During the summer of 1348, more than half of the inhabitants of Florence and Siena died of the bubonic plague. For those who survived this catastrophe, it must have been seen as the culmination of God’s displeasure since several years before crops had failed, bankruptcies had risen, and heavy hailstorms rained down on the region. Inevitably, the plague affected the visual arts within Florence, which Millard Meiss tackled in his ground-breaking study. According to him, the disaster accounted for profound changes in style and iconography. Later scholars like Cole have questioned whether the stylistic changes in the 1450s, and beyond were the result of the Black Death. For him, the phenomenon the “Black Death style” can only be associated with specific buildings like Santa Maria Novella, and there the changes might be accounted for by the taste of the Dominicans who patronised artists working there like Orcagna and Andrea di Firenze.
|Andrea di Firenze, Way of Salvation, 1365-68, Fresco, width 11,6 m, Cappella Spagnuolo, Santa Maria Novella, Florence|
Andrea di Firenze, Crucifixion, 1365-68, Fresco, width 11,6 m, Cappella Spagnuolo, Santa Maria Novella, Florence