Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Neri Chapel

Entrance to the Neri Chapel at S. Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi
A short walk from the Neri residence on Borgo Pinti in Florence is the church of Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi. During Antonio Neri’s lifetime, it was part of a monastery known as Cestello. Although the family's parish church was the much grander San Pier Maggiore, for daily services, the Neri family attended the more intimate Cestello church. It was smaller, yes, but not without its own prestige. The Cistercian monks there hosted meetings of the famed Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, or "Academy of Drawing Arts." As a young boy, Galileo was taught there by court mathematician Ostilio Ricci, and back in the days of the Florentine republic, the monks were charged with responsibility to count votes taken by the city council (Signoria).

Women were not allowed inside the monastery church, but prayed in a separate chapel located just off the street. This chapel was owned by the Del Giglio family and had been built by apothecary Tommaso del Giglio. By the end of the sixteenth century, the family was having trouble maintaining the chapel, and it fell into danger of being taken over by the cobblers' guild, who were holding their meetings inside.

In the late 1590's Antonio Neri's father, the grand duke's personal physician, successfully petitioned to take over the space. He paid for a complete head-to-toe renovation of the chapel, but also of the church itself. While he did not live to see the work completed by artists Poccetti and Passignano, the chapel was renamed in his honor and became his final resting place. Historian Giuseppe Richa noted a plaque on the floor which read:

The mournful children have erected this AD 1598 for the highly celebrated doctor and philosopher Ner[i] Neri, who died with greatest honors in his fatherland.”
The final resting place of Glassmaker Antonio Neri is not known, but the Neri Chapel at Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi stands at the top of the list of possibilities. 

No comments:

Post a Comment