Grand Duke Ferdinando I (1549 – 1609), among the eminent figures of the Medici dynasty, is commemorated in the fourth centennial of his death with an exhibition jointly promoted by the Polo Museale Fiorentino and the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, which he founded. The exhibition is named after Ferdinando I’s personal motto (Maiestate tantum), and focuses on two emblematic events, both of them tied to the politics of dynastic affirmation which guided his reign. His wedding with Christina of Lorraine, from the family of the royals of France, and the precious altar-ciborium for the family mausoleum, the Princes’ Chapel, chosen as the exhibition venue.
The heart of the exhibition is the altar of the Princes’ Chapel, the mythical temple of semiprecious stones and precious metals, that Ferdinando loved but that was left unfinished. Of this extraordinary product of the artistic excellence of the grand-ducal manufactory, dismembered in the second half of the XVIII century, the exhibition for the first time reassembles mosaiked panels of semiprecious stones, reliefs, columns, entablatures, etc., today in Italian and foreign museums. The show presents other seventeenth-century furnishings, also of precious materials, which drew inspiration from the Medici altar.
The exhibition concludes with the models and manufactures tied to the nineteenth-century project for a new altar, which in part went into today’s “postiche” wooden altar, set up in 1937 as a temporary model and voted down by a commission of experts, and that today appears even more discordant and inadequate. It is this unfinished legacy that the exhibition will seek to bring into question, evaluating the possibility to use the nineteenth-century project and the Opificio’s reserves of materials and technical know-how to finally give the Chapel its altar of semiprecious stones.
Polo Museale Fiorentino Website