Art and spirituality: an eternal beauty in Volterra
The ancient devotion has left Tuscany and Italy a heritage of masterpieces without equal!
The Museum of Sacred Art is located inside the Church of Sant’Agostino. In addition to the original church furnishings and decorations, the exhibition contains pieces from the Cathedral of Volterra and other Churches of the Dioceses: including paintings, reliquaries, furniture and furnishings.
Sacred art in Volterra Volterra
Wooden sculptures, sacred vestments and paintings
Inaugurated on 30 June 2017, the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art in the Church of Saint Augustine was built thanks to the legacy of Mrs. Franca Paoletti Adamo, as written on the plaque on the right hand wall at the entrance. In addition to the original outfit of the Church, deliberately unaltered, the history of exhibited works is illustrated on the panels and in the multimedia area near the entrance.
At the entrance the visitor will notice an imposing stone architrave of the X century, once belonging to the Church of Montalbano (Siena) and several ancient bells emerging from the earth, representing symbolically the many bell towers of the Diocese.
Beyond the reception point, the visitor can climb on the central platform, arranged like a big red carpet leading to the altar.
The most important paintings are outside the platform, on red panels placed on the wall between the side altars: in this way the architecture of the Church and its set of works are not altered by the new museum function.
On the left a wooden crucifix from Castelfiorentino painted in the XIII century and, on the right, a sixteenth century Holy water font, from the urban Church of Sant’Andrea, in alabaster the characteristic stone of Volterra.
On the right wall of the Church the panel depicting the “Madonna in throne and Saints”, by Domenico di Michelino, a Florentine painter of the fifteenth century.
At the center of the platform, the glazed terracotta bust of San Lino, Pope and martyr patron of the Diocese of Volterra, built between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries byBenedetto Buglioni.
Approaching the altar, always on the right, the beautiful ciborium in alabaster of the XVI century, with its characteristic circular temple shape with columns; while on the wall of the Church, the magnificent table, with its predella, depicting “The Annunciation” by Benvenuto di Giovanni, dated 1466.
Also in the center of the platform, the silver and gilded copper reliquary bust attributed to Antonio del Pollaiolo, depicting Saint Ottaviano hermit, also patron of the city of Volterra; then a series of ancient sacred vestments, made of precious fabrics, which accompany the visitor, as in a procession, on his way to the altar.
In the Chapel of the Saints Innocenti, to the right of the high altar, one of the two masterpieces by Giovambattista di Jacopo, known as Rosso Fiorentino: the “Enthroned Madonna between Saints John the Baptist and Bartholomew” executed in 1521 for the ancient parish church of Villamagna.
In the Chapel to the left of the main altar , the table of the greatest Volterra painter of the seventeenth century, Baldassare Franceschini, depicting “Saints Tommaso Villanova and Chiara di Montefalco”, which frames the the tabernacle with the relic of the Holy Thorns of the crown of Christ.
In the last display case on the left on the platform, a precious antiphonary in two volumes, richly illuminated in 1300 by an Augustinian monk.
On the wall of the Church a door leads into the sacristy, with its original 17th century furniture and with two display cases where you can see precious old and modern golden jewellery.
Back to the Church, before leaving, have a look at the “Enthroned Madonna between Saints Peter and Paul”, a table painted in 1545 for thesmall rural Church of Ulignano by Daniele Ricciarelli da Volterra, better known as “the Braghettone “having dressed the “Ignudi” (Naked) of the Michelangelo Sistine Chapel.