the cloisters of santa maria novella in florence, italy

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  The Cloisters of Santa Maria Novella  

Address: Piazza Santa Maria Novella

The monumental complex of the cloister of Santa Maria Novella adjoins the church and is full of important paintings. Begun in 1340 and completed internally in 1360, the cloisters were designed by Fra' Sisto and Fra' Ristoro. They are among the most beautiful examples of Italian Gothic architecture. Within the doorway to the right of the church facade is the Chiostro Verde with its strong but harmonious proportions. It derived its name from the frescoes painted in "terra verde". Among the artists involved in the decorations during the first half of the fifteenth century the most famous name is that of Paolo Uccello (1397-1494). One of the greatest Florentine Renaissance masters, Uccello painted some of his best works here, including the Flood and the Sacrifice of Noah. The first is notable for its atmosphere of cosmic disaster, the second for the vertiginous perspective effects in which Uccello was so adept.

The Cloister gives access to the Refectory, to the Large Cloister with its late sixteenth century decorations, and on the north side, the "Cappellone degli Spagnoli". During the sixteenth century this was the chapter house, and took its present name from the Spanish followers of Cosimo 1 st's wife Eleonora of Toledo who met there.

This large interior still houses Andrea di Bonaiuto's complex and grandiose frescoes of the mid-fourteenth century which exalt the work of the Dominicans (to whom the church belonged) through the major Christian themes. In the fresco of the Church Militant one can see Arnolfo's original project for the Florence Duomo included as the cathedral in the background.

Connected with the Chiostro Verde is the Chiostrino dei Morti and the Strozzi Chapel, also decorated with fourteenth century frescoes.

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