Arciconfraternita di Misericordia (21)
The collection of the Arciconfraterinta della Misericordia is housed in the historic Roffia Palace, an elegant late sixteenth-century construction in Renaissance Tuscan style, characterized by a white plastered façade with mouldings in pietra serena (fine-grain sandstone) adorning the doorway and windows. It was built to a design by one of the sons of the architect Baccio d'Agnolo, on commission from Tommaso Roffia. The museum is laid out in a large room on the first floor of the building, and consists of a considerable collection of works of art, religious accoutrements and devotional objects linked to the institutional function of the Arciconfraternita. These objects enable the visitor to retrace the history of this important institution, an integral part of the community of San Miniato for centuries. Among the objects connected with its role in assistance to the sick, of particular interest is the antique horse-drawn ambulance, dating to the nineteenth century, and the eighteenth-century lanterns, still used today for important religious celebrations. The collection also comprises precious reliquaries, including one containing the stole of Saint Charles Borromeo, which came into the collection through the ties of kinship linking the Borromeo and the Roffia families, as well as precious works of art from the Mediaeval, Renaissance and Baroque periods. These include the wooden group of the Deposition consisting of almost life-size figures of Christ, the Virgin and St. John . The work, which comes from the sacristy of the chapel of the Santissima Trinità and dates to the end of the thirteenth century, is of particular interest not only for the fineness of composition and the dramatic charge, but also because it testifies to the diffusion of such iconography in Tuscany at this early date. Originating instead from the ancient Oratory of Santa Maria del Fortino is the panel painting portraying the Coronation of the Virgin dated 1480, and recentely attribuited to Domenico di Zanobi, a pupil of Filippo Lippi. In the centre of the altarpiece is a small ancon showing the Virgin and the Christ Child in benediction being carried to heaven by angels with multicoloured wings, while above God the Father proffers the crown to Mary surrounded by cherubs. The latter were the angels considered closest to God in the thought of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, which was intently studied at the time in the Florentine intellectual circles imbued with Platonism, the ambience in which the artist trained alongside Lippi. Attending the divine event are impressive figures of Saints Bartholomew, Cosmas, Luke, Damian and Sebastian. Also exceptionally fine is the Madonna and Child by Francesco Lanfranchi, known as Spillo, brother of the more famous Andrea del Sarto. This work can be dated around the third decade of the sixteenth century, at the time when the artists was working on the panels for the tabernacles of the Loretino. Finally, we would also mention the paintng portraying Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Cecilia and Saint Joseph, with putti and clouds above them, a work by Vincenzo Dandini, one of the pupils of Pietro da Cortona, that can be dated in the early decades of the seventeenth century.