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capella final

On 30 December 1365 painter Andrea di Firenze signed a contract for the decoration of the chapter house (known as the Spanish Chapel) of Santa Maria Novella in Florence.
The Chapter House is misleadingly known as Spanish Chapel, because of its use in the sixteenth century by the Spanish community in Florence.
According to the contract, he was to complete the chapel’s frescoes in two years, or less. During this period, Santa Maria Novella’s friars would allow the painter and his wife to live in a nearby house free of charge.
Although Andrea only started working on the frescoes in 1365, the decoration was actually conceived in 1355, when Florentine merchant Buonamico di Lapo donated the necessary sum to the monastery. The contemporary prior Fra’ Jacopo Passavanti, his successor Fra’ Zanobi Guasconi, or an expert committee at the monastery’s theological school chose the content of the frescoes, which glorify the Dominican order. Thus, main scenes are dedicated to the thirteenth-century saints Peter Martyr and Thomas Aquinas, both Dominican friars. Other frescoes represent episodes in the life of Jesus and the Apostles, for example the Crucifixion and Pentecost. The theological structure of the Church is also represented as Church Militant and Church Triumphant.
While Andrea is generally considered a minor painter among fourteenth-century Florentine artists, his work at the chapter house reveals great skill in organizing complex scenes without using the decorative bands typical of earlier painting. Moreover, he added realism and appeal to the composition by giving individual features to each of the innumerable characters he depicted. The Chapel’s decoration was indeed considered a success by his contemporaries, leading to important commissions at the Camposanto (graveyard) of Pisa, where he worked until his death in 1379.

Andrea di Bonaiuto da Firenze was a member of the Physicians' Guild in Florence (to which painters belonged) in 1346.
He lived in the parish of Santa Maria Novella and seems to have been influenced by the work of Nardo di Cione, with whom he may have trained.
He also undertook fresco decorations for the church’s chapter house and a full-scale cartoon for the stained-glass window decoration of the façade is also attributed to him.

The earliest paintings that can be attributed to him suggest that he must have formed a close association with the workshop of Andrea di Cione. The small portable triptych of the Virgin and Child with Saints and Angels shows the influence of Maso di Banco and of the painter of the Strozzi Chapel frescoes in the Chiostrino dei Morti, S Maria Novella, Florence.

Andrea di Bonaiuto left Florence in 1355 to work in Pisa, where he stayed for roughly ten years. When he returned to Florence, he received the most important painting commission of the 1360s. From 1365 to 1367 he was engaged in painting frescoes in the Chapter House in Santa MARIA NOVELLA in Florence.
The frescoes were commissioned by Buonamico Guidalotti.
Probably as a result of this commission, Andrea was simultaneously appointed to a committee planning the design for the dome of the cathedral of Florence. He served on this board for two years, completing his term in 1367. He then spent a brief time in Orvieto before returning to Florence, where he painted a panel of Saint Luke for the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in 1374. In 1377, he accepted a commission to paint an altarpiece in Pisa, and then stayed in Pisa long enough to execute a fresco (now damaged) in the Camposanto. He died in 1379, leaving only a paltry estate for his widow and his one child, Bartolomeo.
The choice of Andrea di Bonaiuto as the painter of the Spanish Chapel suggests that he was one of the most important artists of the day is appointment to the committee planning the dome of the cathedral indicates that he was highly respected by Florentine civic leaders. There can be no doubt that Andrea was recognized as a major figure in his native city during this period, and his works in Santa Maria Novella are one of the great decorative programs of the late Trecento. But the paucity of signed or dated paintings leaves us with only a meager understanding of the artist’s abilities, interests, and influences.
Although he was acquainted with Giotto's innovations in modelling and spatial depth, Andrea was also strongly influenced by the linear, hieratic art of his Florentine contemporary Andrea Orcagna, and most of his fresco works display the rigid compositions and immobile faces associated with the Byzantine tradition. Andrea is last recorded in 1377 working on frescoes of the
Life of St. Ranieri in the Campo Santo at Pisa, and the three upper panels of this mural project are attributed to him.