- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Visit Stibbert Museum, Florence
Federico Stibbert (1838-1906), the collector who lived in the villa on the hill of Montughi, belonged to the refined world of writers and men of letters, English art amateurs and others who entered the life of Florence during the 19th century. When the original villa became too small for the collections that Stibbert kept with great passion, probably already thinking of a museum, various additions were made by famous artists like the architect Giuseppe Poggi, the painter Gaetano Bianchi, the sculptor Passaglia, who contributed to the present day appearance of one of the most precious examples of 19th century museums. Even the vast park surrounding the villa was reorganised with a new final arrangement that renders it one of the most beautiful gardens in Florence.
In 1906 the collection passed to the Municipal Administration. Today, the museum comprises 10 rooms to exhibit the wide-ranging collections of Stibbert, often from the most varying origins. The furniture itself includes very valuable pieces of furniture like many chests dating back to the 15th century, others of Lombard origin from the 18th century, in addition to an extraordinary table in malachite originating from Demidoff. One of the most typical aspects of the villa is that most of the wall drawings are in leather.
The rooms crowded with very sumptuous objects also display several paintings, again reflecting the taste of a collector who did not seem to appreciate the primitives and preferred to them Dutch painting and still lives. The museum also includes a very lavish group of portraits belonging to different ages.
Another important group of works is represented by the porcelains and majolicas, produced in the most important Italian and foreign manufactories. This museum however owes its reputation to its collection of arms and suits of armours that comprises an incredible number of varying and rare pieces ranging from the 15th to the 17th centuries. The vast majority of arms are European, although there are also Oriental, Persian, Indian and Islamic examples. A particularly suggestive view is offered by the parade of horses and riders fully equipped to represent the Italian, German and Islamic arms and suits of armours belonging to the 16th and 17th centuries.
The museum also displays a very important group of Japanese arms, with dozens of suits of arms and hundreds of swords, which constitutes the largest collection of this kind outside of Japan.