Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico e per il Polo Museale della città di Firenze

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Mattia Corvino e Firenze

Art and humanism at the court of the king of Hungary

10-10-2013 | 01-06-2014

The Budapest History Museum held a major exhibition in Budapest in 2008 to mark the 550th anniversary of the start of Matthias Corvinus' reign in Hungary.  The exhibition, along with other exhibitions in other museums in the city, opened up new and stimulating prospects for the study both of the relations that were established between Hungary and Italy from the 14th century on, and of the spread of Humanism in Hungarian territory.

This, in turn, triggered the idea of organising an exhibition in Florence in 2013, marking Hungarian culture year in Italy, to develop the theme of the priority relationship that King Matthias Corvinus established with Florence and its artists, its illuminators and indeed with the entire cultural circle of Lorenzo the Magnificent.  The idea spawned a project jointly developed by Hungarian and Florentine scholars of the calibre of Péter Farbaky, an art historian and the deputy director of the Budapest History Museum, Dániel Pócs, an art historian with the Academy of Science's Art History Institute, Eniko Spekner, a historian, and András Végh,an archaeologist, both with the Budapest History Museum, and of Magnolia Scudieri and Lia Brunori, the director and deputy director respectively of the Museo di San Marco, chosen as the venue for the exhibition.

San Marco was selected on the strength of the role played in the development of Humanism by the Dominican convent's library, the breathtaking setting for this exhibition.  Built by order of Cosimo de' Medici the Elder in 1444 and expanded with a splendid collection of texts formerly owned by celebrated Humanist Niccolò Niccoli, it was the first "public" library of the Renaissance.  It was here that such figures as Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola and others would meet at the time of Lorenzo the Magnificent.

The exhibition sets out to reconstruct some of the contacts that played a crucial role in determining the Hungarian court's cultural and artistic choices.  Thus it will illustrate the trends in the king's taste, setting them against the backdrop of the Florentine context of his time, while also endeavouring, by drawing a number of parallels, to identify the possible influence on those choices exercised by Lorenzo the Magnificent and his entourage of thinkers and artists.  In this context, special attention will be devoted to the libraries of Matthias Corvinus and of Lorenzo the Magnificent, and thus pride of place will be given to the precious illuminated codices commissioned by Matthias Corvinus for his library, now sadly dispersed.  Some of these manuscripts, which remained unfinished in Florence on Matthias' death, were subsequently purchased by the Medici.

Using works of art from a broad range of disciplines - painting, sculpture, ceramics and illuminated codices from various museums both in Europe and the United States - the exhibition sets out to illustrate Hungarian Humanism's roots in Italy and the crucial role played by the dissemination of the Florentine Renaissance style in the country's artistic development, a cultural legacy which has continued to underpin Hungarian culture up to the present day.

Some of the most outstanding loans include Matthias Corvinus' throne tapestry from the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest produced to a design by Antonio del Pollaiolo, a marble relief with the Portrait of Alexander the Great from the National Gallery in Washington attributed to Andrea del Verrocchio, Matthias Corvinus' Bible from the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana illuminated by Monte and Gherardo di Giovanni, the Portraits of Matthias Corvinus and Beatrice of Aragon attributed to Giovanni Dalmata (Ivan Duknović) from the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest and Marliano's Epithalamium from the Biblioteca Guarnacci in Volterra, with a portrait of Matthias by an illuminator from the circle of Leonardo da Vinci.


Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo 
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
Museo di San Marco
Firenze Musei

Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze


Cristina Acidini

Curated by

Magnolia Scudieri, Lia Brunori, Péter Farbaky, Dániel Pócs


Giunti Editore


Silvia Carrara, Natale Cerbara

Ticket prices

Full Price: € 7,00
Reduced: € 3,50