The entrance of
An open portico embellished by 11th century
sandstone pillars gives access to the Museum of Sacred Art housed in the Bishops
The museum was established and officially opened on the 20th December 1932 by Canon
Maurizio Cavallini. Throughout the years the museum has been periodly closed to the
public.The building was damaged during the war in 1944 and reopened on the 4th June 1956
due to recent restoration work, was reopened on the 19th December 1992.
The Museum displays works of art from the cathedral and the churches of the diocese and a
particularly interesting collection of wooden and fictile sculptures, holy vestments,
ecclesiastical furnishings and the only remaining 14th century marble sculptures once
housed in the Cathedral.
The stairway leading to the museum is decorated with splendid 10th century architraves
from the Pieve di San Lorenzo in Montalbano. The marble cherub frieze is the work of Mino
da Fiesole and the eleven trilobed arches and marble columns may have originally belonged
to the choir of the San Giusto Abbey.
The first room exhibits wooden fragments taken from the coffered ceiling of the
cathedral.in the 19th century. The carved figures are the work of the sculptor Jacopo
Pavolini who in collaboration with the architect Francesco Capriani completed the ceiling
in the 16th century.
Six elegant 13th century marble intarsia panels of the Pisan school of art which orinally
served as the balustrade of the high altar in the cathedral and plaster casts of the eight
below the Incontri funeral monument in the catherdral.
The seven 14th century rectangular reliefs depicting episodes of the lives of saints
Ottaviano and Vittore are particularly noteworthy. Four of the panels relate the story of
the procession and martyrdom of Saint Vittore while the other three relate the story of
Saint Ottaviano.Venturi has attributed the seven panels to Agostino di Giovanni and Agnolo
The earliest works in marble are the four
portrait medallions in relief of Saints Giusto, Clemeente, ttaviano and Vittore attributed
to the great artist Tino da Camaino.
The Roman sarcophagus dates back to the first centuries A.D. reutilized in 1037 as a
funeral monument to Bishop Goffredo.
The tomb stone portraying the warrior Michele Pigi Buonaguidi of Volterra dressed in
armour and wielding a sword was sculptured in 1378.
In the next room Madonna and child with two angels , (the kneeling figures are the two who
commissioned the painting) by Giovanni dAgostino.
The Madonna enthroned with child originally displayed in the lunette above the main
entrance of the church of San Michele attests an intensive artistic revival during the
first half of the 14th century.
A noteworthy and finely painted wood panel The Crucifixion by a disciple of Giunta Pisano.
A wood panel, considered to be one of Daniele Ricciarellis masterpieces Madonna
enthroned and child with Saints Peter and Paul was executed in 1545.
A fine collection of silver and a bronze gilded Crucifix by Giambologna commissioned for
the Chapel of San Poalo in the Cathedral by Admiral Inghirami.
The pala from Villamagna was painted by Rosso Fiorentino in 1521, the same year as the
celebrated Deposition housed in the Art Gallery.
The show cases display leather holders, crosses, censers,incense boats and among the many
reliquaries there is an exquisite reliquary bust of SantOttaviano in embossed silver
and gilded copper by Antonio del Pollaiolo, a work handed over to the Commune of Volterra
in1534. There is also a beautiful double faced silver cross embossed with a leaf and acorn
executed by the same artist (above) donated by Mario Maffei on the 15th August 1535 to
a similar work stolen by Ferrucci in 1530.
A silver bust reliquary of San Vittore which Ricci attributed to Antonio of Volterra
datable to the beginning of the 15th century.The small lions at the base of the reliquary
are the works of the 14th century Sienese masters Ugino di Vieri and Viva di Lando.
A casket of gilded copper inlaid with imitation gems utilized as a reliquary was
originally a gift from the Empress of Austria to Bishop Antinori and according to Ricci is
a work of Benvenuto Cellini.
The alabaster ciborium 1575 and the marble and alabaster holy water font 1567 are two
exquisite examples of the revival of the alabaster craft interrupted during the Middle
A collection of 15th -19th ecclesiastical furnishings and holy vestments, two parchment
antiphonaries with Gregorian notations and exquisitely illuminated by the monk, Agostino
in 1299, six illuminated antiphonaries donated by Antonio Zeno to the Volterran bishops
Francesco Soderini who later became cardinal and his nephew Giuliano conclude the visit of
this small but interesting museum.