Philip Stephenson presents 'Miracle on Borga Degli Albizzi'

Detail from Domenico Veneziano, 'Saint Zenobius Bishop of Florence restores to life a widow's son in Borgo degli Albizzi, Florence', about 1442-1448 © The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

On Tuesday, 9 November, Philip Stephenson, Fellow and former Dean of Homerton, gave a presentation entitled  'Miracle on Borga Degli Albizzi'. 

In a quiet corner of Gallery 6 in the Fitzwilliam Museum hang two predella panels taken from Domenico Veneziano’s altarpiece for La Chiesa di Santa Lucia de’ Magnoli in Florence. These small but wondrous works provide a springboard into 15th Century Florentine life.

In the first part of the presentation, Stephenson considered the place of these panels in the ‘St Lucy’ altarpiece as a whole and talked about their importance in the history of Renaissance art. He also summarised some recent research into the provenance and attribution of the panels which has revealed a fascinating ‘paper-trail’ taking us from the removal of the altarpiece from the church in the 16th Century through to the present day.

The second part of the talk was an exploration of the history and eventual ‘virtual’ restoration of the church clearly identifiable in the middle-distance of one of Veneziano’s panels. La Chiesa di San Pier Maggiore was a significant church in Florence up until the 18th Century when it was demolished and deemed to be unsafe. It was home to at least three outstanding works of Art  - the Jacopo di Cione altarpiece, Botticini’s Palmieri altarpiece (both in the National Gallery) and Tommaso Manzuoli’s The Visitation which now hangs in Trinity Hall Chapel and brings us neatly back to Cambridge.

Recently a team of archaeologists and art historians, including colleagues from the Department of History of Art at the University of Cambridge, produced a virtual reconstruction of the church in all its glory which was considered at the conclusion of the talk. 

 This one-hour presentation took place before Formal Hall in the Bamford Room and is part of a College research lecture series. The Vice-Principal of Homerton College, William Foster, is now accepting volunteers who might like to speak at a seminar later this term or during Lent or Easter. Especially welcome would be presentations from those who are new to Homerton or who have recently embarked on a new line of research.