Fresco, SS. Annunziata, Florence.
DOCUMENTS: A.S.F., Conv. Sopp. 119 (SS. Annunziata), no. 705
(Libro del Camarlingo, Entrata e Uscita, October 1512 to 1516),
c.109 r., 190 v., 112 v.:
17 October 1513: “A muraglia a dì decto sette suon per parte di dipintura del arme di messere Lorenzo Puci, portò Giohanne batista decto el rosso – L.7 – ”
20 October 1513: “A spesse di muraglia a dì decto F. dua d’oro porto Giohanni batista detto el rosso per parte di dipintura de larme de messere lorenzo pucci – L.14”
10 November 1513: “A muraglia adì decto F. dua doro inoro suon per resto di dipintura de larme sopra a Sancto Sebastiano porto Giohanne batista di jacopo dipintore.”
Santuario della Santissima Annunziata, 1876, 11-12, mentions the documentation of 1513, and the payment of 5 scudi, and places the arms over the door of the Pucci Chapel in the atrium.
Milanesi, in Vasari-Milanesi, V, 156, n. 1, says that Rosso was paid 5 scudi according to Padre Filippo Maria Tozzi’s Memorie del Convento de’ Servi, a manuscript at the church. Colnaghi, 1928, 236, as in Milanesi, but relates the last document to Rosso’s Assumption. Shearman, 1960, 153, published the documents related to this work. Carroll, 1987, 14, 33, n. 14, mentioned as above the door of the Pucci family chapel. Ciardi, 1994, 57-58, 95, n. 126. Costamagna, 1994, 22, 132, as done above the door in the atrium leading to the Pucci chapel. Franklin, 1994, 14, 296, Appendix A, DOCUMENTS 5a-c, while noting that it has been suggested that the arms were over the door in the atrium leading to the oratory of St. Sebastian, it is equally likely that they were located above the door at the right of the façade of the church facing the street.1
Vasari, 1550, 796, in the “Life” of Rosso: “Lavorò sopra la porta di San Sebastiano de’ Servi, l’arme de’ Pucci con due figure,…” Vasari, 1568, II, 205 (Vasari-Milanesi, V, 156): “Lavorò sopra la porta di san Sebastiano de’ Servi, essendo ancor sbarbato, quando Lorenzo Pucci fu da papa Leone fatto Cardinale, l’arme de Pucci, con due figure,…” Kusenberg, 1931, 8, 9, mentioned. Venturi, IX, 5, 193-194, as done after September 23 when Pucci was made a Cardinal, wrongly relating the last document to Rosso’s Assumption, following Colnaghi. Paatz, I, 1940, 122, as painted over the door of the chapel of the Pucci but without specifying which door.
As had already been thought, Shearman, 1960, 153, and 1965, I, 166, placed these lost arms over the door to the Pucci Chapel, dedicated to St. Sebastian, that occupies the wall space in the atrium of the Annunziata immediately to the right of where Sarto was at this very same time executing his Birth of the Virgin. Ciardi and Mugnaini, 1991, also placed them there and wondered if traces might still be found in situ. In documents for other work when it is known that work in the atrium is meant this door is clearly indicated as “la porta di Sancto Bastiano” and “la porta … della chapella di San Bastiano” but it is also called “la porta del fianco della chapella di San Bastiano” (see under P.3). Hence Shearman could be right. But this is not absolutely certain. It is just possible that the door was the one on the exterior of the chapel facing the piazza in front of the Annunziata, as Franklin also suggested, and that this is the location that Vasari meant by not referring to the atrium (cortile), which he does mention when writing of Rosso’s Assumption. Ridolfo Ghirlandaio’s Annunciation, evaluated in September 1514 (Vasari-Milanesi, IV, 575, and VI, 539), in the Cappella dei Priori of the Palazzo Vecchio, shows the façade of the church, which does not, it is true, have anything painted over this door (Thiem, 1961, 2, Fig. 1). But it also does not show the sculpted Medici arms and Pontormo’s Faith and Charity above the porch although the latter were completed by June 1514 (Clapp, 1916, 166). In other words, Ghirlandaio’s depiction may well not show the actual appearance of the façade at the time he executed his fresco. To celebrate Pucci’s elevation to the cardinalate his arms showing his ecclesiastical rank would have perhaps made a greater impression above the outside door than above the entrance to the chapel from the atrium. If they were outside they would, two years hence, have formed a counterpart to the arms of Leo X with two figures by Rosso executed in 1515 over the outside door at the far left of the church leading to the Chiostro de’ Morti (L.9). It should be noted that in his 1568 reference to the Pucci arms Vasari mentions that he was made a cardinal by Leo X. Furthermore, in presenting the arms of Leo X, Vasari says that they were over another door at the church, apparently referring back to his only shortly preceding mention of the Pucci arms. In this outside location, which Berti, 1983, 55, also indicates, Rosso would not have been working right next to Sarto while he was painting his Birth of the Virgin, and working outside might have been a more possible situation. If painted on the exterior façade of the chapel, the arms would have been destroyed with the remodeling of the façade in 1601-1604 (Santuario della Santissima Annunziata, 1876, 4-7, and Paatz, I, 1940, 68, 78, 142, n. 72). Why and when the arms would have been removed from the atrium, had they been painted there, are not known.
The fresco may have shown the two figures mentioned by Vasari flanking the coat-of-arms somewhat like the arrangement in Andrea di Cosimo Feltrini’s drawing in the Louvre (Thiem, 1961, 3, Fig. 3 and 5) of the arms of Leo X designed in 1513. But instead they may have been shown holding up the coat-of-arms above them as may have been the case with Rosso’s later arms of Leo X on the façade of the Annunziata. With two figures the Pucci arms might have been a more extensive work than the coats-of-arms that he painted shortly before in the “camera del generale” of this church (L.7).