big part of the Church, but fortunately the Brancacci Chapel was not affected.
The rebuilding of the Church was made by the prestigious Italian architect Giulio Mannaioni (who had been also involved in the construction of the Teatro alla Pergola in Florence) on a project of the eminent Florentine architect from the 18th century Giuseppe Ruggieri .The work concluded in 1782.
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Oltrarno Side of Florence
The Cathedrals : Basilica di San Miniato al Monte, Cappella Brancacci, Santo Spirito
Main Monuments : Palazzo Pitti, Piazzale Michelangelo, Ponte Vecchio
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