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Museum of Still Life in the Villa of Poggio a Caiano

Portraits of Nature: opening to the public in the Villa Medicea of Poggio a Caiano: the Museum of Still Life with 200 paintings from the collections of the Medici.
Now opening to the public in the Medici Villa of Poggio a Caiano, masterpiece of Renaissance architecture, is the Museum of Still Life (Natura Morta), the only museum of its kind in Italy and Europe.
The entire third floor of the villa, which was constructed for Lorenzo the Magnificent as planned by Giuliano da Sangallo, with wall paintings by Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo and Alessandro Allori, hosts in its 900 square meters of space, presented in chronological order, about 200 still life and “living nature” paintings, gathered from the Medici collections.

These examples of extraordinary beauty tell the story of a great collection put together with passion in the course of a century and a half, from the beginning of the 17th century to the middle of the 18th century. The works by Italian, Flemish and Dutch artists, acquired or commissioned, come together to create the most important existing collection of still life painting in Italy and Europe. Artists include Bartolomeo Bimbi (in the picture), Felice Boselli, Jan Brueghel, Margherita Caffi, Giovanna Garzoni, Nicolas van Houbraken, Bartolomeo Ligozzi, Gaspare Lopez, Mario de’ Fiori, Otto Marseus, Cristoforo Munari, Pietro Navarra, Filippo Napoletano, Giuseppe Recco, Andrea Scacciati, Franz Werner Tamm, and many others.

Most of the 200 paintings on display in the museum will be seen by the public for the first time because until now they have been held in storage by the Polo Museale Fiorentino – above all in the Uffizi and at Palazzo Pitti – where they came to rest after historical events, or in the offices of public buildings throughout Italy.
The choice of the Villa Medicea of Poggio a Caiano as home to the museum is not by chance: the Medici intended their collections of still life to be located in their great country residences, each of which was home to a different “subject”.
At Poggio a Caiano the “great prince” Ferdinando de’ Medici had brought together a large part of his collections; at the Villa Ambrogiana, Cosimo III kept the paintings depicting living animals, especially birds, true and distinctive “portraits”, that “form a theater of nature’s marvels”; Careggi was home to the collection of the “teratologica”, or works depicting exceptional animal or vegetable rarities due to size, exotic origin or certain physical anomalies that made for the monstrous or unique; at Castello the paintings of flowers; and at Casino della Topaia again Cosimo III gave life to the exceptional comparison between Nature and Art, growing on the surrounding lands “all the types of fruit, citrus, grapes and flowers that up until now have been found” and collecting for the interior of the villa the large canvases of Bimbi that presented them. This monumental pictorial cycle, masterpiece of Italian botanical still life, has been housed in the villa of Poggio a Caiano since 1990 and now becomes one of the centerpieces of the new museum’s collection.

In the 16 rooms of the museum there will also be on display works belonging to the various members of the dynasty of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany who in the course of four generations put together this extraordinary and unique collection. The major players of this great adventure were: Cosimo II de’ Medici (1590-1621) with his wife Maria Maddalena of Austria and his brothers Don Lorenzo and cardinal Carlo; his succesor, the Grand Duke Ferdinando II (1610-1670), his wife Vittoria della Rovere, and his brothers, cardinals Leopoldo and Giovan Carlo; and finally, at the time of the maximum expression of still life, the Grand Duke Cosimo III (1642-1723), his brother cardinal Francesco Maria and his children, the “great prince” Ferdinando and Anna Maria Luisa (1667-1743), the last of the dynasty.

Villa Medicea di Poggio a Caiano Piazza de’ Medici Poggio a Caiano (PO)
For more information:
Tourist Office of the City of Poggio a Caiano tel. 055 - 8798779
Office of Culture of the City of Poggio a Caiano tel. 055 – 8701280
Tickets: Museum admission is free

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