National Museum of San Matteo

Museo Nazionale di S. Matteo (G. Bettini, Comune di Pisa)
Museo Nazionale di S. Matteo (G. Bettini, Comune di Pisa)
A treasure chest of medieval art, which contains many of the wonders once scattered among the numerous Pisan churches. The collection was born in 1796, thanks to the dean of the clerics of the Cathedral, Sebastiano Zucchetti, and was placed inside the chapel by the Pozzo del Campo Santo, to be later moved to the halls of the convent of San Francesco. The new National Museum of San Matteo was established in 1947, at its current location. The visit starts from the thirteenth-century cloister of the monastery, where we find Roman and medieval finds from many areas of the city. On the back of the church, which still retains its medieval aspect, starts the section of sculptures from the 11th to the 14th centuries, with works by Byzantine and Pisan sculptors, dominated by the large sepulchre of the Counts of Gherardesca (of which only a part is present) by Lupo di Francesco. On the first floor there is a hall, unique in its kind, exhibiting painted crosses, among which the Crucifixes by Giunta Pisano (13th century) and the Cross of San Paolo all' Orto (end of the 11th century), the most ancient in Italy.
The gallery of altarpieces and polyptychs displays grandiose works by Cecco di Pietro, Francesco Traini, The Giotto school and the famous and monumental polyptych of Santa Caterina, by Simone Martini of 1319. These are followed by the Italian and foreign masters who participated in the Pisan artistic season of the fourteenth century, such as Alvaro Pirez d'Evora. The hall dedicated to the church of the Spina is a jewel of Gothic art and exhibits one of the greatest masterpieces of the Italian fourteenth century, the Madonna del Latte by Andrea Pisano (1343-1348). A long corridor with marble sculptures, including works by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, is introduced by a very small part of the collection of ceramic basins of Islamic and local origin that once adorned the most important religious buildings in the city (X-XIII century).
The gallery of wooden sculptures reveals an important local production which developed in the fourteenth century and include elegant works, such as the Annunciata by Agostino di Giovanni and Stefano Acolti (1321), which shows the typical movements of the models of the 1920s of the last century. They are followed by high-value works from the flowery Gothic style of Gentile da Fabriano to the delicate lines of Beato Angelico, to the only surviving piece of the great Pisa polyptych by Masaccio, and an austere San Paolo (1426), from the church of Carmine. Benozzo Gozzoli and Ghirlandaio conclude the galleries of painters. The last hall displays the reliquary bust of San Lussorio made between 1422 and 1427 by the Renaissance master Donatello. The visit ends with a curious en plein air restoration laboratory that shows the delicate work of recovery and conservation of the ancient works.

Church of San Matteo in Soarta: Donated in 1027 to the Benedictine order, the church already existed in the 8th century, when it was smaller and had a triple apse. The façade was rebuilt in 1608 by Cosimo Pugliani following a disastrous fire and also two separate environments were created inside. The building has a single hall with numerous fresco decorations on the walls, works by the Pisan painters Giuseppe and Francesco Melani made between 1730 and 1735. The real jewel of the church is represented by the decoration of the ceiling, with the fresco of the Glory of San Matteo (1717), also by the Melani brothers, with evident references to the art of Pietro da Cortona. On the external side there are traces of the 11th century building, with blind arches and lozenges typical of Pisan-Romanesque architecture. The original bell tower was demolished by the Florentines in 1509.
Curious fact: in 1917, Pablo Picasso was in Rome, as the superintendent of the sets for the Russian ballet by Sergei Diaghilev. Before returning to Spain, he was attracted to the paintings preserved in the Pisan Campo Santo, made known by the reproductions of the English Pre-Raphaelites. In front of the large detached fresco of the Madonna and Child by Taddeo Gaddi, from the church of San Francesco and now in the museum of San Matteo, he was dazzled by its Gothic linearity, at a time when his interest in returning to the ancient order was very high. Without delay, perhaps driven by an artistic-vandalic impulse, he left his signature followed by the date: Picasso 1917. The work is currently being restored.
The National Museum of San Matteo was the set of some scenes from the film Figlio mio infinitamente caro (My Dearest Son) (1985) by the Pisan director Valentino Orsini, starring Mariangela Melato, Ben Gazzara, Sergio Rubini, and Valeria Golino. A dramatic film that tells of a paternal love for a son. The film is entirely shot in Pisa: not only around the tower, but also in the Piazza dei Cavalieri, the Lungarni, the museum of San Matteo, the Campano tower, and the Borgo Stretto...
Mazzini, 90 p.3
Recapito 331 1487006
Lungarno Mediceo, 16 p.2
Recapito 333 8546761
Piazza della Repubblica, 5-6
Recapito 050 598947
Via La Tinta, 11-13
Recapito 050 2201404 - 412 - 049
Lungarno Mediceo, 15
Recapito 050 9913302
Via Santa Bibbiana, 11
Recapito 050 542504
Via Garibaldi Giuseppe, 18
Recapito 050 540241
Via Sebastiano Silvestri, 10/12
Recapito 050 28287