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Omaggio al Granduca

Florence, Palazzo Pitti, Tesoro dei Granduchi
24 June – 24 September 2017

€33.25 Save 5%

A Gift for the Grand Duke - Memories of the Silver Plates for the Feast of St. John

“St. John’s Plates”: from silverware to plaster cast

The precious items in the Treasury of the Grand Dukes include a number of 18th-century moulds of the now lost “St. John’s plates”, a nostalgic echo of masterpieces of the Roman silversmith’s art in the age of the Baroque. 

The fifty-eight magnificent silver ewers were intended as a gift for Grand Duke Cosimo III (1642–1723) and, after him, for Gian Gastone (1671–1737), his successor on the throne of Tuscany. One ewer was presented every year on 24 June, the for the Feast of St. John, from 1680 until the Medici dynasty ended in 1737. 

The silver ewers, weighing some fifteen pounds (or five kg.) and worth 300 Roman scudi each, were meticulously embossed and chased with scenes celebrating the most illustrious members of the House of Medici from Lorenzo the Magnificent down to the reigning Grand Dukes.

It was probably the fact that the ewers depicted the unusual subject of her family’s history that prompted the Electress Palatine Anna Maria Luisa (1667–1743) to do everything in her power to safeguard them from the threat of destruction at the hands of the House of Lorraine, who succeeded the Medici on the throne of Tuscany and whose military expenditure meant that they were regularly strapped for cash.

The ewers were jealously guarded in the Wardrobe in Palazzo Vecchio, leaving the premises only from 1789 to 1791 for display in the “Medal Room” in the Uffizi. Sent back to the Wardrobe as their popularity declined, they set off down the path to oblivion. It is only thanks to casts commissioned by the Marchese Carlo Ginori and made in his Manufactory in Doccia between 1746 and 1748 that we can appreciate at least a pale reflection of their splendour today.


Data sheet

Edited by:
Rita Balleri e Maria Sframeli
Edition (cm):
24 x 28
180 coloured images
Front cover:
coloured with flaps
Firenze Musei
Coordinamento editoriale
Valentina Conticelli