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The Grand Prince

Ferdinando De' Medici (1663 - 1713) Collector And Patron Of The Arts

06-26-2013 | 11-03-2013 - extended until 01-06-2014

To mark the 300th anniversary of the death of Grand Prince Ferdinando de' Medici (1663-1713), the Galleria degli Uffizi is planning to devote a celebratory exhibition to this key figure who was one of the most important collectors and patrons of the arts in the entire history of the Medici Grand Dukes of Tuscany.

The son of Cosimo III and of Marguerite-Louise d'Orléans, Ferdinando nurtured two overriding interests, in the theatre and music and in the figurative arts, from a very early age.

The exhibition sets out to convey the complexity of his interests and the innovative nature of his approach which drew the leading artists of the era (musicians, instrumentalists, painters and sculptors) to Florence between the end of the 17th century and the first decade of the 18th.

The exhibition is broken down into sections illustrating the complex issues surrounding the prince's cultural inclinations, while also presenting the buildings in which his patronage was played out.

An introductory iconographic section displays likenesses of the prince and of his family, with works by Giovan Battista Foggini, Justus Suttermans and Anton Domenico Gabbiani.

This is followed by a second section illustrating the early years of Ferdinando's art collecting and patronage which focused in particular on his beloved villa at Pratolino where, alongside musicians, singers, costumiers and composers, he also hosted the Bibbiena family from Bologna, masters in the art of stage design.  At the same time, the residence was being transformed in its interior decor and embellished with the work of Ferdinando's favourite painters at the time, including Livio Mehus, Pier Dandini and Domenico Tempesti, all of whom were Tuscans, but also such "foreigners" as Crescenzio Onofri from Rome or Cristoforo Munari from northern Italy, all of them engaged in producing works closely linked to the villa and to the performances and other leisure activities that were held in it.

The third section is devoted to the renovation of Palazzo Pitti, of the Pergola Theatre and of the cathedral of Florence on the occasion of Ferdinando's wedding to Princess Violante Beatrix of Bavaria in 1689.  The ducal palace underwent radical transformation in its piano nobile, in the bridal couple's apartments and in the mezzanines above, which were renovated in a spectacularly imaginative way, evinced in the exhibition by the memoirs and preparatory drawings of the artists who executed in the work (Luca Giordano, Diacinto Maria Marmi, Alessandro Gherardini, Giovan Battista Foggini and Anton Domenico Gabbiani).  At the same time, the section also explores the ceremonies and festivities held in Florence to mark the prince's wedding, using drawings and documents for the purpose.

The fourth section illustrates the prince's growing interest in the figurative arts, both in contemporary sculpture and in painting, with the leading artists active at the time, many of whom were experts in such "modern" late 17th century genres of as still-life and portraiture.  Thus this part of the exhibition contains both religious and secular works (by Carlo Dolci, Carlo Loth, Baldassarre Franceschini and Il Volterrano) and examples of "painted nature" (by Jacopo Ligozzi, Bartolomeo Bimbi, Margherita Caffi, Fardella, Houbracken and Michelangelo Pace da Campidoglio).  Of equal interest in the section is the presence of sumptuary objects, pieces of furniture and everyday items testifying to Ferdinando's sophisticated tastes, with works by the leading engravers, marquetry inlayers and silversmiths then active at court.

The highly significant fifth section explores the tastes of the Grand Prince as collector, with some of the 16th to 18th century paintings removed from churches in Tuscany and elsewhere, including Andrea del Sarto's Madonna of the Harpies, Lanfranco's Ectasy of St. Margaret of Cortona, Annibale Carracci's Farnese Altarpiece, and lastly, the Madonna of the Long Neck by Parmigianino, one of Fernando's most prestigious acquisitions in the field of Renaissance art as the 17th century drew to a close.

The sixth section is devoted to the grand prince's favourite villa of all, Poggio a Caiano, whose decoration he renovated with the greatest magnificence.  He chose a room on its piano nobile to house one of his most original collections comprising "works in miniature", which is eloquently recreated in the exhibition through a selection paintings that once formed part of it, illustrating the prince's catholic tastes in collecting.

The seventh section of the exhibition illustrates the prince's taste for major Florentine statuary at the close of the 17th century, while in the sphere of painting it looks at the change in Ferdinando's taste in favour of "foreign" schools - far more modern than anything local artists could produce - such as the Venetian school (of which he was enamoured in his youth), the Bolognese school and the Ligurian school (with work by Crespi, Cassana, Fumiani, Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, Magnasco and Peruzzini) whose leading painters were summoned to Florence, where they produced some of their masterpieces specifically for the prince.

The final section is devoted to the last years of Ferdinando's life, exploring the results and repercussions of his art patronage and collecting, and displaying the drawings for a celebratory monument that it was planned to erect in his memory, the sketches for that project, and material relating to his funeral.


Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali
Direzione Regionale per i Beni Culturali e Paesaggistici della Toscana
Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico e per il Polo
Museale della città di Firenze
Galleria degli Uffizi
Firenze Musei

Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze


Riccardo Spinelli

Curated by

Riccardo Spinelli

Exhibition Management

Antonio Natali


Giunti Editore


Barbara Vaggelli, Francesca Montanaro,
Patrizia Tarchi, Rita Toma

Ticket prices

Full Price: € 11,00
Reduced: € 5,50