The exhibition stems from the banquet held in Palazzo Vecchio on the evening of 5 October 1600 for the Florentine nuptials of Maria de' Medici to Henry IV of France.

We are aware of this historical event thanks to the detailed description given by Michelangelo Buonarroti the Younger. Indeed, we know all the arrangements designed by the architect Bernardo Buontalenti for the royal table and those of the guests and the fabulous piece of furniture by Jacopo Ligozzi, a 'credenza' in the shape of a fleur-de-lis, made to show the guests two thousand pieces of the Medici treasure.

Moreover, the archival documentation relating to this ceremony has highlighted the pivotal role played by the sculptures made for the occasion in sugar and the virtuoso napkin foldings. Indeed, the former was intended as "decorative foods" conceived as true works of art - not coincidentally modelled on illustrious contemporary prototypes by Florentine sculptors of the late 16th century - while the latter was also proposed during the banquet to the awe of the participants.

The sugar sculptures produced for the banquet, some considerable in size, inspired by hunting and pastoral themes, aroused the admiration of the queen and guests, thus being qualified as a refined expression of the genius of Florentine artisans on an occasion of unprecedented political and diplomatic importance for the Medici family.

Inspired by this wedding and its celebrations, the exhibition intends to re-enact the banquet with an evocative reconstruction of the "royal table", the "lily credenza", and its furnishings.

The core of the historical re-enactment is the reproduction of some of those sugar figures, today created by the skilful craftsmanship of Sarah and Giacomo Del Giudice of the Fonderia in Strada in Chianti and the fantastic "folding" of napkins made by the master Joan Sallas.

Insofar as they are hardly visible to a non-expert public, of undoubted curiosity is the display in the exhibition of signed receipts and invoices issued by the artists to the Medici administration for their services.

Through these spectacular items, symbolic and ephemeral representations of the Medici splendour, the investigation opens up to other categories, such as sociology, costume, aesthetics, and economics.


The exhibition, like the catalogue published by Sillabe, is curated by Giovanna Giusti and Riccardo Spinelli and is promoted by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism with the Regional Administration for the Cultural and Landscape Heritage of Tuscany and the Special Superintendence for the Historical, Artistic and Ethno-anthropological Heritage and the Polo Museale of the City of Florence, the Palatine Gallery and Firenze Musei.


Jacopo da Empoli Matrimonio di Maria de’ Medici 1600  Firenze, Galleria degli UffiziGiambologna (Douai 1529 – Firenze 1608) o Antonio Susini (Firenze 1588 – 1624) Ritratto equestre di Enrico IV di Francia Primo decennio del XVII secolo, bronzo  Digione, Musée des Beaux-ArtsSanti di Tito (Sansepolcro 1536 – Firenze 1603) e bottega Ritratto di Maria de’ Medici 1600 olio su tela Firenze, Palazzo Pitti, Galleria PalatinaAlessandro Allori (Firenze 1535-1607) Nozze di Cana 1592-1600  olio su tavola  Firenze, chiesa di Sant’Agata, altare maggiorePaul Hübner (attivo nella seconda metà del XVI secolo)  Mesciroba 1585-1590 circa argento dorato Firenze, Museo degli ArgentiPaul Hübner (attivo nella seconda metà del XVI secolo) Bacile 1585-1590 circa argento dorato Firenze, Museo degli ArgentiBernardo Buontalenti (?) (Firenze,  1538 – 1608) e “Galleria dei Lavori” Coppa a catino con ansa a tritone  ante 1599 lapislazzulo Firenze, Museo degli ArgentiFonderia del Giudice Venere in piedi in atto di asciugarsi (da Giambologna) gesso e zuccheroFonderia del Giudice Leone azzanna un toro, (da Giambologna) gesso e zucchero


Sweet triumphs and exquisite foldings. Sugar sculptures and napkins for the Florentine nuptials of Maria de' Medici

Palatine Gallery, Pitti Palace, Florence

10 March - 7 June 2015

The exhibition is curated by Giovanna Giusti, Riccardo Spinelli

Exhibition catalogue published by Sillabe (available only in Italian)

Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo, Direzione Regionale per i Beni Culturali e Paesaggistici della Toscana, Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico e per il Polo Museale della città di Firenze, Galleria Palatina di Palazzo Pitti, Firenze Musei