Anna Maria Luisa, a true matriarch, patroness of the arts and an inspiration to women all around the world. It is thanks to her, and her Family Pact, that Florence is the city it is today.
Born in 1667, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici was one of the last heirs of the Medici Dynasty, alongside her brother, Grand Duke Gian Gastone. While perhaps not as well known as Lorenzo The Magnificent or Cosimo The Elder, Anna Maria Luisa is nonetheless perhaps one of the most symbolic and cardinal members of the illustrious family, as she single-handedly saved the Medici’s entire artistic patrimony after her brother’s death. By signing the “Family Pact” in 1737, she ensured that all of the “furnishings, belongings and rarities inherited from the Most Serene Grand Duke her brother, such as galleries, paintings, statues, libraries, jewelry, and other precious things, as well as saints’ relics, reliquaries” would have been bound to the city of Florence forever. However, this bestowal of centuries of artistic patrimony occurred only under “the express condition it [the Medici patrimony] be maintained as ornamentation of the State, for public use and to attract the curiosity of foreigners”, never to be “removed or transported outside of the capital and the Grande Ducal State”. With this act, Anna Maria ensured that no work of art would be lost, destroyed, traded, or forgotten, thereby distinguishing Florence from its fellow Italian states such as Ferrara, Urbino, Mantova, and Parma, that had been ruthlessly robbed of their artistic and cultural treasures when the dynasties that had ruled over them had ended. This act also brought into existence the finest museums in the world (the Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Pitti), and ultimately made Florence the city that it is still today.
Other achievements of hers include bringing Flemish masterpieces to Florence (the Flemish had been fundamental in shaping the development of the Renaissance), making abundant donations to ensure the completion of the Medici chapels even after her death, decorating the family mausoleum, and numerous charitable works. The paintings, sculptures, churches and chapels that today, attract visitors from all over the world and have contributed to the development of modern tourism in the region, are all preserved due to Anna Maria Luisa, and her determination to bind the immense artistic patrimony of her family to the city of its birth. In 2014, the Medici Chapel Museum hosted an exhibition paying homage to Anna Maria Luisa’s contribution to society. Additionally, the Advancing Women Artists Foundation named the ‘Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici Award’ after her, an award that recognises a patroness of the arts.
It is true that, more often than not, the crucial role that women play in society is disregarded, or forgotten. It is wonderful to see that the indispensable role that Anna Maria Luisa played has recently been commended, albeit not as much as we believe it should be. We here at The Medici Dynasty Show aim to shed as much light as possible on Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, a patroness of the arts who managed to preserve art forever. She may well prove to be an inspiration to women today, as well as future generations.