Stefano Bardini Museum

FLORENCE

Stefano Bardini was born in Pieve Santo Stefano (Arezzo) in 1836. At a very young age, he moved to Florence in order to study painting at the Accademia delle Belle Arti, where he had his first decisive encounter with ancient art. He then abandoned the Accademia in order to haunt the circles of the innovative Macchiaioli movement and, like many of them, he participated in the struggle for the unification of Italy.

After enlisting in Garibaldi’s army, in 1866 he fought valiantly in Bazzecca. The year 1866 also marked the beginning of his new activity as a restorer of paintings and a vendor of art works. At that time, Florence was the seat of a very lively antiques market that ranged from 14th century paintings with a gold background to terracottas from the 1400’s, and more modest household objects.

In the decade immediately following his participation in the Garibaldi campaigns, Stefano Bardini became a highly refined connoisseur of ancient art and a highly skilled manager in the field of restoration and of antiquarian business. He had such relevant business relations both in Italy and abroad, with the principal museums and collectors, that, beginning in 1874, he exported works by Fra’ Angelico, Pollaiolo and Titian.

Regular visitors at his numerous residences and warehouses were archeologists such as De Fabriczy, Robert, Studniczka, art historians such as Berenson, Loeser, Mason Perkins, Beckerarth and W. Von Bode, who founded the Kaiser Friedrich Museum, [now the Bode Museum], in Berlin, with the collaboration, works and advice of Bardini himself. Among the collectors with whom Bardini was in contact in the United States were Johnson, Morgan, Frick, Isabella Gardner Stuart, Lheiman, whose collections have been gathered in museums or have become museums themselves.

The European collectors worth mentioning were Mme. André, whose collection today makes up the Jacquemart André Museum, Prince John of Liechtenstein, Figdor of Vienna, the Nycarlsberg brewers of Copenhagen, whose collection has become a museum today. Even public museums purchased works from Stefano Bardini; e.g, the Museum of the Opera del Duomo in Florence bought two sculptures by Arnolfo of Boniface VIII and the Virgin of the Nativity, while the Bargello bought a Madonna by Michelozzo and a Sanctified Bishop in wood from the 14th century.

In 1881, Stefano Bardini, by now a famous and esteemed owner of a fabulous collection, decided to create his own personal museum. He purchased the 13th century church and convent of San Gregorio della Pace and transformed them into a palace of neoclassic taste, according to the fashion of his times, with the clear intent of converting the building into a proper museum, by also using salvage pieces and finds from monuments. The great window jambs on the first floor were made by remounting the altars taken from a Pistoia church, and the ceilings and the architraves of the doors were the result of Bardini’s untiring activity as a collector of historical and artistic relics.

In the palace’s rooms, furnished by Bardini as exposition galleries, were gathered sculptures, paintings, furniture, ceramics, tapestries, arms and musical instruments. In addition, the building, having been conceived not only as a private museum but also as the premises for a prestigious agency, housed a series of rooms used for functions complementary to his antiquarian business: restoration workshops, warehouses and storage areas for materials, and, last but not least, a photographic laboratory that Bardini himself used, with good results and, thanks to which, we have been left a valuable archive of images.

In the last years of his life, he decided to leave his art gallery to his adopted city, ‘out of the affection’ that tied him to Florence ‘and to show the adoration’ that he had ‘always cultivated for its artistic history’, as he wrote in his will two days before dying in September 1922. Since 1939, the collection of paintings that previously belonged to Arnaldo Corsi has been housed on the top floor of the Bardini Palace, where 611 paintings distributed in 12 rooms, along with a very limited number of furnishings, a heterogeneous collection of eighteenth century paintings from different schools and provenance and from the most diverse periods were exhibited.

A collection of great value, whose importance is increased because it testifies to the taste and passion for collecting at the turn of the 20th century.

Short Bibliography

Museo Stefano Bardini. Guida alla visita del Museo.
A cura di Antonella Nesi. Firenze, Polistampa 2011

Antonello agli Uffizi: un acquisto dello Stato per il riscatto dell’eredità Bardini
Acidini C., Paolucci A., Firenze, Editore: Giunti, 2002

Riflessi di una galleria: dipinti dell’eredità Bardini: Galleria di Palazzo Mozzi-Bardini
Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali, Soprintendenza per i beni artistici e storici per le provincie di Firenze, Pistoia e Prato, Livorno, Editore: non disponibile, 2001

L’archivio storico fotografico di Stefano Bardini
Scalia F. (a cura di), Firenze, Editore: Bruschi, 2000

Geometri d’Oriente: Stefano Bardini e il tappeto antico
Boralevi A. (a cura di), Livorno, Editore: Sillabe, 1999

Statuaria lapidea: dagli etruschi al barocco: Galleria di Palazzo Mozzi-Bardini
AA.VV., Livorno, Editore: Sillabe, 1999

Medaglie placchette del Museo Bardini di Firenze
Vannel F. (a cura di), Firenze, Editore: Polistampa 1998

I tesori di un antiquario: Galleria di Palazzo Mozzi – Bardini
Acidini C. (a cura di), Livorno, Editore: Sillabe, 1998

Museo Bardini, Le sculture medievali e rinascimentali
Neri Lusanna E. (a cura di), Firenze, Editore: CentroDi, 1989

Museo Bardini: Le armi
Boccia L. G. (a cura di), Firenze, Editore: CentroDi, 1985

L’eredità Bardini: atti del convegno, Firenze 22 ottobre 1983
AA.VV., Firenze, Editore: Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, 1984

Il Museo Bardini a Firenze
Scalia F., De Benedictis C. (a cura di), Milano, Editore: Electa, 1984

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Burgonet

Date: ca. 1530-1540
Artist: Caremolo Modrone

A sallet that covered the head, also called a burgonet. It is decorated with the symbol of an eagle, and probably belonged to a member of the Gonzaga family.

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Deposition from the Cross

Date: mid-16th century
Technique and Materials: stucco relief, coloured stucco
Production: Florentine production
Size: 34 cm. x 23 cm.
Artist: by Michelangelo Buonarroti

The Buonarroti House’s version is the best known example, and is connected with a drawing attributed to Michelangelo by Tolnay.

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Madonna and Child

Date: third decade of the 15th century
Technique and Materials: polychrome and gilded plaster
Workshop of: Lorenzo Ghiberti
Size: height 64 cm.

This example recalls a prototype that was frequently reproduced in the 15th century for private clients or religious companies. This version, with garland-holder angels and shields, can also be found in the Empoli cathedral and in Florence’s San Felice in Piazza.

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Charity

Date: first-second decade of the 14th century
Technique and Materials: marble
Size: height 136 cm., width 71 cm., depth 45 cm.
Artist: Tino di Camaino (Siena 1280 ca.-Naples 1337)

Adorned with braided hair and dominated by a flat crown, Charity is represented here in a rare iconography that is derived from the fusion of the two most common versions of this symbology: the Caritas Misericordia and the Caritas Amor Dei.

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Saint Michael the Archangel Fighting the Dragon

Date: ca. 1460-70
Technique and Materials: tempera on canvas, frame not pertinent
Size: 175 cm. x 116 cm.
Artist: Antonio Pollaiolo (Florence 1432-1498)

The critical history of this painting, a masterpiece of the Tuscan Renaissance and one of the most important acquisitions in the Bardini collection, is articulated around three questions: its attribution, autography, and identification with a work described by Vasari.

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Cutlass

Date: ca. 1620

It belonged to Francesco dell’Antella.

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The so-called Hitler carpet

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Targe

Date: 16th century
Provenance: Hungary

The targe is decorated with the image of an eagle; its brown feathers and large talons are well-defined.

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Hercules at the Crossroads

Date: ca. 1520
Technique and Materials: tempera on a wooden panel, the frame is not pertinent
Size: 60 cm. x 155 cm.
Artist: Domenico Beccafumi (Valdibibiena 1486-Siena 1551)

It is the central panel of a chest very similar to another chest front housed in the Horne Museum, which depicts the “Story of Deucalion and Pyrrha”.

Address

Stefano Bardini Museum
Via dei Renai, 37 (Ponte alle Grazie)
Florence
Phone 055 2342427
go to the site

How to get there
By car: once in Florence, follow the signs for the Viali di Circonvallazione (boulevards), then for the San Niccolò district. Park in Lungarno Torrigiani.

Opening hours

Open on Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. The ticket office closes 30 minutes before the museum’s closing time

Closed from Tuesday to Thursday and on New Year’s Day, Easter day, 1 May, 15 August, and 25 December.
The museum is accessible from Via dei Renai, 37. Visitors with mobility problems should enter from Piazza de’ Mozzi, 1.

The museum is barrier-free except for the Hall of Arms.

Tickets

Full ticket: € 6.00

Reduced ticket*: € 4.50
*(18-25 years, university students)

Free ticket:
up to the age of 18; groups of students with their teachers; tourist guides and interpreters; the differently-abled with their escorts; ICOM, ICOMOS and ICCROM members
School groups: it is compulsory to hand in the list of names on the school’s letterhead.