As part of the initiatives that the Soprintendenza per il Patrimonio Storico Artistico ed Etnoantropologico e per il Polo Museale della città di Firenze has planned for Un Anno ad Arte 2014, the Galleria Palatina in collaboration with the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi dedicates a monographic show to painter Jacopo Ligozzi. Born in Verona in 1547 into a family of Milanese embroiderers and son of painter Giovanni Ermanno, Ligozzi’s early activity unfolded on Veronese soil. He soon moved to Florence where, in 1577, his presence is documented at the court of grand duke Francesco I, where he set up a successful bottega and lived stably until his death in 1627. This painter’s long and complex artistic fortunes have been investigated by the important studies of Mina Bacci (Jacopo Ligozzi and his position in Florentine Painting, in Proporzioni, IV, 1963, pp. 46-84), and more recently by the contributions Alessandro Cecchi dedicated to specific sectors of his activity (For Jacopo Ligozzi, designer of celebrative apparatus and theatre costumes, in ‘Verona Illustrata’, 1997, pp. 5-14), by Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi (Portraits of Plants by Jacopo Ligozzi, Ospedaletto 1993), and by Lucilla Conigliello (Notes on Jacopo Ligozzi and his Paintings of 1594, in Paragone, XLI, 1990, 485, pp. 21-42) who also curated an exhibition dedicated to his production in Arezzo (Jacopo Ligozzi: the Views of the Holy Mountain of La Verna. The Paintings of Poppi and Bibbiena, curated by L. Conigliello, Poppi 1992), and a show centred on the drawings held in the Cabinet des Dessins collection in the Louvre (2005). The results of the studies conducted to date, combined with a substantial series of documents that make it possible to reconstruct Ligozzi’s life ad annum and, moreover, the presence of the largest group of his works in the collections of Palazzo Pitti and the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi, explain the necessity for this exhibition. The show will attempt, for the first time, to illustrate systematically the span of the painter’s activity, highlighting the various ambits he worked in and his multifaceted and versatile physiognomy on the Florentine panorama. For this reason, we find it appropriate to divide the exhibition into thematic sections, starting from his early years at the Medici court. From his very arrival there, Jacopo was highly appreciated as a draughtsman of the natural history exhibits known as naturalia, for his refined production of drawings painted with watercolours or highlighted in gold (which the show will illustrate with a selection of sheets from the collection of the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi). Another section will be devoted to his portraits (in particular, the fine portrait of a woman today in the Uffizi, and the splendid Portrait of Maria Gonzaga from the Museo Nacional of Lisbon). He was also a talented creator of decorative apparatus (as in the case of the paintings, today lost, that decorated the wainscoting and windows in the Tribuna of the Uffizi that Francesco I commissioned in 1584, as well as those, also lost, in the Cave of Thetis at the Medici Villa at Pratolino). Ligozzi was also a painter of history, as in the large paintings on slate in the ceiling of the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, and again for the decorative apparatus created on the occasion of the wedding of Ferdinando I and Cristina of Lorraine (documented by the preparatory study today held at the British Museum in London). Alongside these undertakings, Ligozzi also distinguished himself as a talented and sensitive designer of clothing, embroideries for fabrics, as well as of creations in semiprecious stones. The show will exhibit several of his drawings for embroidery as well as the marble inlay surfaces made on his designs by the Medici Opificio, and respectively held in the Galleria Palatina, the Museo degli Argenti and the Museo dell’Opificio delle Pietre Dure.
The exhibition will also devote special attention to the theme of the ‘moral allegories’ and, in particular, to the ‘Vanitas’ series, which Ligozzi tackled on many occasions and which constitute one of the points of greatest interest, also for a better understanding of his production. Quite significant in this sense is the presence of works like the Allegory of Redemption, today at Locko Park, the Allegory of Love defending Virtue against Ignorance and Prejudice, probably commissioned by Francesco I (Baroni Collection, London), and Greed (New York, Metropolitan Museum). The second part of the show will focus on the religious production the painter devoted himself to from his years of service at the Medici court, and which intensified in the 1590s after he fell out of favour. The large altarpieces he created for the churches of Santissima Annunziata, Santa Maria Novella, Ognissanti and Santa Croce in Florence, as well as for churches on the territory of Arezzo, in Lucca and in San Gimignano, testify that he authentically shared the aspirations of devout and reformed painting that Florentine painting assumed between the late XVI and early XVII centuries. This aspect will be documented in the exhibition with his Saint Jerome supported by the Angel from the church of San Giovannino degli Scolopi, the Martyrdom of Saint Dorothy from Pescia, and the Adoration of the Cross, whose recent discovery in the church of Sant’Andrea