The rapid class="lnkTesto"rise to wealth and power of the Florentine Riccardi family began around the mid sixteenth century and reached its moment of greatest glory in 1659, when the marquises Gabriello and Francesco bought the palazzo in Via Larga from the Medici for 40,000 scudi. After it was appropriately renovated and extended, after which it became the splendid setting for the family’s entire collections of books and works of art.
The large reception room, famous for the frescoes by Luca Giordano, became the vestibule of the sala della biblioteca. Its ceiling was decorated by the artist in accordance with a celebratory iconographic scheme of extraordinary unity. For its magnificent carved and gilded bookshelves, so that the Riccardiana, preserved perfectly intact, gives us a tangible idea of an aristocratic private library of the end of the seventeenth century, (Sala di Esposizione).
The collection was begun in the sixteenth century by Riccardo Romolo Riccardi. In the last decades of the seventeenth, it was significantly enlarged by Francesco Riccardi, partially as a result of the dowry of his wife, Cassandra Capponi. Her father Vincenzio, an erudite and famous man of letters and science closely connected with the circle of Galileo, had left his daughter part of his extensive library of scientific and philosophical texts.
In the eighteenth century the family's fortune starts its decline. Their financial trouble also implicated the library, which was put up for auction. The collection ran the risk of leaving Florence, but it was purchased by the City Council in 1813, and handed over to the State two years later. From that moment the Riccardiana became public, although the Riccardi had actually already opened it for academic use. In fact, scholars could benefit from this precious bibliographic heritage until 1737, as illustrated by a register of loans still conserved in the library.
exceptionally precious manuscript heritage boasts autograph
works by Petrarch, Boccaccio, Savonarola and the greatest
Humanists (Alberti, Ficino, Poliziano and Pico della Mirandola)
as well as splendid illuminated codices, magnificent bindings
and major nuclei from other aristocratic and humanist
the correspondence of famous men, and numerous rare works
related to the theatre, the pharmacopoeia, travel, history