The Museum of Religious Art of the Oratory of the Crucifix at Figline e Incisa Valdarno
The Museum opened in 2002 in two rooms of the Oratory of the Crocifisso and the adjacent sacristy in Figline e Incisa Valdarno; it contains paintings and religious furnishings of considerable historic and artistic value that come from the Oratory itself as well as from the country churches in the town borough.The building boasts extremely simple architectural features: the façade is characterised by a 16th century doorway, with two small square windows on either side, where worshippers used to leave alms. The interior is on a single nave and the result of a late 17th century renovation.
Built alongside the hospital at Incisa for the poor and sick, an oratory was founded in 1364 thanks to a concession from St. Andrew Corsini, the Bishop of Fiesole, but we cannot be sure that this early construction can be identified with the Oratory of the Crocifisso of today, though it certainly already existed in the 16th century when it was founded by the Society of San Lorenzo al Castello, traces of whose names can be seen on the grill on the façade. The wooden Crucifix that gives the Oratory its name is preserved in the interior: it is of early 16th century Florentine make, though, according to tradition, this miraculous object was brought here in a procession from Florence by the Good Men of St. Martin, a congregation dedicated to helping the poor, towards the mid 15th century; Jacopo di Biagio dall’Ancisa once acted as its treasurer. Whatever its history, the presence of the Crucifix transformed the Oratory into a place of pilgrimage for all the surrounding area.
The oldest works in the museum collection include a painting on wood of the Madonna and Child by the Master of Barberino (mentioned in documents between 1358 and 1369 and active under Andrea Orcagna in the decoration of Santa Maria Novella in Florence), which comes from the Church of San Lorenzo at Cappiano.The Madonna and Child by Sebastiano Mainardi (1460 c.-1513) and another by Giuliano Bugiardini (1476-1555), both students of Ghirlandaio, date from the early years of the 16th century: the first, painted with Sts. Domenic, Lawrence, John the Baptist and Lucy, was carried out for the Church of San Lorenzo at Cappiano; the second painting shows Sts. Quiricus, Julietta and Bartholomew beside the Virgin and comes from the Church of San Quirico at Montelfi: the donor in the lower part of the painting possibly represents a member of the Castellani family, the owners of the Tower or castle of Castellano that dominates the valley.Caterina Caneva has recently attributed the wonderful 17th century canvas of St. Michael weighing souls from San Michele a Morniano, to Orazio Fidani (1606-1656), a student of the Medici painter and goldsmith Jean Bilivert, active in the Florentine countryside and at the Carthusian monastery of Galluzzo.The sacristy contains a display of various religious furnishings, 16th and 17th century vestments of Tuscan manufacture, a fine 17th century wardrobe, an 18th century organ and numerous reliquaries and votive offerings that bear witness to the popular devotion to the Crucifix.The Museum collection has recently been enriched by a priceless cope hood of Spanish manufacture decorated with the Stoning of St. Stephen that dates from between the 15th and 16th centuries.