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February 19, 2021

The lunettes in the Chiostro Grande of Santa Maria Novella shine again

A work of high artistic value, in the largest cloister in the city

The Great Cloister, built between 1340 and 1360, is part of the convent of Santa Maria Novella and is the largest cloister in the city.

In the years 1562-1592, the architect Giulio Parigi, commissioned by Eleonora da Toledo, wife of Grand Duke Cosimo I, proceeded with the fresco decoration, commissioning the work to various artists of the time, such as Bernardino Poccetti, Santi di Tito, Ludovico Cigoli and Alessandro Allori.

In the 18th century, the stone elements of the cloister were rearranged and some of the empty lunettes were painted. The cycle of frescoes, which unfolds in 52 lunettes, is considered one of the most representative examples of Counter-Reformation painting for the breadth, iconographic programme and didactic clarity of the stories. It focuses on the life of St Dominic and other Dominican saints. The corner bays depict scenes from the life of Christ.

The 1966 flood in Florence caused considerable damage to the paintings.
But today the six lunettes on the east side of the Chiostro Grande of Santa Maria Novella, including the five portraits of Dominican monks in the cross vault under the capitals between the lunettes, and the first corner lunette on the south side, have been restored and now have new lighting.


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