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Bronzino, The Descent of Christ Into Limbo


In the Basilica of Santa Croce museum, in the Refectory, where the Cimabue crucifix hangs, there is an now an exhibit set up in the middle of the space.

One of the paintings featured is Bronzino's 1552 masterpiece "The Descent of Christ Into Limbo". The predella of this work was "lost" in the Santa Croce complex since the flood of 1966 or before - it was previously removed from the church itself when Vasari made alterations to the piazza end of the building. It was only "discovered" again in 2003 and had been in restoration along with the main painting since - and what a restoration it has been.

In 2010 the New York Times said this about "The Descent of Christ Into Limbo":

"In 1552, the artist crowded his "Descent of Christ into Limbo" for the Santa Croce church with lovely nudes of both sexes and all ages, many of them recognizable as living Florentines, including two celebrated local beauties. Vasari praised them for their "different features and attitudes that are depicted very naturally," but others thought that this time the painter's realism had gone too far. The panel has been regularly condemned as lewd, even into modern times."

The painting is on a giant panel made up of several pieces of wood (over 4 meters tall) and was badly damaged by the 1966 flood. It has been skillfully restored (perhaps overly so) to such a brilliance that it looks brand new. If you visit Santa Croce make sure to visit this part of the complex and see this striking work by a mature Bronzino.


The Descent of Christ Into Limbo, 1552, by Bronzino in the Opera di Santa Croce

Opera di Santa Croce Opening Hours and Ticket Prices

From Monday to Saturday
9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., No further admission after 5 p.m.

Sunday and Religious Holidays
Epiphany (6 January), Assumption (15 August), All Saints (1 November), Immaculate Conception (8 December).
12:30 p.m. - 5:45 p.m., No further admission after 5 p.m.

Holiday Closings
New Year's Day (January 1st), Easter, Feast of St. Anthony of Padua (June 13th), Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4th), Christmaas Day (December 25th), Boxing Day (December 26th)

Full price of the ticket is now €8, discounts are available. Entrance for worship and residents of Florence (with your carta d'identità) is free. Tickets are available here.

The Opera di Santa Croce on the map:

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