Frescoes in the Bardi di Vernio Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence (c. 1335)
by MASO DI BANCO

The Bardi di Vernio Chapel in Santa Croce is one of the ten that were built at the same time as the transept between 1295 and 1310. It is located in the northern arm of the transept. The chapel was frescoed c. 1335 by Maso di Banco, one of Giotto's pupils and followers. Patronage of this chapel was not transferred to the Bardi di Vernio until 1602. In the fourteenth century it was the Bardi di Mangona, a branch of the family named after the Castello di Mangona near Florence, who were its patrons.

The theme chosen for the frescoes was the story of St Sylvester, who reigned as pope from 314 to 335 and who cured Emperor Constantine the Great from leprosy by persuading him to convert to Christianity and to close the empire's pagan temples. The pictorial program is based on the Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine.

The cycle begins in the lunette on the left (north) wall with Constantine's refusal to bathe in the blood of the innocents to cure himself of leprosy. This is followed by the emperor's dream in which Peter and Paul appear to advise him to send for Pope Sylvester, as he was the only one who could cure him of his condition. Following on the right (south) wall is the pope's encounter with the emperor: Constantine recognizes the apostles Peter and Paul on the painting that Sylvester shows him, allows himself to be baptized, and recovers his health. Beneath these scenes appear two miracles by Sylvester: the Miracle of the Bull and the Miracle of the Dragon.

None of the other painters of his generation confronted the problem of bringing the pictorial field, the pictorial space, and the figures into a homogenous whole to the extent that Maso did in the chapel. The construction of his pictorial spaces has a geometric clarity to which the figures are subordinated.

The frescoes underwent extensive restoration in the 1990s.

Preview Picture Data Info
View of the Bardi di Vernio Chapel from the Southwest
c. 1335
Fresco
Cappella di Bardi di Vernio, Santa Croce, Florence


Emperor Constantine Refuses to Bathe in the Blood of the Innocents
c. 1335
Fresco
Cappella di Bardi di Vernio, Santa Croce, Florence


Resurrection and Judgment
c. 1335
Fresco
Cappella di Bardi di Vernio, Santa Croce, Florence


Entombment
c. 1335
Fresco
Cappella di Bardi di Vernio, Santa Croce, Florence


Sts Peter and Paul Appear to Emperor Constantine in a Dream
c. 1335
Fresco
Cappella di Bardi di Vernio, Santa Croce, Florence


Frescoes on the south wall
c. 1335
Fresco
Cappella di Bardi di Vernio, Santa Croce, Florence


Pope Sylvester Baptizes Emperor Constantine
c. 1335
Fresco
Cappella di Bardi di Vernio, Santa Croce, Florence


The Miracle of the Bull (detail)
c. 1335
Fresco
Cappella di Bardi di Vernio, Santa Croce, Florence


The Miracle of the Dragon
c. 1335
Fresco, width 534 cm
Cappella di Bardi di Vernio, Santa Croce, Florence


The Miracle of the Dragon
c. 1335
Fresco, width 534 cm
Cappella di Bardi di Vernio, Santa Croce, Florence


The Miracle of the Dragon (detail)
c. 1335
Fresco
Cappella di Bardi di Vernio, Santa Croce, Florence


The Miracle of the Dragon (detail)
c. 1335
Fresco
Cappella di Bardi di Vernio, Santa Croce, Florence


The Miracle of the Dragon (detail)
c. 1335
Fresco
Cappella di Bardi di Vernio, Santa Croce, Florence



Paintings by MASO DI BANCO
Frescoes in the Bardi di Vernio Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence (c. 1335)
Various paintings



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