Santa Maria dei Servi

The huge brick church of the Servites, begun in the 13th century but enlarged over the next two centuries and so not finished and consecrated until 1533. The 15th century façade remains unfinished. Suffered harsh restoration in 1925.

The interior, remodelled during the Renaissance, is plain and fine, though marred by 19th-century restoration. The majority of the art here is very worthy of your attention and covers a wide range of centuries. There are five deep bays with altars in each aisle.

Right side
The first on the right is a small enclosed chapel with Anonymous 14th-century fresco fragments on the outside wall of The Last Judgement (over the arch) and The Virgin Freeing Souls from Purgatory (in a frame) (see far below right).
Over the first main altar on the right is the very Byzantine highlight Virgin and Child with Two Angels (known as the Madonna di Bordone because of a pilgrim's staff previously placed near it) (see right) of 1261 by Coppo di Marcovaldo, a Florentine artist captured at the battle of Montaperti in 1260 and probably made to paint this picture to earn his freedom. It's his first known major work and the only one safely attributable, having been signed and dated on the frame. The painting is often cited by historians keen to stress the influenc of Florentine art in Siena, but this denies the fact that Sienese artists were having no trouble developing their own take on Byzantine art at the time. The heads had their detailing softened and made more Ducciesque by a local artist at the beginning of the 14th century, a fact revealed by x-radiography. It is flanked by Santa Caterina and San Rocco panels by Arcangelo Salimbeni from the later 16th century.
The last altar on the right has an impressive and gilt-detailed Massacre of the Innocents of 1491 by Matteo di Giovanni, who somewhat specialised in altarpieces of this subject - two earlier versions are in Santa Caterina a Formello in Naples and Sant'Agostino here in Siena. He also made a marble pavement panel of the same subject in the Duomo. The one here features his perverse taste for the stabby and creepy. There is a Virgin and Saints lunette above by him too.

The end of the right transept arm has a painted 14th century Crucifix, by Niccolò di Segna. Underneath is an altar with the remains of the Blessed Francesco Patrizi, a well-loved Sienese Servite of the 13th-century, known locally as Francesco Tarlato (worm-eaten Francesco) due to the state of his remains. Over the door to the left is a small Virgin and Child by Segna di Bonaventura, a nephew of Duccio and the father of the Niccolò mentioned above.
The 14th century Massacre of the Innocents fresco on the right wall of the far right chapel in the deep transept is by Niccolò and Francesco di Segna and Pietro Lorenzetti. The fresco of Saint Agnes in the apse in here is school of Pietro Lorenzetti.
The chapel nearest the apse has an early 20th century gold-ground triptych by Alexander Franchi.
The high altarpiece is a big single panel depicting The Coronation of the Virgin by Bernardino Fungai from 1501.

The first chapel left of apse has some anonymous fresco fragments, but the last one has an impressive collection of big damaged 14th-century frescoes by the same artists as the Massacre... previously mentioned aka 'school of Pietro Lorenzetti'. They depict the Banquet of Herod (see above) and Assumption of John the Evangelist. Also an Adoration of the Shepherds panel of 1404 (see right) part of a now disassembled triptych by Taddeo di Bartolo (see Lost art below) which was painted for the Bindi family altar.

Left side

The left transept end chapel has a Madonna del Misericordia altarpiece, signed and dated 1431 by Giovanni di Paolo, a pupil of Taddeo di Bartolo. The leader of the monks sheltered by the Virgin's cloak on one side is Filippo Benizzi, a Servite general whose life is illustrated by Andrea del Sarto in the Chiostrino dei Voti in Santissima Annunziata in Florence.
Coming back up the left aisle, second altar from the back has a small panel of the Madonna del Belvedere a rare work by Jacopo di Mino del Pelliciaio, a pupil of Lippo Memmi, flanked by Saint Joseph and Mary Magdalene by Bernadino Fungai, also responsible for the high altarpiece here. The first chapel has a bright and Barocci-influenced  Annunciation by Francesco Vanni of 1589.
A Virgin and Child by Taddeo di Bartolo, called the Madonna Belverde, of c.1405 was restored 2017-18, so maybe that's why I missed it. It's called Belverde because in 1529 an outbreak of the plague lead to the chapel where it was housed being draped in green cloth, in hope of the Virgin's intercession. It was the central panel of an altarpiece painted for the Petroni family for their chapel two along from the chancel in the right transept, near the door to the sacristy.  Next time (and the similarly-titled Madonna in the previous paragraph worries me).

Lost art

A very sweet panel of the Virgin and Child Enthroned with Four Angels of 1470 is all that remains of an altarpiece commissioned by the Della Ciaia family for their altar here by Matteo di Giovanni (see right) is in the Pinacoteca.
A Virgin and Child, known as the Madonna del Popolo, signed by Lippo Memmi, (late 1320s) although its high quality points to involvement by Simone Martini, his brother-in-law. It is now in the Pinacoteca.
The predella panel depicting The Adoration of the Magi flanked by two Servite beati, from the lost 1404 triptych by Taddeo di Bartolo, of which only the Adoration of the Shepherds panel mentioned above remains here, is now in the Lindenau Museum in Altenburg. The panels flanking the central ...Shepherds would have been full-length saints, but are now lost.

Massive, brick, 14th-century, restored in 1926.

Opening times Daily 8.30 - 6.30



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