Museo delle Sinopie, Pisa
This museum, across the street from the Baptistry, houses the under paintings that are the first part of the frescos, many of which exist unrestored showing the skill of great artists of several centuries.
Located opposite the Cathedral on Piazza dei Miracoli, this small museum exhibits le sinopie, the sketches made before the frescoes were painted in the galleries of il Camposanto Monumentale. Fire from Allied bombings in 1944 damaged much of the Camposanto and its frescoes, but exposed these sinopie that were meant to be hidden forever. The sketches were transferred to their current location and turned into Museo delle Sinopie for viewing. The building that houses the museum was built in 1257 as lo Spedale Nuovo di Santo Spirito, a charitable house for pilgrims, orphans and the poor.
This museum, which is housed in a what used to be a hospital in the Middle Ages, serves as a display center for the initial sketches of frescoes that now adorn the Camposanto, that elegant cemetery across the lush green lawn of Piazza dei Miracoli. These "sinopie" or sketches, present an interesting prelude to what lies ahead in Camposanto. This makes it quite logical as to why the main ticket office for the Piazza dei Miracoli attractions is located in this building.
This museum housed in a former hospital, boasts long corridors lined with relief drawings. These frescos are the most valuable and well preserved from the Monumental Cemetary. There are so many here and they are all so similar you may be bored with them before your half way around.
The most valuable frescoes from Camposanto are conservated and preserved in the Museum of Sinopias. A particular technique, called "a strappo" (by pulls) have been used to restore them, the sketches and designs the srtists used to make before colouring, which was carried on by their pupils, have come to light. These designs, which were realized by using a brush with a reddish earth called "sinopia", reveal the hand of the master and a surprising vividness. It is very interesting to compare the finished fresco with its sinopia.
At the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) there are several museums.
One of these museums is the Museo delle Sinopie.
November - February : 9.00 - 16.30
March & October : 9.00 - 17.30
April - September : 8.00 - 19.30
You can see the entrance of the museum at the picture on the right side with the purple banner with the yellow triangle.
First this building was used as a hospital.
In this museum you can see the Sinoptites, this are preparatory drawings used to make large frescoes (in the Campo Santo - cemetery).
The museum is housed in a wing of the old hospital. The museum contains the sinopias from the monumental cemetery.
Sinopias are the preparatory drawings for frescoes done directly on the wall. One of the explanations for the development of this technique is the lack of large quantities of paper or other similar materials during the XIV century. The drawings were done in small size, directly onto the next to the last coat of plaster. The artists used a brush dipped into a red-earth pigment from Sinope, a city in Asia, hence the name "sinopia". These drawings were then covered with a layer of rough and fine sand onto which the sinopias were permanently hidden.
On my picture you may see some of the giant frescos, shown in the Camposanto.
During WW II, when the museum decided to take away the frescos and take them to a safe place, they also found the original sketches of these fresos behind them.
After the war they made a seperate museum, opposite the Duomo, where these Sinopie are shown today.
These sketches are important for such large frescos, as the painter has just a very short time for the painting , as long as the fresh (fresco) wall is not dry yet.
I like the Museum of Sinopias best. The paintings were painted with Sinopia and then covered with other materials. This had enhanced the colours.