Palazzo Medici Riccardi
The Medici family residence commissioned in 1444 by Cosimo the Elder represents a hallmark of Renaissance civil architecture. The design was entrusted to Michelozzo, the architect whose project won over that proposed by his outstanding peer Filippo Brunelleschi, which Cosimo considered “too bombastic and pretentious”, so much that “it might have aroused the envy of his fellow citizens instead of being an example of beauty and an ornament for the city or, more simply, a comfortable dwelling” (G. Vasari, 1568).
Besides serving as the private residence of the House of Medici, including the celebrated Lorenzo the Magnificent, the palace hosted outstanding political figures, such as Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan, portrayed in the Chapel of the Magi by Benozzo Gozzoli (1459).
In 1494, when the Medici were expelled from Florence, the palace and all the family’s assets, including Donatello’s bronze David and the marble sculptural group Judith and Holofernes, were seized by the Republic of Florence.
The House of Medici regained power in 1512 and the palace on Via Larga was once again the official family residence until 1540, when the young Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici decided to move to Palazzo della Signoria due to its strategic location.
In 1659, the Palace was acquired by Marquis Gabriello Riccardi for forty thousand scudi: its architecture and layout were deemed too grim compared to the flamboyant style in vogue at the time, so it was completely renovated, in particular its interiors, in the wake of Baroque taste.
Renovation work included the construction of the Galleria degli Specchi (Mirror Gallery), whose vaulted ceiling was magnificently frescoed by the major Baroque painter of the time, Luca Giordano (1682-1685).
The financial decline of the family, together with their over-the-top lifestyle and increasing business hardships, led the Riccardi to sell the palace to the State in 1810. The building was then converted into administrative and institutional headquarters. In 1874, the palace was acquired by the Province of Florence (today, Metropolitan City of Florence), which still has its offices here along with the Prefettura (local government agency) and the Istituto Storico della Resistenza in Toscana (Historical Institute of the Tuscan Resistance movement).
History of Palazzo Medici Riccardi
Palazzo Medici Riccardi was built in the mid-15th century and converted to serve several different functions over the centuries. Its history, the masterpieces it shelters, and the essential role it played in the life of the city make it one of the hallmarks of Florence.
Cosimo the Elder commissions Michelozzo with the project for a palace on Via Larga (today, Via Cavour) as the official residence for the House of Medici.
The Medici are expelled from Florence and the palace is seized by the Republican government together with all the family’s other assets.
The Medici regain power and take possession of the palace; a few months later, the son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, Giovanni, is elected Pope.
The palace is sold by Ferdinando II de’ Medici to Marquis Gabriello Riccardi, who undertakes major renovation work.
After being transferred to the State (1810), the palace is sold to the Grand Duchy and is converted into administrative and institutional headquarters.
During the years when Florence is the capital of the Kingdom of Italy (1865-1871), the palace houses the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The building becomes the seat of the Province of Florence and, the following year, it accommodates the Prefettura agency offices; refurbishment work is carried out to restore the original features of the building.
On August 11th, at the dawn of the Liberation of Florence, the Tuscan Committee of National Liberation formally settles its headquarters in the palace.
The palace is turned into a museum.