SANTA MARIA DEGLI ANGELI
Not far from the ancient walls of the town of Montalcino, along the road that once led to Siena, we find the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, close to a village called Canalicchio. The private chapel of local landowners it is open to the public during the month of May of every year, traditionally devoted to the Virgin Mary.
This delightful little gem a fine example of Tuscan art was already extant in the early 1600s, as testified by an ecclesiastical document of 1618, where it is referred to as “nuper aedificata”.
The Latin definition probably alluded to the restoration of a previous building, as may be inferred from numerous elements that belong to earlier dates. For example, above the baroque altarpiece, we find a fresco depicting a Madonna with Child, where Baby Jesus plays with a bird. The fresco in question resembles other church paintings in the area, and has been attributed to master Bartolo di Fredi from Siena, who lived in the late 1300s.
According to Francesco Brogi, who compiled a general inventory of objets d’art in the Province of Siena in 1862-65 (published in 1897), this fresco may even be an important fragment from a larger work, which was transferred from another location and placed above the altarpiece of Santa Maria degli Angeli “because of its devotional value”. A popular engraving of the early 1800s, which reproduces the same Madonna with Child as “Maria Santissima degli Angeli”, appears to confirm this. New studies point to the fresco’s possible provenance from the Church of the Madonna delle Grazie, a short distance from the Chapel of Santa Maria degli Angeli along the same, ancient route to Siena. This hypothesis is borne out by the recent discovery of another fresco in Madonna delle Grazie.