the brancacci chapel,florence,santa maria del carmine: frescoes of masaccio,masolino,filippino lippi

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  The Brancacci Chapel  


Address: Piazza del Carmine, Church of Santa Maria del Carmine

The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden - Masaccio - Fresco - Brancacci Chapel (Florence) Built prior to 1386 at the end of the right wing of the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, the Brancacci Chapel owes its well-deserved fame to its fresco cycle, painted in various stages by Masolino, Masaccio and Filippino Lippi.

Around 1425, Felice Brancacci, then Florence's ambassador to Egypt, commissioned Masolino to decorate the three walls of the Chapel. Masolino later called on the young Masaccio to assist him, who subsequently briefly carried on the work alone. For reasons which are still unclear (perhaps stemming from Masaccio's trip to Rome, where he died in 1428), the frescoes were not completed until sixty years later, when Filippino Lippi, working from 1481-1485, added the finishing strokes.

In 1771, the church was gutted by a devastating fire. Fortunately, it spared the Brancacci Chapel but left its wall decorations blackened by smoke. They are currently under restoration.

The divergent styles of the three artists are quite evident in two of the frescoed scenes, the Life of St. Peter, and the Original Sin. While Masolino's delicate figures are still linked to the gothic approach, Masaccio wholly portrays his grandiose vision with linear and airy perspectives, and classic, severe realism. These currents come together in his masterful Expulsion of Adam and Eve and the celebrated Payment of the Tribute Money, found on the left wall. Lastly, we see Filippino Lippi's contribution in figures that tried, and in good measure succeeded, in matching the imposing depth of Masaccio's scenes. The chapel has been recently reopened after undergoing complete restoration.


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