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Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine of Siena with the Prophet David, St. Dominic

In the section on The Great Altarpieces we find the panel painting with the Mystical Marriage, which was donated by Naldini in 1568 to the monastery of Santa Caterina da Siena on the occasion of his sister Annalena’s vestition, as attested to by some documents . The work was however probably completed after the painter’s death by his collaborator Giovanni Balducci whose chaster, stricter style characterises the whole painting with very few exceptions (as in the figure of David).


It is difficult to identify the hand of Giovan Battista Naldini in this altarpiece. In those years the still young and promising painter was part of Giorgio Vasari’s team working on the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, and his first works show a completely different quality and imagery. Probably the altarpiece was only drafted by the artist and completed or almost wholly revised by his pupil and collaborator Giovanni Balducci, probably after the master’s death, as would appear from the inscription on the painting. The figure most closely recalling Naldini’s style, and the best one in the painting, is the prophet David. The painting is characterised by a balanced, severe composition of the scene, which opens onto the central group; a devotional tone; and simplified forms. This seems to confirm a dating to around 1591, also suggested by comparison of the work with the frescoes by Balducci in the Pretoni oratory in Florence (1588-90), painted for Cardinal Alessandro de’ Medici, the future Pope Leo XI and  provost of the Pieve di Prato.

On the second floor in the room on 16th to 17th-century Painters there are also the The Passion of Christ and the precious altar with the Holy Family.