San Francesco, Prato
The edifice was begun in 1281, next to an oratory of the Franciscan convent, which had been built in 1228. It was finished in 1331, the first building in Prato built in brickwork instead of stone. The façade is divided in bichrome stripes in alberese and serpentinite with a central portal, and ends with a 15th-century triangular tympanum with a stucco frieze by Andrea Della Robbia, depicting the Stigmata of St. Francis. The 18th-century bell-tower was designed by Antonio Benini (1799-1801).
The large interior was restored to a neo-medieval state in 1902-1904. Among the arworks are the funerary monument of Geminiano Inghirami (c. 1460), attributed to Pasquino da Montepulciano (and stylistically similar to Antonio Rossellino), who also executed the small cyborium on the presbytery wall.
Next to a Renaissance pulpit in pietra serena is a 15th-century panel with Christ's Monogram, which is traditionally considered to have been brought to Prato by San Bernardino; above the high altar is a 14th-century polychrome wooden Crucifix, donated by the merchant Francesco Datini (who was buried next to the altar). The latter's tomb in white marble (work of Niccolò di Pietro Lamberti, 1411-12) portrays him within an elaborated Gothic tabernacle.
The cloister, dating to 1438-1440 and featuring Ionic columns, is the first Renaissance architectural work in the city. It has several coat of arms from the 15th-19th centuries, and several frescoes: a lunette with the Madonna and Child and a tabernacle with the Madonna Enthroned and Saints from the early 14th century. The Chapter (or Migliorati Chapel) was entirely frescoed around 1400 by Niccolò Gerini, with figures inspired by Giotto. The scenes include a ruined Cricifixion, the Stories of St. Matthew and Stories of St. Anthony (the latter also damaged) and, on the vault, the Evangelists.
- Comune of Prato, short introduction and photo.
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