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The Eighteenth Century in the Martini Collection

This collection is a rare example of the cabinet d’art, acquired by the City of Prato from the Spedale della Misericordia in 1895 through the legacy of its director, Giovanni Martini. It is a splendid collection that includes still lifes, floral subjects, epic battles and Biblical episodes, where large-format canvases alternate with small works in the Nordic style. Outstanding among the latter are four paintings by Michele Rocca, the Nymphs with Flowers, Nymphs with Pearls, Nymphs with Coral, Angelica and Medoro, subjects typical of rococo art; the refined Bathsheba at her Bath; and the delicate sketch depicting the famous Biblical episode of Lot and his Daughters.

Forming a chapter to itself is the group of Cavalry Battles, painted on copper in the Flemish manner both with brio and a light touch by Pietro Graziani who was considered a specialist in this genre.

A fine tribute to the fashion for vedutas prevailing at the time appears in the collection of Imaginary Landscapes, attributed here to Suor Celeste, whose real name was Maria Luigia Raggi. An exceptionally talented woman, she specialized in idealized vedutas for foreigners taking the Grand Tour. Her paintings, always highly original, feature terse, luminous skies with vibrant, irregular clouds recalling the pointillisme of paintings on porcelain. Among the paintings of floral subject is a rare canvas by Lodovico Stern dating from the late 18th century.