Medici Tapestries back in Florence For the First Time in 150 Years!

Carolina Casini 20/01/2016

There is exciting news for art lovers planning on visiting Florence this winter!  We highly recommend that you visit the fascinating Palazzo Vecchio museum located in Florence’s magnificent Town Hall and see an exhibit before it closes in mid-February. For the first time in over one hundred years, the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, a spectacular set of twenty tapestries depicting the stories of the Biblical patriarch Joseph have been reunited and put on display.

These stunning tapestries feature the work of some of the most prominent artists of the Renaissance – including Agnolo Bronzino, Jacopo Pontormo and Francesco Salviati. They were commissioned by Cosimo I de Medici, who many said orchestrated the Renaissance in the mid 1500’s and was a hard man to please. After a few attempts by famous favorites, he was finally satisfied with the drawings of the young Bronzino. The work was then completed by two Flemish artists, Nicolas Karcher and Jon Rost, who wove the tapestries with a complex blend of various silver and gold silk threads. It is said that Cosimo felt the ‘genesis theme’ hit close to home as it depicts difficult family issues, not unlike that of the Medici’s themselves. Together they stretch an impressive eight meters in total.

Incredulously, the last time they were shown together was during Italy’s unification (in the mid 1800’s) I. They have been separated since the 19th century and have been sent to various important cities of art and culture. In 1985, they began an extensive period of restoration (37 years in total) by the Opificio delle Pietre Dure di Firenze, thanks to the sponsorship from two local banks.


At the exhibit, there is an interactive, digital docufilm experience to help showcase the story of the tapestries, essentially a way to immerse yourself in the complexity of the works. Florence is getting ever more creative at keeping its ancient art interesting to a more digitally-in-tuned audience. It should be noted that the exhibit is sponsored by Gucci who has a personal tie to all of the cities where the tapestries were showcased (Florence, Milan and Rome). This is part of an increasing wonderful trend by the Fashion World steeping in to help save Italy’s most important cultural artifacts. Recently Ferragamo, another Florence fashion leader, sponsored the restoration of eight halls in the Uffizi gallery.

Palazzo Vecchio Museum
Entrance fee: 2€
Exhibit+Museum: 12€; reduced ticket 10€; “Cartafreccia” and “Freccia” train tickets with destination Florence up to 5 days before: 2 tickets at the cost of 1.

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