Brocca a forma di navicella (1610)
Brocca a forma di navicella (1610)

Lapis Lazzuli

The Medici Treasury (Pitti Palace)

June 9, 2015


October 11, 2015

The exhibition Lapis Lazzuli, Magia del Blu at the Medici Treasury in Florence is dedicated to objects of art made with lapis lazuli, the rare deep-blue semi-precious stone with an intense colour.

Since antiquity lapis lazuli has been mined in the mountains of Badakhshan (today Afghanistan) from the quarries of Sar-e-Sang, a site visited by Marco Polo in the 13th century. By that time the stone had become a symbol of wealth, along with gold, silver and other precious metals.

The exhibition displays vases, cups, and flasks made of lapis lazuli, originally created for the royal courts of the Renaissance. Many of the artefacts are from the museum’s own collection, but there are also contributions by museums like the Prado Museum in Madrid, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, the Grünes Gewölbe in Dresden, and the Landesmuseum Württemberg in Stuttgart.

By grinding the precious stone, lapis lazuli can be made into the ultramarine pigment, which during the Renaissance was widely used in frescoes and oil paintings. The exhibition includes examples of these paintings.

The Museum of Natural History of the University of Florence has contributed to the exhibition by presenting some of the scientific aspects of the rare stone.

Practical Information
please see The Medici Treasury (Pitti Palace)

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