Rigor and Grace
The Company of St. Benedict White in the seventeenth century Florentine
10/22/2015 - 05/17/2015 Boboli Gardens, The Costume Gallery, The Museo degli Argenti. A treasure 'secret' he found. A little-known group of works, painted by great artists of the XVII century and carefully restored, have returned to the enjoyment of the public and on display until May next in the rooms attached to the Palatine Chapel in Palazzo Pitti. Made Lorraine period at the behest of Peter Leopold, the chapel is still open for worship, but had so far visited only on rare occasions. The exhibition is a great opportunity to see join the principle of the protection of the territorial heritage of Florence with one of its enhancement, thanks to the restoration carried out specifically and to the new exhibition halls, which are also retrieved and inserted today in circuit visit the Museo degli Argenti . The treasures kept in the exhibition comes almost entirely from the assets of the company of St. Benedict White, who was one of the most important and prestigious Florentine lay groups. Established in 1357 at the monastery of San Salvatore camaldolese, but moved early (1383) in the Dominican convent of Santa Maria Novella, the Company entered under the close spiritual influence of the order of Preachers and found initially based in the current Great Cloister and then, definitively, in some places specially built by Giorgio Vasari in 1570 in the Old Cemetery. Here it remained until the constitution of Florence capital, when the City decided to expand because of Avelli with the demolition of the cemetery enclosure of Santa Maria Novella and the premises of St. Benedict White. The company continued however his first business in a new oratory of Via degli Orti Oricellari and then in the parish of Saint Lucia on the Lawn, which became extinct. One of the last acts of the company was sold to the Archbishop's Curia of Florence around the artistic heritage that had accumulated over the centuries, through commissions or through direct donations of the members: most of the artwork was deposited during the War World in the archdiocesan seminary of basket and there, again, is today. The desire to make more and more lavish the oratory and the headquarters of the brotherhood had in fact prompted many confreres to donate paintings, sacred objects and vestments; what's more, among the members of the Society, as well as members of the Medici family, as well as theologians, philosophers, writers and scientists, there were also many artists: Matteo Rosselli, Jacopo Vignali, Carlo Dolci, the Volterra and Vincenzo Dandini, only name a few. Many of them painted for his devotion some pieces on exhibit which celebrates, for the style and choice of subjects depicted, the spirituality of St. Benedict penitent White, testimoniataci from printed works and manuscripts of Brother Dominic corrector Gori, which the Exercises Spiritual exclusive use of the members, on display. The center of the spirituality of the Society, just to the original derivation Benedictine As for the influence of Gori, was the sacrifice of Christ, the supreme model of perfection that could be approached with a slow and painstaking process of spiritual elevation, played through penances and long interior views. The frequent meditation of that mystery was sorting in the confreres the effect of a real 'empathy', to the point of trying the same 'suffering' - that is, the feelings - experienced by those who was present at the Passion, as the Virgin Mary, St. John and Jesus himself. For this reason, in San Benedetto White were several images that retraced the main stages of the Passion and continually urged the brothers to the spiritual and corporal mortification of themselves. Christ on Calvary, the instruments of the Passion and the Cross were the subjects represented. In the shelter entrance, Vincenzo Dandini had painted an altarpiece with the Prayer of Jesus in, then replaced in 1646 by a painting by the same artist depicting Christ fallen under the cross. The subject of the first panel was revised shortly after by Matteo Rosselli in a fresco located in the head of a loggia flanking the inner courtyard of the Society, called just 'garden', in a close analogy with the Garden of Olives where Christ gave to the principle their agony. In a room located behind the main church where they had placed the confessional, it was placed in 1653 the canvas here is attributed to Agostino Melissi, depicting the Flagellation of Christ at the Column, the subject of which should be understood in relation to the practice of 'discipline' - ie the autofustigazione - that the brothers were practicing in that environment (the rope on the first floor of the painting refers explicitly). In addition to the paintings in the company, the theme of the Passion was disclosed by little pictures or images to print - for example, the Ecce Homo by Carlo Dolci or wounded Christ Volterrano, artists both members of San Benedetto White - for often brothers friends, for private and domestic use, such as continuous visual reminders to turn his thoughts to the loving sacrifice of Christ and his suffering, act of redemption for humanity. The largest donation received by the Company is the series of eight paintings on biblical subjects that the brother Gabriel Zuti was made to paint their homes in the second half of the forties of the seventeenth century, and he left to San Benedetto to his death in White 1680. It is a single cycle, with masterpieces by some of the greatest artists of the XVII century, with subjects taken from the Old Testament - chosen with the help of some learned confrere - alluded to specific occasions of family life of Zuti, marked indelibly by the tragedy of the plague in 1630. We remember Jacob and Esau, Lorenzo Lippi, Jael and Sisera Ottavio Vannini, Finding of Moses by Jacopo Vignali, Jeroboam and the prophet Ahijah of Vincenzo Dandini, Repudiation of Aga John Martinelli, Healing of Tobit Mario Balassi, Susanna and the Elders of Agostino Melissi, Lot and his daughters Simone Sprockets. Special mention deserve the two tables of Cristofano Allori (which modern restoration has deservedly brought back to life, by stopping the damage in the flood of 1966), depicting St. Benedict and St. Julian: They were originally merged to form the largest shovel which shielded the relics placed in the enormous altar-shrine of the Company and that, thanks to a mechanism of court, could be spectacularly raised for their exposition.