Thursday, 2 March 2017

A hidden pearl of Niccolini patronage – By Lara Fernández Piqueras

In the Via dei Servi, leading from Brunelleschi’s Duomo to the more modest but equally impressive Piazza Santissima Annunziata, appears the monumental edifice that once belonged to the prosperous Niccolini family. Palazzo Niccolini housed the sumptuous art collection of one of the family’s foremost art patrons: Giovanni Niccolini (1544-1611). He was the son of Agnolo Niccolini (1502-1567), a successful ambassador of Cosimo I de’ Medici. In the last years of his life, Agnolo even reached the status of cardinal. Giovanni followed in his father’s footsteps as loyal servant of the Medici court. In 1570, Niccolini became part of grand duke Cosimo’s entourage when the latter received the Grand Ducal crown and from 1578 until 1610, Giovanni resided in Rome as Florentine ambassador to the Papal court. His Roman sojourn influenced Niccolini’s art patronage, since he acquired many antiquities to adorn his Florentine palace. Over time, this splendorous collection became dispersed and it is now lost without any trace. Fortunately, the Cappella Niccolini remains intact and gives an idea of Niccolini’s rich art patronage. Giovanantonio Dosio (1533-1610) designed the family chapel in the Franciscan church of Santa Croce and decorated the walls with many coloured marble slabs of archaeological provenance, acquired on the Roman art market.