The morning of 27 April 1859
In this piece, Enrico Fanfani has been able to capture a crucial moment in Florentine history: the peaceful expulsion of the Habsburg-Lorraine family from Florence, and the creation of a provisional, independent government that marked the prelude to its voluntary annexing to the Kingdom of Italy. In a kind of diary, Guido Nobili, future Florentine lawyer who, at the time was just eight years of age, described the events of that crucially important day - remembered as the “velvet revolution” since it was completed without the use of violence. His precious descriptions tell us of Leopold II of Lorraine leaving Florence with his family, in a carriage directed towards Vienna. In the city, a provisional government was elected and the Italian tricolour flag was immediately adopted: “the stripes will be vertical... green at the post, white in the middle, and red on the outside.” Our painting shows a moment of jubilation inside the Loggia de’ Lanzi: some are celebrating the grand duke’s departure, while others are raising the Italian flag; people are embracing or throwing their hats in the air, and some are simply observing the event. In the same year as the painting was exhibited at the Promotrice exhibition of 1860, the then minister, Poggi, proclaimed the result of the plebiscite, which saw the victory of the “union with the constitutional monarchy of King Victor Emmanuel”.