Florence

Palazzo Rosselli del Turco: a story started over 500 years ago

The Borgherini were among the most active supporters of the arts in the first half of the 16th century in Florence. The palazzo was commissioned by Pier Francesco Borgherini to Baccio d'Agnolo – one of the most famous architects of the period – in around 1517.

Its windows and doors are decorated with a course of typical ‘bugnato’ (Florentine ashlar) and elegant wrought iron - used to hold torches and banners - that emerge on bare plaster which is then divided into the two top floors. The spacious entry hall leads to an irregularly shaped atrium which owes its form to the fact that it shares a wall with the church of Santi Apostoli. There is in fact a private access to the church from inside the palazzo. The vaults of the atrium ceiling end in fine corbels decorated with two bands of acanthus leaves, while the ceiling of the stairs is made of planks of stone - a rarity in Florentine palazzos.

The luxurious interior of the building was described by Vasari in his work dedicated to the life of Baccio: ‘He gave Pier Francesco Borgherini drawings of the house in Borgo Santo Apostolo, who at great expense had ornaments brought for the doors and chimneys, and in particular oversaw the creation of the finely carved walnut paneling of the room, which at its termination, was of great beauty.’

The room mentioned above was commissioned by Salvi Borgherini, who had a bridal chamber built in honor of the marriage of his son Pier Francesco and Margherita Acciaiuoli. Baccio d'Agnolo oversaw the creation of the wooden decoration of the room which included painted panels which were embedded into the architectural design. Baccio acted as an intermediary between the patron and the most important painters of the time – Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo, Bachiacca and Granacci – who were asked to decorate these panels with the story of Joseph the Jew; probably alluding to the young couple or the patron, a local personality. The fame and the beauty of this room were such that as early as 1584, some panels had already been sold by the order of Francesco I de' Medici, who desired the panels by Andrea del Sarto and Granacci for his own collection. Today, the panels are scattered across various European museums, including the Uffizi .

For the stone detailing of the palazzo, Baccio d'Agnolo collaborated with Benedetto da Rovezzano. Of particular note is the fine fireplace which da Rovezzano created for one of the rooms of the palazzo and which can now be seen in the Bargello museum.

The Borgherini family lived in the palazzo until the mid-18th century, when the family was implicated in a scandal involving shortages from the Granai dell’Abbondanza granary. The family’s holdings and properties were confiscated by the Lorraine State and sold at judicial auction. It was during this auction that the Rosselli del Turco family acquired the property which has been in their possession ever since. The Rosselli family was known for having birthed many famous painters, such as Cosimo and Matteo Rosselli and the antiquities scholar, Stefano Rosselli (1598-1664), author of manuscripts on the works of art found in Florentine churches of the 17th century.

Today the building hosts ESE Florence, while the garden is house of ESE’s partner Aria Art Gallery.

 

TEXT SOURCE: Associazione Dimore Storiche Italiane – Sezione Toscana, see www.adsitoscana.it

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