Santa Maria del Carmine and the Cappella Brancacci
Maria del Carmine and the Cappella Brancacci complex is located in
Oltrarno, just off the Piazza del Carmine. It has a nondescript
exterior, one that gives little indication of being a church, and even
less of an indication that the art that launched the Renaissance is
contained within. The Maria del Carmine (whose cloister courtyard is
shown to the left) was set up Carmelite friars from Pisa in the 1200's.
Barely visible in the picture to the left are the frescoes that line
the upper walls of the cloisters. The main attraction, however, is the
Brancacci Chapel located behind the cloisters. An ornate Cappella,
the Brancacci Chapel is an ornate affair. the photo to the right shows
the vault at the end of the chapel, opposite the altar. (The
photographs are all a bit grainy, as the chapel is very dark, and no
flash photography is permitted.
Equally impressive is the altar located to the right of the pews in the Brancacci chapel, a series of large candelabras in front of a large pipe organ. I must apologize, for I am no expert on the layout and decor of Renaissance Chapels. The altar area, however, I do know a bit about. It contains a series of frescoes begun by Masolino da Pincale in 1424, commissioned by Felice Brancacci, a wealthy Florentine merchant. Four years later, Massacio took over for Masolino, but died later that year. The remainder of the frescoes were completed much later (in the 1480's) by Filippino Lippi. The original frescoes by Masolino dealt with the life of St. Peter, but the completed set of panels begin with Adam and Eve. Of course, the masterpiece here is Massacio's Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise. (bottom left) This is one of the earliest examples of realism created through the use of chiaroscuro and linear perspective, both of which set the tone for much of the Renaissance. However, it is interesting to note that this painting is but one small panel in the upper left hand corner of the altar area. Equally notable is the comparison of Massacio's profoundly vivid and real depiction of St. Peter, which contrasts markedly with the more otherworldly St. Peter of Masolino. One could say that the spirit of Renaissance painting began with this single obscure panel of the Branacci Chapel.
|Frescoes of the Branacci Chapel
[Click on Photos to Enlarge, Hit Browser "Back" Arrow to Return to this Page]
|West Wall (Clockwise from top left): The Expulsion of Adam and Eve, The Tribute Money, St. Peter Enthroned, The Raising of Theophilus' Son, St. Paul Visiting St. Peter in Prison
||The Altar Area (Clockwise, from very top left): St.
Peter Weeping, The Denial of Christ, Baptism of the Neophytes, The
Death of Ananias, St. Peter Healing with His Shadow, St. Peter Preaching
||The East Wall (Clockwise, form top left): The
Healing of the Cripple, The Raising of Tabitha, Original Sin, The
Liberation of St. Peter, St. Peter and Simon Magus before Nero, The
Crucifixion of St. Peter