Studiolo of Francesco I

The Studiolo is a small painting-encrusted barrel-vaulted room in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy. It was commissioned by Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. It was completed for the duke from 1570 to 1572, by teams of artists under the supervision of Giorgio Vasari and the scholars Giovanni Batista Adriani and Vincenzo Borghini.

This small room was part-office, part-laboratory, part-hiding place, and part-cabinet of curiosities. Here the prince tinkered with alchemy and kept his collection of small, precious, unusual or rare objects. The walls and ceiling were decorated with paintings showing a similar variety of subjects, some showing exotic forms of industry and others mythology. The inset paintings are now all that remains in the room of the original contents. They are rather larger than what is normally meant by the term cabinet painting.

The late-Mannerist decorative program of paintings and sculpture was based on items encompassed by the collection. The object collection itself was stored in ~ 20 cabinets. In the center is a fresco of Prometheus receiving jewels from nature, commenting on the interplay of divine, nature, and humanity, that is the goal of both artistic and scientific interests.


The Invention of Gunpowder by Jacopo Coppi

The walls were also covered with 34 paintings representing mythologic or religious subjects, or representing trades. The arrangement was such that paintings were somehow related to their neighbors, and emblematic of the objects in the cabinets below. The arrangement we see today is somewhat speculative; and the relationships are not always clear. For example, Tommaso d'Antonio Manzuoli's Diamond Mines hangs above Maso de Sanfriano's Fall of Icarus. The painting by Giovanni Battista Naldini of the House of the Dreams emphasized the relationship with the adjacent bedroom of the Prince. In addition, originally a portrait of Francesco's mother, Eleonora of Toledo by Bronzino, kept vigil.[1]

While the Studiolo employed many of the best of contemporary Florentine painters, their work in this room, for most, does not represent their best efforts. The room itself is now more interesting as an example of an introverted and eccentric monarch; from an artistic viewpoint, the style of these paintings is the high point of Florentine Mannerism, as reflected in the affected and contorted crowds in the canvases. The pseudo-allegiance to the sciences couple with the sense that they illuminated the educated monarch, suggest a prescient hint of the encyclopedic philosophy of Enlightenment. However, Francesco ultimately was a poor representative of the inquisitive mind; at best this room served as a tinkerer's closet, a place for this personally awkward monarch to find seclusion from his wife, family, and court. Not long after the death of the Grand Duke, it was neglected and dismantled by 1590, only to be partially reconstructed in the twentieth century as a Renaissance oddity within the medieval palace. Lacking furniture or a closed door, this reconstruction fails to accurately recreate the claustrophobic feel of the original.[citation needed]

Contributing artists to the Studiolo


Statuary Niches and Portraits of Francesco's Parents

Portrait of Cosimo
Bronze by Ammanati

Portrait of Eleonora of Toledo
Bronze by Giambologna
Vault fresco: Prometheus receives Precious Stone from Nature
Ovals of Studiolo
Atlanta and Hippomenes
Forge of Vulcan
Ulysses, Mercury, Circe
Ring of Polycrates
Darius’ Family before Alexander
Fall of Icarus
Alexander and Campaspe in Studio of Apelles
Neptune and Amphitrite
Hercules and Omphalus
Sack of a City
Juno takes Girdle of Venus
Hercules slays Dragon
Deucalion and Pyrrha
Jason and Medea
Lavinia at the Altar
Upper Rectangular Canvases of Studiolo
Alchemist's Studio
Jewelry Factory
Gathering Ambergris
Woolmaking Factory
Bronze Foundry
Diamond Mines
Pearl Fisherman
Thermal Baths at Pozzuoli
Perseus and Andromeda
Sisters of Phaeton
Moses parting Red Sea


  1. ^ Christopher Hibbert, The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici (1979), Penguin Books
  2. ^ a b c Cole, Michael W. (2011). Ambitious Form: Giambologna, Ammanati, and Danti in Florence. YPrinceton University Press. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-691-14744-4.
  3. ^ Biography.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Scientific Itineraries in Tuscany: Home".
  5. ^ Schaefer S. The Invention of Gunpowder Journal of the Warburg and Courtald Institutes. (1981) p209-211.

Media related to Studiolo di Francesco I at Wikimedia Commons

43°46′8.86″N 11°15′23.59″E / 43.7691278°N 11.2565528°E / 43.7691278; 11.2565528