The source of this exhibition at Villa Bardini is not only the story of a famous antique dealer, Stefano Bardini, the wealthy and cultured French collectors Edouard André and his wife Nélie Jacquemart, but it is also the story of two museums: the Museo Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris and the Bardini Museum in Florence.
Set in the centre of a green Eden made up of its own park and the nearby Boboli Gardens, the splendid Villa Bardini plays host to this exhibition of masterpieces by Botticelli, Donatello, Mantegna, Paolo Uccello temporarily returned to Florence.
Sold to great collectors from beyond the Alps by Bardini and other coeval antique dealers between the late 19th century and the early 20th century – a period when a conspicuous number of Italian art objects from the most disparate provenances were being exported – these artworks have now come back to those places which were the hub of Stefano Bardini’s activity.
Mainly characterized by the juxtaposition of Gothic and Renaissance everyday and art objects evoking noble and upper middle-class residences of the past, Bardini’s style actually set a “Florentine standard” which can legitimately be considered the archetype of such splendid museums as the Musée Jacquemart-André.
The Renaissance from Florence to Paris and Back also documents the three extraordinary personalities behind the movement of these art masterpieces.
Heir of a family of imperial aristocracy bankers, friend of Napoleon III, Edouard André left the army at first and then politics, with the aim of filling the magnificent palace commissioned in Paris on the exclusive Bd. Haussmann with artistic treasures.
Nélie Jacquemart was a painter, portraitist belonging to the high society. They both married at an advanced age and, thanks to her, Andrè fell in love with Italy and the masters of the Renaissance.
Starting from 1882 every year they made a trip to Florence, where they found that famous antique dealer Stefano Bardini was the ideal partner and expert and well-stocked agent, from which they bought hundreds of masterpieces of any kind, which make today’s Jacquemart-André Museum one of France’s splendours.
Nélie was widowed in 1894 and she continued to visit Florence and shop until she died in 1912, when she left the palace and collections to the State with the obligation to turn it into a public museum accessible to everyone. In fact, both she and her husband thought that art should be shared.
Stefano Bardini, for his part, stopped his business activities just prior to the First World War and then he devoted himself to his personal, very refined collection, which is the current Bardini Museum at Piazza dei Mozzi.
The Renaissance from Florence to Paris and Back Website