Le Vie della Porcellana tra Vienna e Firenze

13 November 2018 – 10 March 2019
Gallerie degli Uffizi, Palazzo Pitti, Tesoro dei Granduchi, Florenz

As a venue for the exhibition marking the tercentenary of the Vienna Porcelain Manufactory, Florence constitutes a major platform for a special aspect of its history, with the collection of the Museo delle Porcellane of the Palazzo Pitti providing the starting point for an exploration of the web of connections between the lifestyles and dynastic interests on both sides of the Alps. Occupying six of the stately rooms of the Museo degli Argenti, which is housed in the erstwhile residence of the grand dukes, the exhibition presents the paths of several generations of grand dukes from the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty who succeeded the last Medici in 1737, as illuminated by a panoply of objects including porcelain, paintings, engravings, furniture and other artefacts of cultural and art-historical significance.

Belonging to the avant-garde of collectors with an international outlook, the princes of Liechtenstein were among the first patrons of the Vienna Porcelain Manufactory. They were, however, also dedicated collectors of Tuscan art, and moreover had close ties with the imperial dynasty. Cooperation between the Uffizi/Palazzo Pitti and LIECHTENSTEIN. The Princely Collections, Vaduz–Vienna has resulted in an opulent spectrum of loans for this jubilee exhibition, supplemented by objects from museums and collections in Italy, Britain, Germany, Austria and the USA.

The exhibition focuses in particular on the person of Peter Leopold (1747-1792), who succeeded his father Franz Stephan as grand duke of Tuscany. Continuing his father's ideas, his innovations were aimed not just at the development and prosperity of the grand duchy but were also prompted by shared European interests. Peter Leopold's artistic sensibility coincided with the heyday of the Vienna Porcelain Manufactory in the Neoclassicism that was its hallmark during the era of Conrad von Sorgenthal, another proponent of Enlightenment ideas, as well as in his friendship and collaboration with Lorenzo Ginori, the son and successor of Carlo Ginori. A fine appreciation of art also marked the passion for collecting of Grand Duke Ferdinand III (1769-1824), after his father had ascended the imperial throne in 1790, particularly as regards the culture associated with the decorating of princely interiors and the festal dining table. These fragile works of porcelain constitute intimate witnesses to the momentous history of Tuscany up to the eventual exile of the Habsburg grand dukes around 1859. In preparation for this exhibition and its accompanying catalogue, extensive research has been conducted under new aspects in the archives of both manufactories and the ruling dynastic houses, focusing in particular on the connections between Vienna and Florence.

When Franz Stephan of Lorraine (1708-1765) received the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in exchange for Lorraine in 1737, on his one and only visit to Florence this early proponent of the Enlightenment was fascinated by his encounter with the legacy of the Medici. Like his successors, he recognized Tuscany as the treasure house of a great tradition as well as its potential as fertile terrain for humanist and Enlightenment reform. The art of pietra dura, contemporary and classical sculpture, collections of East Asian and oriental objects together with the local intellectual tradition provided new impulses for his world of ideas. Production at the Vienna Porcelain Manufactory reflects these developments as well as the cultural tendencies at work in the imperial capital itself. In honour of the new grand duke, Marchese Carlo Ginori was summoned as Tuscan envoy to Vienna, where he paid a visit to the porcelain manufactory operated by the private entrepreneur Claudius Innocentius du Paquier – after Meissen (founded in 1710) only the second of its kind in Europe. This visit was to have momentous consequences: in 1737, with the aid of a Viennese porcelain decorator and an arcanist, Ginori realized his vision of a Tuscan manufactory on his country estate at Doccia near Florence, an enterprise that was sealed with a privilege granted by the grand duke. Its early products clearly display the influence of the Viennese Baroque. At the beginning of the eighteenth century the imperial capital of Vienna was undergoing a characteristic flowering in all the arts, not uncommonly due to Italian influences, particularly as regards music and festal culture.

Le Vie della Porcellana tra Vienna e Firenze

13 November 2018 – 10 March 2019
Gallerie degli Uffizi, Palazzo Pitti, Tesoro dei Granduchi, Florence

In cooperation with LIECHTENSTEIN. The Princely Collections, Vaduz-Vienna

Dr Rita Balleri, Florence
Dr Andreina d'Agliano, Turin
Dr Claudia Lehner-Jobst, Vienna

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue in Italian.

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