(b. ca. 1308, Firenze, d. ca. 1368, Firenze)

Busts of Prophets and Saints

Detached frescoes
Ubriachi Chapel, Museo di Santa Maria Novella, Florence

The detached frescoes distributed on the walls, depicting thirty-five busts of Prophets and Saints and a fragment of a decorative band, come originally from the groins of the vault of the Cappella Maggiore of the church. They are the only fragments that have survived from the work by Orcagna and his assistants, dating to the years preceding the middle of the 14th century, that decorated the chapel before Domenico Ghirlandaio and his workshop painted their Stories of the Virgin and of St. John the Baptist at the end of the 15th century,that we can still see today.

It is probable that from 1348 to 1352 Andrea was occupied with decorating the Cappella Maggiore in Santa Maria Novella. This was the most extensive fresco cycle in Florence up to that time, but it was destroyed owing to a leaking roof and was replaced (1485-90) with frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio, which show the same scenes that Andrea had depicted. Only the busts of figures from the Old Testament have survived from the original frescoes in the vault. The work of five different painters can be recognized, one of whom was certainly Orcagna, while another may have been his brother Nardo.

Ubriachi Chapel was once a chapel of the patronage of the Florentine family named Ubriachi. Since 1983, it has become a museum exhibiting works of art and sacred furnishings coming from other areas of the monumental complex of Santa Maria Novella.