The Fate of the Manetti Chapel and the Reception of Trecento Art in Britain, 1770s to 1890s
Following the fire in Florence’s church of Santa Maria del Carmine (28 January 1771), the English painter Thomas Patch saved from the ruins of the Manetti chapel some fragments of a fresco which he attributed to Giotto (now ascribed to Spinello Aretino). A dozen fragments of the fresco are still extant. Four of them were bought by Charles Townley from Patch in 1772 and they form the subject of this paper. As well as passing through the hands of some of the most important connoisseurs in England, all four of these fragments were exhibited in various circumstances between 1801 and 1881 as works by Giotto. In tracking their reception history, a case study is provided of changing attitudes to the Trecento, as a taste for the primitives began to be established in England.