Set in the Museo degli Argenti, now also called the Medici Treasury to reflect the scope of its collections much more correctly, this exhibition brought together works of art from throughout the Florentine museums to show the taste and range of collecting interests of Leopold de’ Medici (1617-1675), younger son of Cosimo II and Maria Maddalena d’Austria. Although often mentioned in the literature on seventeenth-century collections, the extent of his collecting was never really analysed and this catalogue is a revelation of the many works exhibited in the Florentine museums originally collected by him. For this reason alone, the catalogue would be worth buying but as it also includes many essays that place his collecting in context as well as new research on the individual works of art, it is an important addition to our knowledge of seventeenth-century studies. Miriam Fileti Mazza’s essay on the development of Leopoldo’s collection shows the prince’s numerous advisors and agents. The Florentine Paolo Del Sera, who acted as an agent in Venice, Marco Boschini, Venetian agent and art critic, Ferdinando Cospi, who introduced the prince to young Bolognese artists as well as the collecting of scientific and natural specimens, Leonardo Agostino in Rome, who advised on the collecting of antiquities, Pietro Andrea Andreini, who introduced the prince to the collecting of antique gems, intaglie and inscriptions and in the Netherlands, Monsignor Airoldi in Flanders and Pieter Bleau in Amsterdam. The correspondence between these figures kept in the archives provides historians of the art market with detailed accounts of the complex networks and negotiations involved in the world of collecting. In the person of Baldinucci, the collection had its cataloguer and critic. A small handbook, Nota dei quadri lasciata a diversi personaggi all sua morte del cardinal Leopoldo, lists the gifts to the many visitors and correspondents. In further essays, these connections are developed through examining different aspects of his collection, paintings, drawings, antiquities and the commissions in pietra dura. The catalogue entries develop these themes, tracing the provenance and attribution of the many objects now known to have belonged to the prince as well as their location and display.
Leopoldo de ’Medici Principe del Collezionisti. Exhibition catalogue edited by Valentina Conticelli, Riccardo Gennaioli and Maria Sframeli, Florence, 7 November- 28 January, 45€