the gallery of the innocents hospital in florence, italy

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  The Gallery of the Hospital of the Innocents  

Address: Piazza SS. Annunziata, 12

The Gallery is set in one of the best known and most important architectural complexes of the early fifteenth century in Florence. This was commissioned and financed by the Arte della Lana to the designs of Filippo Brunelleschi. The "hospital" aimed to raise abandoned children and teach them some useful trade enabling them to take their place in society. In the buildings of the refectory, cloisters, dormitories, infirmary, nurses' rooms and porticoes, Brunelleschi created a perfect example of rational and harmonious hospital architecture subsequently enlarged and decorated with frescoes documenting the continuing activities of the institution and the favours of the reigning Medici family. After the 1966 flood, the entire complex of buildings was completely restored in an attempt to return to its original fifteenth century appearance.

The Gallery is placed in the loggia above the cloister and in the former dayroom of the children above the main portico. It consists of fine works which represent however only a small part of the collections made up over the centuries by gifts, bequestes and loans, apart from works, specifically executed for the Innocenti itself. Although the more important objects by Della Robbia. Fra' Angelico, Vasari and Giambologna were dispersed in the nineteenth century what remains is of outstanding quality. This includes panel paintings, detached frescoes, furniture and decorations and a series of fine illuminated manuscripts of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries among the best in Florence.

The best pictures include the Adoration of the Magi by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494) made for the Hospital church, one of the most significant paintings of the late fifteenth century. Its colours and detail are splendid and includes portraits of merchants of the Arte della Seta and their servants, all connected with Hospital life. There are some gold-ground paintings of high quality, and a Madonna and Child attributed to the young Botticelli (1445-1510) still under the influence of his master Filippo Lippi, one of Luca della Robbia's most attractive glazed terracottas, an alterpiece by Piero di Cosimo (1461/2-1521) also painted for the Hospital church and a typical Madonna of the Innocenti of the school of Granacci (1469-1543).

In it, the Madonna is seen protecting the children in front of the portico of Brunelleschi.

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