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  • Van Weyenbergh Fine Art

Luca Giordano gallery at Palazzo Medici Riccardi.

While long queues take place in front of the Uffizi or the Accademia, the Palazzo Medici Riccardi remains in Florence a haven of peace, relatively little frequented, despite the two masterpieces of the wall decor it contains. Even the chapel painted by Benozzo Gozzoli can be visited in all tranquility, which is happy considering its small size. As for the gallery made by Luca Giordano, probably one of the most beautiful and best-preserved baroque Italy, a few years ago it was not even included in the paid circuit, which guaranteed it to be completely ignored by tourists.

In 1659, Ferdinando II de Medici sold this palace to Gabriello Riccardi, his majordomo maggiore , probably the highest office in the Florentine court. Francesco Riccardi, a nephew of Gabriello who inherited uncle's fortune when he died in 1675, had the palace modernized, including a gallery that he wanted Ciro Ferri to decorate. The latter, very busy elsewhere, accepted but made wait five years his sponsor, who then decided to turn to Luca Giordano, also a pupil of Pierre de Cortone and whose reputation in Florence had grown to supplant that of Ferri. But he had to wait another three years before Giordano decided to start work. We do not call this one "made rapidly"

in vain: in just four and a half months, from mid-April to the end of August 1685, he painted the entire gallery with the help of three collaborators. It was to celebrate the Medici and their virtues (at the four corners of the gallery), all complemented by many mythological scenes. For an iconography lover, these frescoes are a treat as the number of characters to identify is essential.

Shortly after, the artist also painted a ceiling for the library, of which Count Nicodemus Tessin, who visited it in 1687, says that the execution took only five days.

The National Gallery in London retains nine small paintings by Luca Giordano ( Figures 1 and 2) from the Mahon Collection, reproducing groups from the gallery, which are probably painted ricordo after the completion of the latter rather than preparatory sketches.

Article in La Tribune de l’art.

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