The Palazzo Minucci-Solaini situated in the centre of Volterra is attributed to Antonio Sangallo the Elder in collaboration with Baccio D’Agnelo. Built at the end of the 15th century, the palace is now the Art Gallery and Civic Museum housing an important collection of paintings from local monasteries, churches, the cathedral, the Saint Linus conservatory in San Pietro, Spedali Riuniti and medieval and contemporary works of art property of the Guarnacci Museum.
The first paintings were collected by Luigi Fedra Inghirami, an employee of the cathedral. He began to collect paintings from the deposits of suppressed religious orders which he assembled in the Chapel of San Carlo in the cathedral in 1842. It was,however Corrado Ricci , Superintendent and later Director General of Antiquities and Fine Arts who founded the first Art Gallery in 1905 located on the second floor of the Palazzo dei Priori. The collection was transferred to the Palazzo Minucci-Solaini in 1982.
A splendid example of Rennaissance architecture, meticulous restoration work has recently revealed its original structure, the exquisite symmetary of the fašade and elegant harmony of the interior courtyard.


The Deposition by Rosso Fiorentino, 1521

The visit begins in the internal open courtyard leading out to the garden and it is under the elegantly proportioned portico that contemporary works of art are often exhibited.
Ascend the flight of stairs to the first floor.
Room I - A marble lunette portraying the scene of Acteon devoured by his hounds interpreted
in Medieval style by an unknown 12th century artist.
Two 12th century capitals in Volterran alabaster.The capital depicting a mermaid with a forked tail and Daniel among the lions is particularly interesting.A small head of a Prophet in Carrara marble from the Fontana Maggiore in Perugia, attributed to Giovanni Pisano(13th century). A 13th century Crucifix painted by a Tuscan Master.The elongated features, and drooping head place this master in the circle of Coppo di Marcovaldo.
Room II - Two wood panels of San Giusto and Sant’Ugo from a polyptych datable to the 14th century Sienese school of art; a small altar piece of the Virgin and child with two saints;
the Crucifix with saints, in the centre of the room, has been stylistically attributed to Duccio.
The eighteenth century chapel with an altar surmounted by The Holy Conversation attributed to Giandomenico Ferretti, leads into the room dedicated to Taddeo di Bartolo.
Room III- A splendid gilded polyptych painted and signed by Taddeo di Bartolo in 1411 depicting
the Madonna and child with saints Anthony Abbot, John the Baptist and Francis of Assisi. This noteworthy work of art painted at the height of artistic maturity still contains the predella that tells the story of the saints depicted in the polyptych.
Room IV, a wood panel depicting the Madonna and child with saints Catherine and Lucia
by the Pisan artist Jacopo di Michele known as Il Gera; a polyptych by the Florentine artist Cenni di Ser Cenni and a PietÓ by the Volterran artist Francesco di Neri a splendid example of Volterran painting between the 14th and early 15th centuries.
Room V-A polyptych by Alvaro Pirez of the Virgin and child with saints Nicholas, John the Baptist,
Christopher and Michael; two wooden sculptures of the Annunciation by the Sienese artist Francesco di Domenico Valdambrino datable to the first decade of the 15th century and a small Crucifixion with mourners by a 15th century Florentine artist.
Room VI - a collection painted in the second half of the 15th century although in an earlier style,
The Madonna with the long neck by Stefano di Antonio Vanni; San Bernardino by Priamo della Quercia and two other paintings.


Room III: Taddeo di Bartolo

Room VII - a wood panel of Saint Sebastian with saints Nicholas and Bartholomew by the Florentine painter Neri di Bicci and a Christ in PietÓ by Pier Francesco Fiorentino,
Room VIII -a wood panel of the Nativity and a predella relating the story of Mary by the Sienese artist Benvenuto di Giovanni (1478) and a terracotta Christ in PietÓ, the emblem of Monte Pio. The Room IX - a magnificent wood panel of Christ in Glory by Domenico Ghirlandaio, commissioned by Lorenzo de’Medici for the Abbey in San Giusto, an eloquent example of the Florentine artist’s narrative skill and talent in finely portraying the life and society of his time; a wood panel attributed to Maestro di Santo Spirito and a panel by Leonardo di Pistoia a copy of Raphael’s Madonna of the Baldacchino.
Room X - two wood panels by Luca Signorelli, A Madonna and child with saints , and the Annunciation in which the sweeping movement of the angel’s drapery and the Madonna poised to take her leave are framed by the portico and the perspective of the Rennaissance architecture in the foreground.
The wood panel of the Deposition ,signed and dated 1521 by Rosso Fiorentino is a masterpiece of the Tuscan Mannerist painter. The composition is dictated by the actual form of the pala. From the figure of Christ being unnailed from the cross the attention is drawn to the mourners and in particular to Mary Magdalen in the process of throwing herself at Mary’s feet while the desperate figure of St. John clutching his head turns away from the scene.
On the second floor there is the so-called “Mannerist room” with two noteworthy paintings by Pier de Witte, the Nativity and the Lamentation a splendid painting with a scenic landscape in the foreground , an exqusite Mary Magdelan recalling the PietÓ of Fra Bartolomeo di Pitti and Christ’s dangling arm similar to that of Michael Angelo’s PietÓ in Santo Spirito.
The Birth of the Virgin Mary by Donato Mascagni with obvious influences from his master Jacopo Ligozzi, an evocative scene delicately lit by the high windows.
An historically interesting collection incuding fragments by G.Bugiardini, medallions by the Tosini- Brina school and some works from the German and Flemish schools.
And finally, a master piece by the Volterran artist Baldassare Franceshini, the Madonna and child with saints .
Before leaving the palazzo do visit the top floor gallery offering a panoramic view of the Roman Theatre and the surrounding landscape


Palazzo Minucci Solaini
(the courtyard)

 


The Deposition

 


Annunciation,
by L. Signorelli

Annunciation,
by L. Signorelli

PietÓ, by the Volterran artist Francesco di Neri, sec XIV

Polyptych, by Taddeo di Bartolo