The Pazzi Chapel is a landmark of Renaissance architecture in Florence, Italy. Located in the Santa Croce church complex, the structure was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi – the master architect who is most famous for engineering Florence’s beloved cathedral dome. The loggia in front of the Pazzi Chapel is a prime example of 15th-century architectural decoration in grey pietra serena sandstone, colourful maiolica and terracotta.
550 years have taken their toll on this structure and its decoration. The loggia of the Pazzi Chapel requires urgent restoration to stop further deterioration. Opera di Santa Croce, the non-profit institution in charge of the church’s administration, has raised 50% of the funds needed to carry out this restoration, slated to begin in early 2015. Your support of the loggia’s restoration will help to raise the remaining amount. In so doing, you will become part of the 720-year-long history of Santa Croce.
Imagine yourself standing under the loggia of the Pazzi Chapel, a prime example of 15th-century architecture. Look up at the ornate sculpted rosettes, the terracotta cherubim roundels and the colourful tin-glaze terracotta by Luca della Robbia. All around you, the loggia is built in pietra serena, a grey sandstone that, by its very nature, tends to crumble over time. If you take a closer look at the façade, the columns and the sculpted decorations, you will see extensive damage. This structure desperately needs restoration.
Every effort has been made to preserve the loggia in the past. Recently, there have been two interventions to ensure safety in the area. Restorers have removed decorative elements that were in danger of falling off, carefully numbering and diagramming them and putting them into storage. Before this, the entire chapel and the loggia were subject to a major restoration at the end of the 19th century as well as to general maintenance over time.
Now, the time has come to do a complete restoration that will involve careful cleaning (restorers use cotton swabs and purified water for this, one centimeter at a time), re-integration of the removed parts, and final protection. This intervention will be complete but also conservative – the building will not look new, nor out of place. But the loggia will be preserved for future generations in a condition that will permit us not only to admire its beauty, but to continue to study and understand the architecture and society of the Renaissance.
This video gives a closer look at the damage that will be fixed during restoration.
Now that funding has exceeded $ 95,000, it will enable us to complete additional activities within the scope of the restoration of the Chapel.
-At $105,000 We will be able to fund the restoration of the large wooden door to the chapel attributed to Giuliano da Maiano. The finely carved Quattrocento door reflects the architectural decoration of the rest of the loggia.
-Beyond this sum, any amount will defer part of the costs set aside originally by Opera di Santa Croce (50% of the whole), so that all the funds collected on Kickstarter for this campaign will go towards the restoration of the loggia; any amount saved will go towards further work to be done at Santa Croce as listed on this page, such as restoration of the altarpieces by Giorgio Vasari and his workshop in the nave, restoration of stained glass windows in the transept, and the full restoration of the interior of the Pazzi Chapel.
Depending on the pledge level you choose, you will receive one or more of the following rewards described in depth here.
As a backer of this Kickstarter, you will become a part of the history of Santa Croce. Your name will be inscribed by hand into a handmade leather book, made at the Scuola del Cuoio (Leather School) on Santa Croce’s premises, and preserved in the historical archive of Santa Croce, where everything about the building, its art and its restoration have been kept since the early 16th century. Names will be listed by pledge level. This book will be scanned and visible online. An online textual list of donors will also be made available on the website santacroceopera.it.
Receive entry for 2 adults and 2 children under the age of 18 to the Church of Santa Croce valid Feb 2015 to Dec 2016.
Stay in touch with Florence with The Florentine, the city’s English language monthly newspaper. You’ll receive a 1 year subscription to the enhanced PDF issue of the newspaper, emailed to you at the start of each month.
History meets modern media: your 140-character thought will be inscribed into the book of campaign backers (described above). This is where you can commemorate a friend or relative, express love of a person or place, write a haiku or anything else you wish to be stored for posterity in the historical archive of Santa Croce.
Please note: NO Twitter account (nor knowledge of this network!) is required to make a "Historical Tweet"! At the end of the campaign, we'll send you a questionnaire to fill out and ask you to write your 140 word thought there. Please see the FAQ below for more information.
We have commissioned an artisan from the Santa Croce area, Andrea Ricceri, to create a special etching of the Pazzi Chapel on occasion of the restoration. Printed on cotton paper and set in an attractive mat, this frame-ready work of art measures 25,5 x 16,5 cm (with mat) and is signed and numbered in series of 150. It comes in a monogrammed folder with a certificate of thanks and the artist’s biography.
*Please note - we incorrectly translated acquaforte, the work that the artist is creating, as "lithograph", but it is an etching! Read this update for more about the artist and his technique.
Receive a collectors’ edition commemorative medal in solid bronze measuring 6.5 cm in diameter. The medal commemorates the 450th anniversary of the death of Michelangelo in 2014 with a reproduction of his tomb in Santa Croce on one side, and a rendering of his youthful Battle of the Centaurs on the other. (For more info about and photos of this medal click here.)
An exclusive and up-close visit for 4 people to the Pazzi Chapel during the restoration of the loggia while it is under scaffolding (February to June 2015). This is a 2-hour tour with a private guide who will orient you to the church and to the Pazzi Chapel. You will then be accompanied by restorers who will show you the progress being made thanks to your contribution. As an alternative, if you can’t come to Florence before June 2015, you may take a 2-hour private tour (including entry ticket) in the language of your choice.
Important! Please note: Date and time to be booked individually, restoration visit only available Feb-June 2015. You will be entering a work zone and must be physically able to climb a relatively narrow staircase or ladder. For safety reasons, children under the age of 10 are not admitted on the scaffolding. There are no restrictions for the private tours, which are also wheelchair accessible.
Invitation for 4 adults to attend the inaugural ceremony of the newly restored loggia, to be held in Florence on September 18, 2015 at 6pm. VIP Cocktail to follow at 7pm with Opera di Santa Croce board members and campaign organizers.
Digital rewards will ship at the end of January 2015. Physical rewards will ship by end April 2015. If your level involves both a digital item (like a family ticket or a tour) and an object that requires shipping, we will send the digital part by the end of January so you can use it right away. Free shipping for pledges above $200.
If you'd like to know more about corporate donations, please contact us via the "Contact Me" button on the right sidebar.
$ 5000: CORPORATE RESTORATION PATRON
Your company logo or family/institution name will be visible on the restoration panels present on the scaffolding during the 6-month restoration of the loggia of the Pazzi Chapel (see mockup).
This level includes access for 10 adults to the VIP inaugural event, and a restoration or private tour for your group.
$10,000: CORPORATE WELCOME PATRON
In addition to the visibility listed in the reward level “corporate restoration patron” and access for 10 adults to the VIP inaugural event, your company, family or institution name will be listed on a panel in the ticketing area of Santa Croce for 24 months.
Furthermore, your employees will always be “welcome” at Santa Croce – free access for 24 months upon display of employee card.
Please note that Opera di Santa Croce is a registered ONLUS in Italy but is not a registered charity in the USA, so is unable to issue a tax receipt for USA deduction purposes. However, we are happy to issue an official Italian receipt for your gift.
Santa Croce is the largest Franciscan church in the world. The current structure began in 1294 to replace an earlier small oratory whose dimensions no longer satisfied the needs of the community. As the large church grew up, prosperous families took responsibility for the decoration of its many chapels, resulting in spectacular 14th-century frescoes by Giotto and his followers.
Starting in the 15th century, the church became a burial place for illustrious individuals. Santa Croce is the final resting place of artist Michelangelo, thinker Machiavelli, scientist Galileo Galilei and composer Gioachino Rossini, amongst others. A monument to Florentine poet Dante Alighieri takes pride of place in the church, although his remains never made their way back to Florence. Italian poet Ugo Foscolo wrote his I Sepolcri about Santa Croce’s tombs in 1807, calling them: “urns that kindle strong souls to great deeds.” He also nicknamed the church the “Temple of Italian Glories,” giving it a national rather than local identity. In 1835, the American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson further expanded the basilica’s reach: “I feel as if it were not a Florentine nor a European church but a church built by and for the human race.” Today, the church of Santa Croce continues to be open to all, while also maintaining its function as a place of worship. Visitors from all over the world are invited to explore the church’s many layers of history.
Santa Croce provides an interesting historical precedent for crowdfunding. In 1860, hundreds people from all across Italy responded to an open call published in national newspapers to help build a new façade for the church. The sums pledged ranged from just one lira to 358,168 lira! All of these participants are recorded in the historical archive in leather-bound books.
THE PAZZI CHAPEL
The cloister, or courtyard, located to the right of the façade of Santa Croce, provides access to the communal spaces once used by friars that are now part of the Museum of Santa Croce. This area dates to after 1423, when a fire destroyed an earlier structure. In 1429, Andrea de’ Pazzi commissioned Filippo Brunelleschi to build this chapel, which was to act as the chapter house, a meeting room for the friars. Brunelleschi died in 1446 and we are unsure exactly how much of the chapel was complete at that time. A number of artists are cited as having contributed to finishing the building, including Michelozzo, Rossellino, Giuliano da Maiano and Antonio Manetti Ciaccheri.
The Pazzi Chapel reflects other works by Brunelleschi, in particular the Old Sacristy commissioned by the Medici family at the church of San Lorenzo, also in Florence. San Lorenzo was where Brunelleschi first developed a floor plan based on squares and circles to create a harmonious centrally planned chapel. In the Pazzi Chapel, he expanded on this, using a rectangular base and a more complex division of space.
For Brunelleschi, architecture itself was the main decorative element – the stark contrast of the grey pietra serena and the white walls was enough. Later patrons and artists usually wanted to add colour or additional iconography to his pure settings, as we can see in other churches designed by the architect in Florence like San Lorenzo and Santo Spirito. In the Pazzi Chapel, there are roundels of tin-glazed ceramic representations of the 12 apostles by Luca della Robbia that add touches of colour to the interior. A stained-glass window above the altar depicts Sant’Andrea (the patron’s namesake) by the artist Alessio Baldovinetti, and the cupola above the altar is painted in fresco. But the most decorative part of this chapel is actually its loggia.
THE LOGGIA AND ITS DECORATION
The loggia is the arched structure in front of the chapel, open on three sides. The structure has six columns that create a large central opening and two side openings, reflecting the interior floor plan. The columns support a frieze of cherubim (winged angel heads). Above, the façade is divided into geometric shapes that have been interpreted as crosses, a reference to the Church of Santa Croce itself. Under the loggia, there are finely decorated vaults. Two barrel vaults are covered in high-relief sculpted rosettes in pietra serena, and the central dome’s underside is a floral maiolica explosion attributed to Luca della Robbia, with the Pazzi coat of arms at the centre.
These decorations are the most visible object of this restoration; their age and media require them to be attended to by specialists who can carefully clean and conserve them. Beyond being a prime example of 15th-century architectural ornament, the authorship of the loggia is still a subject of debate by art historians, and the decoration is a major key to this mystery, making it ever more important to preserve it.
Risks and challenges
Opera di Santa Croce has received multiple offers from qualified restoration companies and has chosen one based on both cost and skill. The estimate sets aside a reasonable amount of the budget for “unknown” factors, the kinds of set-backs that one might encounter during any physical project, and in the case of any extras, Opera di Santa Croce guarantees coverage.
Nonetheless, the loggia has been under intense study since 2006 and the team has carefully surveyed all elements, so surprises are unlikely. Another risk in physical projects is getting the appropriate permits, and this has been eliminated as Opera di Santa Croce is already in possession of all the correct documentation to begin work as soon as funding is covered.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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