Alessandro Allori (Firenze 1535-1607)
This stunning room was originally an open loggia leading on to the Boboli Gardens, and located in the South wing of the Palace. It was designed to house the “Apartments for Foreign Princes and Cardinals” (Guest Apartments). It boasts the oldest painted decoration in Pitti Palace, commissioned from Alessandro Allori by Ferdinand de’ Medici shortly before he became Grand Duke. In the centre of the vault, a trompe l’oeil depicts a terrace that opens out under the sky and, along the balustrade, various female figures as they perform everyday activities. The highly naturalistic elegance with which animals and some items – such as the candelabras filled with numberless species of flowers – are shown, together with the sheer quality of the execution make this ceiling one of the most extraordinary examples of Florentine Mannerist painting in a private setting. In the centre of the vault, a pair of angels are lifting the Cardinal’s coat-of-arms into the skies, surrounded by a wide variety of birds. Idealised landscapes decorate the walls in an easily narrative style, but also with a wealth of extremely modern naturalistic details, modelled on Flemish experiences, as translated in Florence by Paul Bril. The excellent quality of the frescoes means this work can certainly be attributed to Alessandro Allori, even if some sections are by workshop artists. Restoration work in the 1990s brought to light the illusory decorations that reproduce the balustrade on the outer side of the ancient loggia, as well as the brilliance of the original colours.
S. Padovani, Il Quartiere dei Cardinali e Principi forestieri, in Palazzo Pitti l'Arte e la Storia, Firenze 2000, pp. 43-53