Stefano Bardini came to Firenze to study, where he attended the Accademia
delle Belle Arti and thought of being a painter. But his real talent was
seeking out antique pieces and so, following his instinct, he soon came
to be the most authoritative - and rich - antique dealer in the city.
In Piazza de' Mozzi he had a kind of palace built over an ancient convent
with the aim of creating a sumptuous antiques gallery, and he collected
innumerable treasures which he left to the city of Firenze on his death
in 1922. His many merits included setting up the first real school of
restoration in Firenze and establishing a photographic collection.
Besides his formidable artistic 'nose', Bardini's fortune lay in the fact
that he lived in a very particular historical period. When the historic
Tuscan families with extensive land holdings were overtaken by the events
of the Industrial Revolution, they had to rid themselves (often at a derisory
price) of their properties and the furnishings of their buildings, which
at the time were not considered to have great artistic or commercial value.
The pulling down of the Mercato Vecchio was also providential for Bardini,
and he was able to obtain many pieces of particular interest.
The Museo Bardini is an extraordinary collection with works from nearly
all the schools from the early Middle Ages to the Baroque, and including
a range of different objects: sculpture, paintings, tapestries, ancient
wooden chests, ceramics, rugs, arms, musical instruments, etc. They are
displayed in an almost 'lived-in' way so as to make a visit to this enchanting
museum even more pleasurable.
Picture by Kee-Ho Casati
Translated by Jeremy Carden