Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art
The Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art occupies the premises once used as the sacristies of the adjacent Cathedral of Santa Maria e Genesio. It houses the richest collection of works of art in the town of San Miniato, a genuine treasure chest of the religious and artistic evidence from the territory of the diocese ranging in date from the thirteenth to eighteenth century. The museum was set up in 1966 to provide a fitting site for the works of art originating from the most important churches of the city and the surrounding rural area, which following the Second World War were in a state of decay that called for immediate restoration and premises that would ensure their correct conservation. The collection, numbering approximately fifty works comprising paintings, sculpture and applied arts, is arranged in chronological order in five rooms extending over the two floors of the museum. The main nuclei of the collection belonged to the fourteenth and fifteenth-century furnishings of the churches of the territory, while a significant number of seventeenth-century works entered the collection as a result of the bequest made by Cardinal Sanminiatelli to the canons of Montecastello in 1910. Originating from the Cahedral of Santa Maria e San Genesio is the group of 31 ceramic basins with decorative geometrical and zoomorphic motifs, of North African manufacture, which once decorated the façade and can ascribed to the last quarter of the twelfth century. One of the most important groups of works in the collection is that originating from the church of Santi Iacopo e Lucia, a series of panel paintings that were previously part of the ancient decor of the Dominican church. Among these we would mention the Saint Catherine of Alexandria, a fragment of a larger polyptych executed by Jacopo di Cione in the second half of the fourteenth century and the magnificent Saint Jerome in his Study, a work by Cenni di Francesco , dated 1411. Originating from the monastic complex of San Francesco are fragments of fresco portraying the Maestà, probably painted by Jacopo di Mino del Pellicaio, also known as the Maestro degli Ordini, an artist of Sienese culture who also painted the beautiful cross conserved in Conservatorio di Santa Chiara. The terracotta bust with traces of polychrome portraying the Redeemer comes from the church Santo Stefano where it stood above the portal up to the end of the Second World War: the intense expressive charge that characterizes this work would appear to argue in favor of the attribution to the workshop of Verrocchio. Continuing to linger on the fifteenth century, we would also mention two panel paintings by the Florentine Neri di Bicci. A Madonna Enthroned with Saints, originating from the church of San Giorgio in Canneto Valdelsa and a panel reproducing the ancient iconography of Our Lady offering the girdle to Saint Thomas between Saints John the Baptist and Bartholomew, previously in the parish church of San Giovanni a Corazzano, and both datable around te mid century. The works executed before the end of the sixteenth century include the famous coat of arms of the Accademia degli Euteleti and two Scenes of the Passion, formerly in the sacristy of church of the Santissimo Crocifisso: Christ Falling Beneath the Cross and the Christ is taken to the tomb, by the hand of the same artist whose accentuated dramatic touch demonstrates a northern training. Among the seventeeth-century paintings, worthy of note are the Dying Saint Francis Consoled by the Angel, moving in its acute realism – recently attribuited to Giovanni Bilivert, a pupil of Cigoli in Rome – the penetrating expression of the Ecce homo, a small painting of extraordinary intensity which recent studies have traced to the painter Domenico Passignano, and the two pendant pieces showing the Sacrifice of Isaac and Hagar in the Desert both by Lorenzo Lippi. Finally, the eighteenth-century works from the bequest of Cardinal Sanminiatelli include a study of the Education of the Virgin, painted by Giovan Battista Tiepolo for the Church of the Fava in Venice.