Monday, August 3, 2015

The Capponi Chapel in Santa Felicita, Florence.

The Chapel

In 1420 Bartolomeo Barbadori commissioned the construction of a chapel in the illustrious church of Santa Felicita, near on the Ponte Vecchio in the Oltrarno neighborhood of Florence. This is one of the oldest chapels designed by Brunelleschi, it is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, most likely to honor an old fresco of the Annunciation destroyed by the construction of the chapel. 

The chapel was built by Brunelleschi in the same period in which he was active in the famous Spedale degli Innocenti and was working on the dome of the Duomo. He had studied a reduced version of it in this very chapel but it was later hidden by later reconstructions. The semi-spherical dome was supported by a cubic hall with four pendentives between the round arches of the walls. In each of them was a blind circular window - now replaced by frescoes. A new feature was also the use of double Ionic semicolumns, instead of the traditional Gothic pilasters. The two columns on the external side are supported by angular Corinthian pilasters. The theme was already used in the Spedale degli Innocenti and was repeated with little variants in the Pazzi Chapel and the Sagrestia Vecchia in San Lorenzo.

In 1487 the chapel was acquired by Antonio Paganelli and his her, Bernardo Paganelli, sold it to the Capponi family in 1525 who had it restored and decorated by Jacopo Pontormo and his young scholar Agnolo Bronzino, making it the Mannerist masterpiece that it is today.

The chapel's altarpiece is the famous "Deposition from the Cross", Pontormo's masterwork, enclosed in its original XVI century frame and executed from 1525 to 1528. On the western wall there are other works by Pontormo: the "Annunciation" (1527-28) - a lovely fresco and the three evangelists in the dome's pendentives, the fourth, St. Mark, is by Bronzino. The stained glass window representing another Deposition (1526) is by Guillaume de Marcillat - the great French stained glass artist who also designed the ones in the choir of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome.

St. Luke.
 St. John.
 St. Matthew.
 St. Mark.

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