11 - The frescoes of the Oliveri Chapel

The right hand-side chapel known as Chapel of Saint Mary of the Oliveri houses a cycle of frescoes of the Scenes from the life of Mary and the Passion of Christ, which is a remarkable example of late 14th-century Tuscan painting in Liguria.
This cycle of paintings has been attributed to two different unknown painters, called the “maestri of the Oliveri Chapel”. The first artist, who devised and began the paintings, was more traditionally inclined, whereas the second, possibly younger and with more modern views, broke away from traditional schemes and appears to have preferred a greater variety of colours.
Starting from the top in the first bay to the left, you can see the Assumption of Mary, with the Virgin dropping her sacred girdle to Saint Thomas among the musical angels; the Virgin Mary transiting amongst the Apostles and Judas caught trying to up-turn the coffin; Then comes the Marriage of the Virgin, with the bride and groom surrounded by Mary’s suitors.
The top lunette of the second bay shows the Coronation of the Virgin amidst musical angles, followed by the Dispute in the Temple, when the parents find their son amidst monumental scenery, the Flight into Egypt, where the wet nurse lowers her palm branch as the Holy Family go by; and finally the Name-giving of John the Baptist, where Mary and Joseph are painted standing by Elisabeth’s bedside and Zacharias is writing the name of the Precursor on a small tablet.
On the far wall is a fresco of the Blessing Redeemer with a flight of angels to his left and the dove of the Holy Ghost to his right. The scenes below, inserted into the spaces to the sides of the blocked out window, tell the story of the Annunciation, the Meeting with Anna and Joachim by the Golden Gate, the Agony in the Garden, of which the only remaining part is Christ’s face and The Saints with a kneeling patron at the bottom.
Inside the only frescoed bay on the right hand side, the archway meant to welcome the mortal remains of the Oliveri Family are the Crucifixion and tondi, or round paintings, of the Evangelists.
There are traces of what may have been a fresco of the Lamentation of Christ, with Saint Thomas presenting the kneeling family of the patron. Other traces seem to indicate the there was also a fresco of the Saintly Women at Christ’s Sepulcher with amazed soldiers looking on. In the lunette, you can see a scene from the Resurrection or Ascension of Christ.
Besides the coats of arms of the Oliveri Family, the vaults are decorated with tondi of Christ in Majesty and the Lamb of God.