Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici (1667-1743) was the last living descendent of the Medici family. She was the only daughter and second child of Cosimo III. Her mother Marguerite Louise d’Orléans abandoned her when she was very young, so she was raised by her paternal grandmother Vittoria della Rovere.
Who was the Electress Palatine?
Anna Maria Luisa became the Electress of Palatine when she married Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine in 1691. After she married, she lived in Düsseldorf with her husband. They had a harmonious marriage despite the fact that they failed to produce an heir. At the insistence of her father, Anna Maria Luisa helped arrange a marriage for her younger brother Gian Gastone. Unfortunately this marriage was not successful and Gian Gastone also failed to produce an heir to the Medici family. This also created an estrangement between Gian Gastone and Anna Maria Luisa because he blamed her for forcing him into his miserable marriage.
Following the tradition of her family, Anna Maria Luisa was actively interested in the arts. While she lived in Germany, she facilitated artistic exchange between Florence and Düsseldorf. Works by Italian artists like Raphael and Andrea del Sarto were sent to Germany, while in exchange Flemish and Dutch paintings were added to the Medici collections. Anna Maria Luisa also amassed one of the richest jewelry collections during her time in Germany. After Anna Maria Luisa’s husband died in 1716, she returned to Florence in 1717.
Upon her return to Florence, Anna Maria Luisa patronized many Tuscan artists. She commissioned numerous works including a bronze series, religious paintings, still life paintings, studies of animals, self-portraits, and miniature paintings. She also facilitated important works in San Lorenzo; Vincenzo Meucci frescoed the cupola and the campanile was rebuilt by Federico Ruggieri.
The patroness of Florence heritage
With the impending death of her brother Grand Duke Gian Gastone, the reign of the Medici would come to an end with no male heir to succeed the throne. Anna Maria Luisa realized the importance of preserving her family’s patrimony, so she created the Family Pact of 1737. This document stipulated that the Medici art collections could not be sold or taken out of Florence. Ultimately this pact saved the extensive Medici collections and has preserved the wealth of Florence. The city would not be what it is today without this enduring act of Anna Maria Luisa.
Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici died in 1743. In addition to the Family Pact, she willed all of her possessions to the Tuscan state and stipulated some of her riches to help complete and perfect the chapel of San Lorenzo. She was buried in the crypt she helped complete in San Lorenzo.
Thanks to Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici and her Family Pact, Florence is one of the most visited cities in the world.
Post by Brianna Pohl