WALKS IN FLORENCE: CHURCHES, STREETS AND PALACES
SUSAN AND JOANNA HORNER
Chapter V: Institutions of the Misericordia and the Bigallo
Among the buildings which surround the piazzas of San Giovanni and of the Duomo, there are two at the corners of the Via Calzaioli which belong to institutions closely connected with the history, the manners, and the character of the Florentine people; the Misericordia and the Bigallo.
The Misericordia, the oldest of the two, once possessed the beautiful little oratory now belonging to the Bigallo. The origin of the Misericordia is related by an old chronicler, Messer Francesco Ghislieri, a follows: - In the thirteenth century it was customary to hold two annual fairs, one at the feast of St. Simon, in October, and the other at that of St. Martin, in November. Woolen cloth, the staple commodity of the city, was the article chiefly sold on these occasions, and a great many porters were employed to carry the goods to the houses of the purchasers. The porters had their stand in the Piazza di san Giovanni, near the Cathedral; but as the pavement was often overflowed in autumn or winter by inundations from the Mugnone, they were allowed to take shelter in the cellar of a house belonging to the Adimari, one of the principal Florentine families, where they gathered round a brasier, and gambled away their scanty earnings. It happened that in the year 1240 one of their number, Pietro Borsi, was the son of pious parents, and, scandalized by the oaths and vices of his comrades, he exhorted them - and not without effect - to amend their lives: he further proposed that any one blaspheming the name of Christ or the Virgin, should pay a fine into a box suspended against the wall of the cellar. A considerable sum was soon raised, and the question next arose how to dispose of the money.
Florence was at that time distracted by war and
pestilence; for though the Signory had just concluded a peace
with their neighbours, the Siennese, the feuds betwixt Guelphs
and Ghibellines continually occasioned fresh disturbances
within the city. Although prone to swearing and
gambling, the Florentine is by nature devout; and as, in times
of public calamity, men are everywhere peculiarly susceptible
to religious impressions, Pietro Borsi suggested that his
comrades should form themselves into a society, and devote the
proceeds of their fines to the purchase of six litters for the
conveyance of sick or wounded persons to the hospitals or to
their homes, and to carry the dead to burial. One litter
was assigned to each district or Sestiere of Florence, and the
porters who undertook this office at first accepted a small
remuneration, but afterwards refused all payment. After
Pietro Borsi had departed this life, a second leader was
chosen, who caused the box to be hung in a conspicuous place
outside, with an inscription fastened to it, asking alms for
the sick from those who passed that way. The money thus
obtained enabled the Society to purchase rooms above their
cellar, which they converted into a chapel or oratory.
The feuds within the city had meantime been fomented by the intrigues of the Emperor Frederick II., and had increased in violence. Every family of wealth or distinction was ranged on one side or the other, and converted the high towers attached to their dwellings into fortresses. The Ghibellines, who proved successful, destroyed the palaces and churches belonging to the rival faction; even the Baptistery, because chosen by the Guelphs for their place of meeting, had become obnoxious to them, and they consulted how to destroy it. Opposite, at the corner of the Via Calzaioli, adjoining the houses of the Adimari, stood one of the highest towers of Florence, known as the Guarda-Morto, because near the entrance of the cemetery, and where the dead were exposed previous to internment. The Ghibellines determined on its demolition, in the hope that the Baptistery should be crushed in its fall as if by accident, and the confided the work to Nicola Pisano, who was, however, equally resolved to save this ancient temple from destruction. He accordingly contrived to shake the strong walls of the Guarda-Morto by piercing them at intervals throughout the entire height, and setting fire to combustible materials placed within for the purpose; he thus caused the tower to fall perpendicularly, without causing any injury to the circumjacent buildings. After the demolition of the Guarda-Morto, the Brothers of mercy - as the society of poor porters called themselves - obtained possession of the site, which they surrounded with an iron grating and used for their burying-ground. The space was sufficiently large for the purpose, since it was then customary, and is still usual in Tuscan villages, to construct a pit for the reception of the dead, closed by a slab, which is raised for every burial.
From an early period in the history of the Misericordia a certain number of the younger brethren or novices were appointed, week about, to perform the offices of mercy. They wore a red dress and hood to match the litter of the same colour, but they afterwards adopted a black dress and black litter with the blue coverlid for the sufferer. In the course of years the brethren increased in numbers, so that they were obliged to change their residence, but they never relaxed the rules they had laid down for themselves, viz., to carry the sick, and to repeat a certain number of litanies in their Oratory, as well as to offer up a daily mass for the souls of their deceased breathren, and of those who might have died on their way to the hospital, and for whom they provided a burial in one of the three vaults under the Cathedral, granted to the Misericordia by the Board of Works of St. Maria del Fiore, and which may still be recognised by the arms of the Society.
About four years after the foundation of the Misericordia, a new cause of discord arose in the city. Early in the thirteenth century a sect of heretics began to speak their dogmas in Florence. Their theological opinions did not differ widely from those professed by our own Wickliffe, by the Bohemian John Huss, and by all the early Protestant Reformers, and were derived from the Paulician Christianity of the East, a branch of the Manichean, who placed the highest value on the writings of St. Paul. They were first known in Europe as Albigenses, from Albi, a small town in the south of France; in Italy they were called Paterini - Sufferers. Among these Paterini in Florence were several who belonged to the leading families; but when summoned by the bishop to answer for their opinions before the Ecclesiastical Tribunal, they refused to obey, and fled to the fortresses of the Nerli and Baroni, two powerful families, who offered them protection beyond the walls of Florence.
The order of St. Dominick had been recently founded for the extirpation of heresy, and had been just then introduced into Florence; three of the brethren, Fra Giovanni of Salerno, Fra Aldobrandini Cavalcanti, and Fra Ruggiero Calcagni, had signalised themselves in the work; but, unable to cope with a heresy protected by the most influential families in the city, they summoned to their aid Fra Piero of Verona, or Peter Martyr, who was remarkable for his great eloquence; he used the weapon to good purposes, to alarm the superstitious fears of the populace, who hastened in crowds to listen to his preaching. Sometimes he addressed them from a pulpit at the corner of the Palace of the Vecchietti, in the Via Ferravecchi, leading to the old market, and there, on one occasion, he declared that he saw the Devil in the shape of a black horse galloping past, and he exorcised him by the sign of the cross. At other times he preached from a pulpit attached to the walls of the Oratory, now called the Bigallo, but then belonging to the Misericordia. The hooks or cramps by which Peter Martyr's pulpit was fastened, were till very recently to be seen there.
The Dominican, in imitation of our Saviour, chose twelve of his disciples, whom he appointed captains of the people, and to whom he delivered twelve banners bearing the Blood Red Cross on a white field.51 He bade them go forth on a new crusade against the heretics within the walls of the city. Two bloody battles were fought in the streets of Florence, the attack being led on by the Dominican friar in person and his twelve captains. The Paterini were all massacred, except a small remnant who fled to the Gaggio, now a monastery, situated beyond the Porta Romana of Florence. The work of holy murder accomplished, the captains turned to works of mercy. Several hospitals for the reception of pilgrims already existed, and these were recommended to their protection. Among them was one called the Bigallo, an old hospital, now a private dwelling, which exists about four miles from Florence, on the highway to Arezzo, and which bore the sign of the White Cock, Bianco Gallo. The company accordingly adopted the name of Bigallo, and built other hospitals, whilst the large contributions they received enabled them to extend their charities still further. They held their first meetings in Sta. Maria Novella, and afterwards in other churches, until, in 1352, the municipality bestowed on them a fixed residence.
During this interval the Brothers of Mercy had built for themselves a Loggia, or covered porch, enclosed by an iron grating, within which to place children who had been lost or abandoned, that they might be seen and recognised, or that they might excite the compassion of the citizens. The wealth of the Misericordia had been increased by legacies during the plague of 1348, and the brethren resolved to enlarge their chapel, and increase the size of their establishment by fitting up other rooms in an adjoining house. The space was, however, still insufficient for their purpose, and they made a fresh appeal to Florentine liberality. The inhabitants of the district of St. Reparata therefore granted them a few more feet of ground in advance of the covered Loggia, and they commenced the building which now forms the Loggia to the Oratory of the Bigallo. Vasari attributes the design to Nicolo Pisano, but as its date is a century later, it was probably the work of Andrea Orcagna. The Loggia was finished in 1358, when the delicate iron grating, the work of Francesco Petrucci, a celebrated Siennese artist, was placed here. According to the books of the company, the statue of the Virgin within the chapel was executed by Alberto Arnoldi, a pupil of Andrea Pisano; he was also the author of the group of the Madonna and Child outside, now preserved under glass, above what was at one time the entrance to the chapel.
Though this exquisite little building was erected by and for the Brothers of Mercy, the Signory passed a decree in 1425, obliging the Misericordia to unite with the Bigallo, and to divide their residence and possessions with the company: the arms of both societies - the Cock of the Bigallo and the Cross of the Misericordia, were therefore quartered on one seal. A fire having destroyed the upper part of the building, the captains of the Bigallo hoped to establish their claim to the whole, by ordering two frescos to be painted, which, though much injured, may still be traced on the outer walls; in one of these Peter Martyr is represented preaching at the corner of the Via Ferrivecchi, where he exorcised the black horse; and in the other he is seen distributing banners to his followers. The building is here represented as it then appeared, the Loggia occupying the space within the first arch, the Oratory or chapel within the second, and the entrance to the residence of the captains of the Bigallo within the third. The first fresco is attributed to Taddeo Gaddi, the second to Pietro Chellini, but neither of them with any foundation. They were really painted by two artists of small repute, Ventura di Moro and Rossello di Jacopo di Scolari Franchi. These frescos were executed in 1445, and were partially restored in 1864.52 Above the arch, to the left of these frescos, are two angels full of grace and beauty, evidently the work of a superior master, perhaps Orcagna, if, as appears probable, he was the architect of the Loggia. They are on either side of the statuette of the Madonna and Child, which stands in a shrine under a rich canopy. Beyond these, are statuettes of a male and female saint bearing palm branches, probably intended for St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Mary Magdalene; the male saint carries a book, the female saint a vase. The wide overhanging roof of the Loggia is supported by handsome corbels or brackets, once painted, but time and weather have destroyed all trace of colour. The arches of the Loggia lean on spiral columns, which have a greater appearance of strength than is usual with this form of column, owing to the rich foliage twined around them.
At the apex of each arch, ornamented shields contain half-length figures of our Saviour, and of the Evangelists. The fathers of the Church and angels are on either side, whilst in the angels above are allegorical figures, two of which represent Justice and Fortitude. Over each arch are double windows in the old Florentine style, the upper portion of which takes the form of a pointed trefoil. Within the arches are small medallions of dark marble, inlaid with the Cross of the Misericordia in red; the letters F. M., Frate Misericordia, and abbreviated signs above, are inserted in metal. As this is the old seal of the Fraternity, it establishes their prior claim to the Loggia. The cellar, entered by a low door immediately to the right of the present entrance to the offices of the Bigallo, is believed to be the same in which Pietro Borsi and his companions met, and it is said that the image of the Virgin, before which they worshipped, is still preserved on one of the arches within.
The union of the Misericordia and the Bigallo was not of long continuance. The captains of the Bigallo refused to assist in carrying the sick, and confined their charities to offering a shelter for the homeless. The Brothers of Mercy, finding that their funds were entirely at the disposal of men who refused to share in their labours, gradually lost their zeal, till at last no one could be found to perform the work. In 1475 the body of a man was discovered lying in the Via de' Macci, near Sant Ambrogio, with none to bury it; at last one bolder than the rest took it up on his shoulders, and, carrying it to the Palazzo della Signoria, laid it at the feet of the Gonfalonier. This incident led to the restoration of the Misericordia, under the title of Misericordia Nuova, to which society was granted the same right over the Oratory formerly enjoyed by the Misericordia Vecchia. New statutes were compiled and approved by the Archbishop of Florence, and the city found the Misericordia so useful that the republican, and subsequently the grand-ducal government, confirmed their privileges. They continued to use their ancient Oratory, with its beautiful Loggia, until 1524 when they resigned it wholly to the company of the Bigallo, and obtained instead the Church of San Cristofano, no longer now existing, but which stood in the Corso degli Adimari; in 1576, by a decree of the Grand-Duke Francis I., the fraternity removed to their present residence in the Piazza del Duomo, on the opposite corner of the Via Calzaioli from the residence of the Bigallo, where, in 1781, they built their church.
Meantime the Society of the Bigallo had likewise experienced reverses. In 1541 the Grand-Duke Cosimo I. had dismissed the twelve captains, and placed the Institution under a board of directors, composed of one ecclesiastic and twelve lay citizens, with full power over the children committed to their charge. The Hospital for the reception of children was established at San Bonifazio, but was afterwards transferred to the Convent of Sta. Caterina, in the Via delle Ruote. The boys were put out to trades, the girls maintained until they married: but so many children were thrust upon public charity by the cruelty or neglect of their parents, and their numbers increased so rapidly, that the directors were at last obliged to send them out as agricultural labourers.
In 1777 the board was abolished, and the administration was confided to a commissary; the Hospital was at the same time removed to a house adjoining the Oratory of the Bigallo. The number of abandoned children is now small, and of these, the majority who receive the benefits of the Institution are orphans whose parentage is known. After them come the children of widows, they are limited in number, and must be recommended by the municipality; lastly, the children of widows who have married a second time, and who have neither uncles, aunts, nor other relations to support them. A certain number of the children receive their education within the walls of the Bigallo, but as there are nearly a thousand in the Institution, most of them are boarded out in private families until they reach the age of eighteen; and those to whom they are confided are paid a monthly salary for their food, but the Bigallo clothes them and superintends their treatment. When the girls marry they are given a dowry, whilst the boys are educated to some trade, and from the age of eighteen to twenty they continue to receive clothing and assistance from the Institution, although placed under the tutelage of the civil Prętor, a magistrate of the city. Certain poor nobles and citizens have a right to receive dowries for their daughters from the funds of the Bigallo.
Within the building are several interesting works of art. The office-room of the Cashier, to the left of the entrance, contains a large fresco which was transferred hither from the external walls in 1777. The subject is lost children restored to their weeping and joyful mothers, among whom the Brothers of mercy can be distinguished by their costume. This fresco was painted in 1380, and the artists' names are recorded in the books of the captains of the Bigallo, as Piero Gerini and Ambrogio di Baldese, by whom it was executed when the building still belonged to the Misericordia.53 There are other frescos in this room, which represent the various works of mercy. To the right of the door is a painting with the date 1342, in which the mother of the Saviour is seen as the Patroness of Florence, St. Mary of Mercy; a variety of persons kneel before her, and Florence, surrounded by her third circuit of walls, is at her feet. The Virgin has a mitre on her head, a cope or sacerdotal cloak is on her shoulders, and her stola or robe reaches to the ground, and is adorned with eleven ovates, five on either side and one at the throat, each containing mottos alluding to the good works which belong to the Brothers of mercy; in one they carry a bier, and are represented in their red hoods, a proof that the picture was executed at a very early period. Richa ascribes it to Giottino. To the left of this painting the Ten Commandments and the seven sacraments of the Church are inscribed in Gothic characters.
In an upper room, appropriated to the use of the commissary of the Bigallo, there is a singular little picture by a pupil of Giotto, and another, with a quaint representation of the Saviour leaning against the cross with his feet in the sepulchre. At the back of this picture is a Madonna and Child, with St. Peter Martyr kneeling on her right, and holding a lily; St. Francis, with a book, on her left. Below is seen the banner of the Bigallo carried by a monk, who stands beside a second representation of peter Martyr, who is bestowing another banner on a captain of the Bigallo; the other captains with their banners in their hands are standing round. Near this early specimen of art is a triptych, or picture in three panels, also of the school of Giotto, which has higher claims of merit: it was given to the Society by one of the captains. St. Christopher, St. Nicholas of Bari, St. Catharine, and St. Margaret are painted outside, and the Saviour is represented in the lunette above. Though born at Myra, the remains of St. Nicholas were conveyed to Bari, as those of St. Mark to Venice. The picture relates to one of the miracles performed by St. Nicholas after his death. The centre compartment represents the Madonna and Child enthroned; the twelve Apostles, with St. John the Baptist and St. Nicholas, are round this group; they are painted with truth of expression and delicacy of finish. The donator and his wife kneel at the feet of the Virgin.54 Within the left panel is an Adoration of the Shepherds, and above it, is represented part of the story of the miracle attributed to St. Nicholas. A Turk is seated at dinner, with a child who is acting as his cup-bearer, but whom St. Nicholas in a vision is preparing to carry away. Within the right panel is the Crucifixion, and above the cross the pelican. The expression of the Virgin and saints below the cross is earnest and touching. In the upper compartment a married couple are at dinner, and the saint is restoring to them their lost child. The picture is on a gold ground, and the miniatures are carefully executed; although much repainted, it has great merit both in feeling and graceful composition.
The image of the Virgin, by Arnoldo Arnoldi, within the Oratory, was executed between 1359 and 1364. The vaulting of the chapel was painted in fresco by Nardo and Bartolommeo; the first is supposed to have been a pupil of the architect, Andrea Orcagna; the second was a Siennese painter. Giunti and Rosselli, two other artists, continued the work in 1425, and the walls were painted by Giovanni di Donnino in 1426. The Oratory was whitewashed in 1760, and their labour concealed until the restoration of both the Oratory and Loggia in 1862. The predella or gradino below the statue of the Virgin is one of the finest works of Ridolfo Ghirlandaio, and succeeded an earlier predella of Ambrogio Lorenzetti or Baldesi. The first of the five panels represents the martyrdom of Piero of Verona - Peter Martyr. The saint is writing Credo on the ground with his finger dipped in his own blood. The three crowns of glory are suspended over his head: the red crown of martyrdom, the silver crown, and the golden crown which is nearest heaven. The landscape background is exquisitely painted, and the floating drapery of the friar who is making his escape gives admirably the idea of speed; the arm of the assassin raised to strike is full of vigour; in his left he bears a shield on which is the device of the scorpion, the emblem of the Gentiles. The central panel represents the Virgin of Mercy with outspread mantle, supported by two exceedingly beautiful angels. On her right is an Adoration, in which the Madonna is very graceful, and the playful attitude of the Child lying on the ground extremely beautiful. To the left of the Virgin of mercy is the Flight into Egypt, an equally lovely composition. On the last panel are the Brothers of Mercy, burying a dead body in one of the square vaults in front of the Baptistery. Nothing that Ridolfo Ghirlandaio ever painted can excel this predella, which is rich and harmonious in colour, and has all the charm of life movement, and beauty of composition. Vasari justly calls them "superb miniatures." They were placed here in 1512, at the same time with group above the altar, which is by Antonio Caroto, a celebrated artist of that period.55
On the opposite side of the Via Calzaioli, in the Piazza del Duomo, over the door of the Misericordia, is an inscription in gold letters, recording the name of the Society, and the date when the brethren took possession of this building. Before it had attained its present proportions, the faēade, or front, was several feet farther back; and in 1561 it was decorated with paintings by Bernardo Pocetti, representing the Seven Works of mercy. These were destroyed in 1780, when the building underwent alterations; but small copies were made of them by Antonio Fedi, which are preserved in a room of the Bigallo. There is nothing of importance in the chapel attached to the official rooms of the Misericordia. The ceiling is modern; but the terra-cotta Madonna and Child above the altar is a good specimen of Luca della Robbia; the bust of St. Sebastian, and a head intended to represent mercy, are by the modern sculptor Santarelli. The history of Tobias, typical of the Christian Pilgrim, is represented in a series of feeble pictures round the chapel; but, on either side of the door, Tobias and St. Sebastian, by Santi di Tito, are more worthy of notice. The adjoining room, where the brethren meet, preparatory to starting on their mission, always has the litter ready for use; and around are wardrobes, containing the peculiar costume of the misericordia. A large picture by Ludovico Cigoli represents the plague of 1348, described by Boccaccio, in which the Brothers of Mercy were pre-eminently useful. The marble image of the Madonna and Child over the altar is by Benedetto da Majano; the boy-angels beneath, in fresco, are sweet in colour, form, and action, and are by Santi di Tito. Over the door leading to a smaller room is another statue by Benedetto da Majano. A third room to the back contains the only real art treasure belonging to this Institution; it is a picture of the Madonna and Child by Franciabigio, which so closely resembles the manner of his master, Andrea del Sarto, as to have been often mistaken for a genuine work of the Great Florentine colourist. It was presented to the Misericordia by the Grand-Duke Leopold I., and was formerly in his villa of Petraia, in the vicinity of Florence. The pictures on either side are portraits of Clement XII. and of one of the Corsini family. In a room beyond is an ideal portrait of Pietro Borsi, the founder of the Institution. The rest of the pictures are portraits of various Grand-Dukes, or representations by Santi di Tito of good deeds performed by the Brothers of Mercy, the chief interest of which consists in the peculiarity of the costumes worn on different occasions. The old ballot-box stands here; it is a singular machine, and still used when, on the death of one of the brethren, a vote by ballot decides who is to pay for wax candles for the obsequies. The name of each brother is written on a small slip of parchment, and inserted into a hollow piece of wood called the ghianda, because in the shape of an acorn. These are dropped into this gourd-like receptacle, which is turned round by a handle until the ghiande are well mixed, when the lot is drawn.
The Misericordia continues faithful to its work of six centuries. At a sound from the Campanile of the Cathedral, the Giornante, or day worker, hastens to the residence in the Piazza to learn his duties from the captains, or Capo di Guardia: a half-hour glass is turned to mark the interval between the summons and his arrival. Every Giornante is provided with his long black dress, and the hood which covers his face, only leaving holes for the eyes, so that he may not be recognised when upon his labour of mercy. The captain repeats the words, "Fratelli, prepariamoci a fare quest' opera di misericordia" - "Brothers, let us prepare to perform this work of mercy;" and, kneeling down, he adds, "Mitte nobis Domine charitates humilitates et fortitudinis;" to which the rest reply, "Ut in hoc opera te sequemur." After a prayer the captain exhorts the brethren to repeat a Pater Noster and Ave Maria for the benefit of the sick and afflicted; then four of the number take the litter on their shoulders, and, preceded by their captain, the rest follow, bearing the burden in turns, and repeating every time when another set take it up, "Iddio le ne rende il merito," to which those who are relieved answer, "Vadano in pace" - "Go in peace." When sent for by a sick person, the Brothers assist in dressing the patient, and carry him down to the litter, where he is gently and carefully laid. The brethren sometimes act as sick nurses, to which office they are trained; but they may never receive any remuneration, nor taste anything except a cup of cold water. As the Brothers of the Misericordia passed along the streets of Florence, all persons formerly raised their hats reverentially; but this custom has not been generally observed during the last few years.
The Society is composed of seventy-two
captains or Capi di Guardia. Every day fifty Giornanti,
or members of the Society who are pledged to be in attendance
each on a given day of the week, are in readiness to carry the
sick to the hospital and perform the other duties of the
Misericordia. They are all equally bound to lend their
services night or day, but a certain number of the
brotherhood, called Nottanti, are especially devoted to nurse
the sick at night in their houses; others, called Mutanti, are
instructed in a method peculiar to the institution, by which
to carry the sick from one bed to another, without causing the
slightest movement or disturbance, or even uncovering the
patient; likewise to change the clothes and linen.
Besides these, there are the Stracciafoglie, or Novices, and
the Buona Voglie, or Volunteers, who have already served as
Giornanti, but who prefer having the time for their services
left to their own choice. The members of the Society
enjoy certain privileges, such as the remainder of the wax
candles burnt during their religious ceremonies; a small sum
is also assigned in dowries for their daughters; and when
those who are restricted in their means fall sick, a physician
and medicine are supplied free from charge. Men of every
class in Florence belong to the Misericordia, all willing to
assist their fellow-creatures in distress. Among these
are rich and poor, the noble, and the philosopher whose
valuable time is willingly given for the sick and
suffering. The venerable Marchese Gino Capponi, the
Conte della Gherardesca, the antiquary Conte Luigi Passerini,
the wealthy banker Fenzi, the patriot and philanthropist
professor Ferdinando Zanetti, all give or have given their
active co-operation to the Institution. But no name
among the Brethren is remembered with greater love and
reverence than that of the late Marchese Carlo Torrigiani,
whose wise and benevolent efforts in the cause of all that
could serve his fellow-citizens, procured for him at his death
the title of the "Federigo Borromeo of Florence."56
Albigenses, their tenets condemned 1176
Benedetto da Majano 1442-1498
Bigallo, Society of, founded 1352
Bigallo, Loggia, belonging first to the Misericordia, built 1358
Bigallo, Frescos of, painted 1445
Bigallo, Frescos of, restored 1864
Bigallo, Captains of, dismissed 1541
Bigallo, the Board of Directors abolished 1777
Dominick, St. 1160-1221
Frederick II, Emperor, reigned 1199-1250
Ghirlandaio, Ridolfo 1483-1561
Misericordia Vecchia founded 1240
Misericordia, Union of, with Bigallo 1425
Misericordia Nuova founded 1475
Misericordia, the church built 1781
Robbia, Luca della 1400-1482
51 One of these
banners is still preserved in the Sacristy of Sta. Maria
52 See "Curiositą Storico Artistiche Fiorentine," by Luigi Passerini.
53 This fresco, besides those which still remain outside the building, is generally attributed to Pietro Chellini; this belief arose from a passage in the "Archives of the Commissary," lib. X. p. 8. But Count Luigi Passerini considers this an error, and that the only paintings which can in reality be attributed to Chellini are the decorations round the elegant windows above the Loggia and Oratory. (See "Curisoitą Storico Artistiche Fiorentine.")
54 See Mrs. Jameson, "Sacred and Legendary Art."
55 During a period of bad taste, the arches of the Loggia were filled in with brick and mortar; and it was due to the praiseworthy exertions of the late Marchese Paolo Feroni, Director of the Uffizi Gallery, and president of the Fine Arts in Florence, that this building was restored to its original condition, and that many other improvements, or rather restorations, were effected.
56 The Marchese Carlo Torrigiani died on the 11th of April, 1865, at the age of fifty-four, after a short illness, contracted while fulfilling his duty as a Giornante of the Misericordia.
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