Dear Readers,

As you may have seen elsewhere, in mid February my wife and I suffered the loss of our home in a fire, in the hills of central Massachusetts. The good news is that we got out safely and had no animals in our care at the time. The fire crews were able to contain the fire from spreading, in what turned into a 3-alarm, 5-hour-long ordeal in subzero temperatures; they did amazing work, and no one was injured. The bad news is that all of my physical historical materials and research of 30 years have gone up in smoke. As a result I have decided to suspend this blog for the time being. It will remain online as a resource for those interested in the history of glass and glassmaking in the seventeenth century and beyond. I do intend to resume writing when I can, but for now my time and energy are required in getting us back on our feet.

Friends are providing temporary shelter for us nearby and our intention is to rebuild as soon as possible. To those who have reached out with a steady hand, to those who have opened their wallets, and offered advice in our time of need, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. In what are already difficult times for all of us, you have made a huge difference in our lives.

Paul Engle
6 March, 2021

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. 

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