Part of the Back of the Pitti Palace at Florence

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The Palazzo Pitti, in English sometimes called the Pitti Palace, is a vast mainly Renaissance palace in Florence, Italy. It is situated on the south side of the River Arno, a short distance from the Ponte Vecchio. The core of the present palazzo dates from 1458 and was originally the town residence of Luca Pitti, an ambitious Florentine banker. The palace was bought by the Medici family in 1549 and became the chief residence of the ruling families of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. It grew as a great treasure house as later generations amassed paintings, plates, jewelry and luxurious possessions. In the late 18th century, the palazzo was used as a power base by Napoleon, and later served for a brief period as the principal royal palace of the newly united Italy. The palace and its contents were donated to the Italian people by King Victor Emmanuel III in 1919, and its doors were opened to the public as one of Florence’s largest art galleries. Today, it houses several minor collections in addition to those of the Medici family, and is fully open to the public. “Columns, pilasters, and mouldings are intermingled and intertwined in a fantastic and meaningless manner, the cornices are often interrupted; the essentially component parts of the architecture are frequently mutilated; for instance, columns and wall-pilasters are executed in rustic work, i. e., formed of extensively projecting hewn stones, yet are furnished with a capital and base as is shown [in this image], which is an illustration taken from the Late Italian Renaissance. For the sake of peculiarity, the various component elements assumed a form diametrically opposed to their original designation; mere decorative and secondary details were raised to the rank of essentials, whilst the real principal forms sank to an entirely subordinate position.”


A. Rosengarten, W. Collett-Sandars A Handbook of Architectural Styles (New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1895)


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