the contini bonacossi donation in florence, italy

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  The Contini Bonacossi Donation  

Address: Piazza Pitti, Meridiana Pavilion

The Contini Bonacossi Donation consists of thirty-five paintings, twelve sculptures, forty-eight pieces of Maiolica, eleven large ceramic coats of arms and thirty-eight pieces of furniture. In all, 144 objects of great value were given to the State in 1969 after long and complex negotiations by Count Alessandro Contini Bonacossi from his superb collection in his villa of Pratello Orsini in Florence. This was unquestionably one of the most important gifts of recent years as much for the quality as for the uniqueness of the pieces. These include a Madonna and Saint attributed to Cimabue (recorded 1272-1302), another by Duccio (recorded 1278-1318) or his workshop, and an exceptional fifteenth century alterpiece showing the Madonna of the Snow by Sassetta (1400-c. 1450) which reveals the quality of the Sienese school in a way attained by few other works. Also of importance is Cima da Conegliano's (c. 1459-c. 1517) St. Jerome and from the sixteenth century the portrait of Count Giuseppe da Porto and his son by Paolo Veronese (1528-1588).

The portrait of a Torero by Goya (1746-1828) is a striking companion to "El Aguador de Sevilla" by Velasquez (15991-1660) and the powerful Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, a youthful sculpture by Bernini (1598-1680) and possibly the major sculpture in the collection. The so-called minor arts contain some outstanding objects, above all a group of Renaissance maiolica, chests and furniture ranging from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century. The terms of this gift stated that the objects had to be kept united in a way which would preserve their original grouping and the present layout maintains the harmony created among different types of object by the collector.

The collection belongs to the Uffizi, but because of lack of space it has been temporarily housed in the Neoclassical Meridiana pavilion in the Boboli Gardens, reached from the Gallery of Modern Art.

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