The Masaccio Museum of Religious Art at Cascia di Reggello

The Romanesque Parish Church of San Pietro a Cascia in Reggello was built near the Cassia vetus road, probably towards the late 12th century. The exterior boasts a fine portico, while the interior is divided into three naves separated by arches resting on columns with capitals carved with vegetal elements, human figures and animals; the central nave concludes in the apse. The simplicity of the walls in untreated stone is the result of the restoration carried out in the 1960’s, which made it possible to remove the 16th–18th century additions, like the lateral altars created in the second half of the 16th century. The church contains several art works, among them the detached fresco of the Annunciation attributed to Mariotto di Cristofano, a painter active in the early 15th century, and the recently restored 17th century canvas of the Madonna and Child with Sts John the Evangelist and Maurice (?).{slider=The Museum}The Museum opened in 2002 in some rooms adjacent to the area of the church apse. Apart from the famous Triptych of San Juvenal painted by Masaccio, the collection includes paintings and liturgical furnishings from Cascia itself and other churches in the district of Reggello. The section of altar-hangings for the Holy Mass is particularly rich and includes exhibits that date from the 15th to the 18th centuries. 18th-20th century Russian icons and various objects used for Jewish ceremonies, collected by the present parish priest Don Ottavio Failli, complete the display. Portraits of the successive parish priests who operated here between the 18th and 19th centuries have been hung around the room destined to house the historic archives of the Parish Church.{/slide}
Many of the works on display in the first room of the Museum were created for the Parish Church of Cascia and were transferred to Florence in the 1960’s. These artworks have now returned to their original home and include a Madonna and Child, Sts. Romulus, Peter, Paul, Sebastian and the patron Roberto Folchi the Bishop of Fiesole, carried out between the 15th and 16th centuries in the workshop of Ghirlandaio; a Madonna and Child and Sts. Michael Archangel and Sebastian, dated 1575 and signed by Agnolo Guidotti, a painter who also created other important works; an Annunciation, whose restoration revealed the signature of "Bronzino", though this refers to Alessandro Allori (1535-1607); and an Ecstasy of St. Anthony of Padua, dated 1655 and signed by Jacopo Vignali (1592-1664). The Lamentation over the Dead Christ by Santi di Tito (1536-1603) of 1601 is mentioned as only having been in the Church of San Pietro since the 18th century, though its former site is still unknown.
An entire room of the museum is devoted to the Triptych of St. Juvenal, together with other documentary and educational evidence. The work portrays the Madonna and Child with two angels in the centre, with Sts. Bartholomew and Blaise on the left and the Sts. Juvenal and Anthony Abbot on the right, and is the very first painting that can definitely be attributed to the great Masaccio (1401-1428), as it is dated April 23rd 1422, according to the inscription at the foot of the central panel: “ANNO DOMINI MCCCCXXII A DI VENTITRE D’AP[rile]”. His registration with the Guild of Physicians and Apothecaries (which all painters were required to join), only four months earlier, suggests that Masaccio carried out this commission in Florence, although the work was destined for the tiny Church of San Giovenale, not far from Cascia. The painting already shows a complete breakaway from the stylistic elements of the International Gothic style and an early interest in the nascent experiments of the Renaissance.
The so-called “Room of the parish priest” is instead a small room, whose walls are decorated with frescoes in fake architecture with ample imaginary and real views, including that of the Parish Church itself of Cascia, which have been brought back to light thanks to its recent restoration. The decoration was probably carried out by Giuseppe del Moro (1718-1781), a trompe-l’œil artist whose workshop was active in Florence and Vallombrosa in the second half of the 18th century.