This chapel was once the scene of a gruesome ceremony. Old Jacopo Pazzi, the head of the family at the time of the Pazzi conspiracy against the Medici, after being hanged from a window of the Palazzo Vecchio, was buried here. Some short while afterwards Florence was inundated by rain to such an extent that the vengeance of God was inferred, and, casting about for a reason, the Florentines decided that it was because Jacopo had been allowed to rest in sacred soil. A mob therefore rushed to S. Croce, broke open his tomb and dragged his body through the streets, stopping on their way at the Pazzi palace to knock on the door with his skull. He was then thrown into the swollen Arno and borne away by the tide.
In the old refectory of the convent are now a number of pictures and fragments of sculpture. The “Last Supper,” by Taddeo Gaddi, on the wall, is notable for depicting Judas, who had no shrift at the hands of the painters, without a halo. Castagno and Ghirlandaio, as we shall see, under similar circumstances, placed him on the wrong side of the table. In either case, but particularly perhaps in Taddeo’s picture, the answer to Christ’s question, which Leonardo at Milan makes so dramatic, is a foregone conclusion. The “Crucifixion” on the end wall, at the left, is interesting as having been painted for the Porta S. Gallo (in the Piazza Cavour) and removed here. All the gates of Florence had religious frescoes in them, some of which still remain. The great bronze bishop is said to be by Donatello and to have been meant for Or San Michele; but one does not much mind.
One finds occasion to say so many hard things of the Florentine disregard of ancient art that it is peculiarly a pleasure to see the progress that is being made in restoring Brunelleschi’s perfect cloisters at S. Croce to their original form. When they were turned into barracks the Loggia was walled in all round and made into a series of rooms. These walls are now gradually coming away, the lovely pillars being again isolated, the chimneys removed, and everything lightly washed. Grass has also been sown in the great central square. The crumbling of the decorative medals in the spandrels of the cloisters cannot of course be restored; but one does not complain of such natural decay as that.
Michelangelo—The David—The tomb of Julius—A contrast—Fra Angelico—The beatific painter—Cimabue and Giotto—Masaccio—Gentile da Fabriano—Domenico Ghirlandaio—Fra Angelico again—Fra Bartolommeo—Perugino—Botticelli—The “Primavera”—Leonardo da Vinci and Verrocchio—Botticelli’s sacred pictures—Botticini—Tapestries of Eden.