The visit to this museum, which conserves the donation of a collector, is an experience rich with unique and original charm. It offers the chance to admire art works of diverse eras and types, and to understand the relationships which connect them to each other in refined arrangements, the fruit of the collector's taste, and of the period in which he made his selections. This brief account aims to propose a way of interpreting the variety of works held in the museum, as a possible starting point for later personal reflection and consideration.In 1946 Salvatore Romano donated about seventy objets d'art from his collection to the City of Florence, in order for them to be exhibited in this location, the fourteenth-century refectory of Santo Spirito. Each one of these objects was chosen by the donor from the almost countless number that he had found and acquired, and it was he himself, with the help of his son Francesco, who accomplished the new museum installation. The vast and solemn late medieval setting proved to be especially well-suited to housing the collection, composed of works with a variety of provenances, types, and artistic values. Now let's try to perceive and understand the major symmetries which form the basis of the elegantly scenographic installation conceived by Salvatore Romano.On the wall to the right of the entrance, over which there looms Orcagna's Crucifixion, the large coloured relief of the Madonna of Mercy is placed on an axis with the figure of Christ. Beneath, the sideboard --almost a secular altar-- is flanked by two extremely beautiful Marine Lions. On the facing wall, two important Donatello-style reliefs appear on either side of a large marble portal, which is preceded by a pair of dogs, serving as a kind of prologue to this theatrically designed arrangement. In fact, the portal is set up as the visual terminus of a perspective view that follows, in a solemn sequence, various pieces related to the theme of water, whose fulcrum is a large well-curb at the centre of the room. On the long wall across from the entrance the monumental fountain attributed to Bartolomeo Ammanati resumes and amplifies the theme of water suggested by the central series of the displayed objects.The two masterpieces by Tino di Camaino, an Angel in Adoration and a Caryatid, are on display at the far end of the room, while on the wall facing the entrance the Madonna and Child from Jacopo della Quercia's workshop forms a pendant to the similar subject attributed to Giovanni da Pisa, both of them placed within nearly identical tabernacles.The donation did not terminate the link which united the collector to these works, because Salvatore Romano, who directed the museum until his death, succeeded in having himself interred in the sarcophagus located in the rear part of the refectory.
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