Sacred Art Museum
Montespertoli

Located just outside the town center in the rectory of the historic Parish Church of San Piero in Mercato, the Museum displays paintings, sculptures, decorative objects and precious metal objects dating to various periods from churches around the area.


Montespertoli, Sacred Art Museum

The museum

The Sacred Art Museum in Montespertoli was inaugurated in 1996. The asset of works of art collected in the Museum comes from the parish church of San Pietro in Mercato and its diocese, but also from the churches of other two sub-dioceses (“pivieri” in italian) namely the ancient ecclesiastical groupings considered as autonomous historical-cultural realities.

The correspondence between a large part of the pivieri’s territory of and that of the current Municipality of Montespertoli, has led to arrange the works of art in the Museum based upon the pivieri: paintings, silverware and wooden furnishings coming from the same church are exhibited in the same room but, for conservation reasons (climate and light) given the fragility of the materials, a special section for vestments and manuscripts has been provided for.

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Works by great masters, multimedia reconstructions with voices and stories from the territory and the communities it hosts, archaeological finds and historical arts and crafts: every museum in the area offers great little stories to discover.

Art

Madonna and Child (last decades of the 15th century)

Attributed to Filippo di Antonio Filippelli

Detached fresco from the parish church di Santa Maria a Coeli Aula – Montespertoli.

The fresco depicting the Madonna in red robe and blue mantle is seated on a Renaissance throne and holds the standing Child Jesus, was detached for conservation reasons in the 1970′.  The artist, whose name is not certain, has a style that is similar to that of Domenico Ghirlandaio and might be Filippo di Antonio Filippelli. A not very famous Florentine artist but a contemporary and possibly a collaborator of more famous masters, such as Cosimo Rosselli, he has been recognized as the artist of important frescoes in various centres of the Florentine countryside, from Badia di Passignano to the ancient parish church of Sant’Appiano near Barberino Val d’Elsa. The inscriptions at the bottom of both the fresco of the Madonna and also in the fresco depicting Saints Anthony Abbot and Lucy, also preserved inside the Museum of Sacred Art of San Piero in Mercato in Montespertoli, are not currently decipherable due to the extreme state of consumption affecting this pictorial surface.

Art

Madonna and Child (c. 1440-1445)

Filippo Lippi

From the church of Sant’Andrea a Botinaccio – Montespertoli.

The small, centred tempera panel depicts the Virgin looking absorbed and slightly melancholy almost detached from the Child Jesus whom she holds on her knees, supporting his head on a precious cloth cushion, both set in an elegant Renaissance apse. The painting owes its charm to a great compositional simplicity and to the details that allow the daily life of the period to be perceived, without destroying the image’s holiness. The Madonna is seated inside an extremely linear niche, with squared panels at the two sides, a simple barrel vault and a sort of small apse in the shape of a shell, a symbol of the Resurrection. The Virgin has an absorbed and slightly melancholic look, almost detached from the Child that she is holding on her lap, supporting His head on a precious cloth pillow.
An exceptionally transparent veil covers her long blonde hair, adorned by a red stripe that reflects the Florentine fashion of the times. However, it is the little Jesus who offers the most touching image, rendered in a completely childlike naturalness and wrapped in the typical swaddling clothes commonly used for new-borns, of which this painting offers us extraordinary documentary evidence as it depicts them in each minute detail, from the red edging that encircles His shoulders to the pleated fabric that comes out to cover His feet. The group of the two figures set in perfect architecture ties in very well iconographically with a group of small but imposing Madonnas: the Baltimore Madonna from the Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence and the Washington Madonna.

Art

Baptismal font (middle of the 12th century)

Skilled tuscan workers

From the church of Santo Stefano, Lucignano.

The workmanship of the marble and the relief makes this work an exceptional example of Romanesque sculpture, not rare in the Montespertoli area. From the small basin’s external surface, three suggestive heads of men sculpted with barbaric hairstyles emerge. One is looking forward -presumably to mark the centre -and the two on the sides, are turned threequarters towards the same direction: the physiognomic features are simple and elementary, but not devoid of an expressive power, that define the style of medieval artists in the first half of the 12th century.
Confirming the original baptismal destination of the piece would be the inscription running along the upper edge ” HIC LAPIS GESTAS UNDAM QUE CRIMINA TEGAT” and spaced by two dots the name of the probable stone mason “EGO BO” followed by a cross. The work’s rather small size, in fact, led to its later use as a holy water stoup: as such it continued to be used into the 1970’s, when it was taken down from the counter-façade of the church of Santo Stefano a Lucignano, and later placed in the museum in 1995.
The presence of this artifact in Lucignano is of particular interest because the church of Santo Stefano depended on the parish church of San Pancrazio, and it is quite rare to find in a suffragan church marble furnishings from the Romanesque period and in particular a baptismal font: that parish churches, and in the territory of Montespertoli there were three, were the main churches and each of them had a baptismal font, inside.

Art

Gèmellion (c. 1240-1260)

French production (Limoges)

From the church of San Lorenzo, Montegufoni.

This kind or Dasin was used in ancient rimes for the bathing of hands and not necessarily for a religious function, but also for a secular one. The gémellion was generally made of two equal pieces, that is twins (gemelli), from which the name that connotes its typology originated: one was used to pour water and the other, held below, to collect it. The basin, in predominantly dark tones (green, red, brown, blue), has a spherical cap, central depression, and a decorated enamel surface with geometric, leaf and heraldic motif. The reverse has an incised decoration, with a rosette in the centre surrounded by a series of arch-like patterns. A triangular shield with lily motifs surrounded by three fantastic animals, interpreted as the coat-of-arms of ancient France, dominates the central part of the recto. On the external part, there are six elegant and stylized female figures with open arms, on a blue background, that support as many medallions; each has a different coat-of-arms with various symbols, some of which have been tentatively identified with ancient French families (Bar, France-Castile, Dreux-Brittany). The outer edge is decorated with a saw-toothed swag motif.

The refined execution, the technical perfection of the object, but also the decorative and stylistic motifs of the small female figures and fantastic animals unrelated to the Italian art tradition, reveal it as an object from ish century Limoges, leading us to consider the cultural exchanges that, since ancient times, existed between the countries on the other side of the Alps and the churches and villages of the Valdelsa.

The land

Montespertoli’s significant history is hardly surprising considering its geographic position, which made the town an important center of trade as early as the 11th century. Here, landscape and history come together to create a “composite of the Tuscan bel paese“.

A little more than 25 km from Florence, 50 km from Siena and 60 km from Pisa, a scenario of nature, history, museums and castles opens up, introducing us to a true and genuine environment, far from the usual tourist destinations. Here high-quality local products can be tasted. Montespertoli, a nearby village with ancient traditions, a territory not difficult to reach, capable of transporting you within a landscape of which you immediately feel part of.

The village’s medieval origins are still visible today in ruins scattered around the area, along with older vestiges of Roman and Etruscan settlements. Here, landscape and history come together to create a “composite of the Tuscan bel paese,” where human intervention has left room for native flora and fauna as well as numerous historical and archeological sites.

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  • Memories
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Useful information

Contacts

Sacred Art Museum
(Museo di Arte Sacra di Montespertoli)
Via San Piero in Mercato, 233
50025 – Montespertoli (Firenze)
tel. +39 0571 600255
e-mail: ufficioturistico@comune.montespertoli.fi.it
info@visitmontespertoli.it

Opening hours

summer season
(from April 1 to October 31)

Saturdays, Sundays and holidays
10 am – 1 pm and 5 pm- 7 pm


winter season

(from November 1 to March 31)

Saturdays, Sundays and holidays
10 am – 12 pm and 3 pm – 5 pm

Tickets

Combined ticket
(including The Vine and Wine Museum and the Amedeo Bassi Museum)

Regular: € 5,00
Reduced: € 3,00

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