After the death of the last Medici, Grand duke Gian Gastone,
the important European countries in Vienna decided to give
Tuscany to Francis I duke of Lorraine (french-austrian dynasty).
He was succeded by Peter Leopold I, Ferdinando II, Ferdinando
III, finally by Leopoldo II.
With the arrival of the Lorraine family in Florence revives the
town's economy, it unfortunately also accentuates its provincial
mentality which prevents Florence from participating in
international cultural expansion and the consequences for the
town last, strangely, for a long while.
The techniques of Ammannati and Buontalenti greatly influence
architecture: this is seen in the works of Pierfrancesco Silvani
(Palazzo Corsini), Foggini, (Palazzo Viviani della Robbia, in Via
Tornabuoni, the Corn Warehouse in Piazza Cestello) and, at the
turn of the 18th Century, Ruggieri (facade of San Firenze
church). In the mid-18th Century, when international culture is
once again more open to discussion, the Lorraines called the
Frenchman Jadot to Florence for their neo-Classical arches.
Neo-classicism in Florence is of strong historical flavour, good
taste and elegance (the little Meridiana palace in Boboli, the
White Room in Palazzo Pitti, the
Niobe Room in the Uffizi gallery
and the facade of the Villa Poggio Imperiale by Gaspare Maria
Meanwhile Baccani restores the Teatro della Pergola. The Livia palazzina in
Piazza San Marco (1775) seems to reproduce a town version, in
miniature, of the style of the villas and 19th Century country
houses which invade Florence during the Napoleonic period, when
great urbanistic expansion was underhand. Via Larga is
lengthened, two new bridges are built and the roads along the
Arno banks (Lungarni) are extended beyond the city walls, whilst
the poor districts become more and more built-up.
When Leopold II of Lorraine again gained control of the town,
assisted by the Austrian troops, in an atmosphere of imminent
social crisis and flare-up of class warfare, the ideals of beauty
and elegance of the neo- classical period are substituted by the
enlightening theory and hope in the return to nature and the
liberty of mankind.
The increasing contrast between the expansion of the new
residential districts near the city walls and the disquieting
continual increase in the number of people living in the poor
quarters (in 1835 an epidemic broke out in the area around the
Old Market place), are the main cause of social warfare and
revolutions, whilst the birth of industrial economy emphasizes
the problem of the working classes' conditions.