Peruzzi chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

(1320s)
   The Peruzzi Chapel was owned by one of the leading banking families of Florence. Donato di Arnoldo Peruzzi left funds in his will for the construction and decoration of the family chapel at Santa Croce and his grand-nephew, Giovanni di Rinieri Peruzzi, commissioned Giotto in the 1320s to carry out the fresco decorations. Located next to the Bardi Chapel owned by the wealthiest family of Florence and also decorated by Giotto, the Peruzzi Chapel was conceived in direct competition with it. The scenes chosen by Giovanni were the lives of Sts. John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, his namesaints, with the Baptist also acting as the patron saint of the city of Florence. Among the scenes is the ascension of the Evangelist where a floating God the Father pulls the saint up to heaven while astonished individuals with hands clasped in prayer witness the event. The Birth and Naming of the Baptist shows St. Elizabeth attended by the mid-wives during labor, while in the next room the newborn is presented to his father, Zacharias, who busily writes the boy's name on a tablet. Both the Bardi and Peruzzi chapels were whitewashed during the 18th century and restored in the 19th century by incompetent individuals who overpainted the frescoes. Eventually, the excess layers of paint were removed and, unfortunately, the Peruzzi Chapel frescoes are now in deplorable condition. One of the main reasons for this is that Giotto, who by now was in high demand, used a fresco secco technique to render the scenes more rapidly.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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