Sunday, September 16, 2012
A visit to Santa Croce
After a week in Florence, finally visited the church and museum of Santa Croce (the Franciscan church). A somewhat odd collection of tombs and monuments to illustrious Italians inside the cappella maggiore of the basilica, including Marconi, Machiavelli, Dante, Giotto, and others. I suppose the Prince could have used radio to good effect had it been invented then. Also in the nave, near a door opening on the courtyard, is the Annunciation by Donatello, created around 1435.
This architectural wall sculpture was used as an altarpiece in the Cavalcanti family chapel. In the 16th century, Vasari renovated the whole church and this chapel was destroyed, but Donatello’s piece was saved and placed elsewhere. The Annunciation is made of pietra serena, a dark stone typical to Florence and more commonly used for architectural elements such as columns, and gold leaf impressed in the stone.
But our main objective was to view the large wooden crucifix of Cimabue, prominently displayed in the museum section of the complex. What a shock to see it in such poor condition, so unlike this old reproduction, with much of the face and body obliterated. I understand this was a result of the terrible flood Florence suffered in 1966, but why has no restoration work been done on this important work?