Museo Stibbert [Stibbert Museum]
In the 1860s the Anglo-Florentine Frederick Stibbert began to carry out radical reconstruction of the villa on the hill of Montughi bought by his mother, which had formerly belonged to the Davanzati family. The restoration work went on for several years and the project was commissioned of various artists, outstanding among whom was the architect Giuseppe Poggi. Parallel to the rebuilding of the original house, which also encapsulated the outlying buildings, the garden was entirely transformed, to become a typical English landscape garden.
Stibbert, a man of refined culture, an ardent collector and international financier, put together in almost fifty years of tireless searching a fascinating collection of armour and the applied arts. At his death, the villa, the garden and the rich collections were bequeathed to the Commune of Florence, which opened a public museum there in 1908.
A rare example of nineteenth-century house-museum, the original arrangement featured a picture gallery, a collection of ceramics and porcelain, European, Islamic and Japanese antique armour, costumes, furniture, tapestries, bronze statuettes and medals. It thus documented the evolution in technology and the experimentation conducted in the applied arts, as well as the technological development of the military art in different geographical areas. Each setting strikingly evokes the atmosphere of the past and the places of provenance of the objects exhibited. Particularly spectacular is the Hall of the Cavalcade, in which twelve life-size mannequins of European and Islamic knights on horseback, wearing armour from the period 1510-1630, stand in imposing array.
Texts by Graziano Magrini
English translation by Catherine Frost
Last update 15/apr/2008