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A Palace and the City

The new exhibition at the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo in Italy

As part of the 150th Anniversary of Florence, Museo Salvatore Ferragamo holds an exhibition at the Palazzo Spini Feroni to commemorate the 150 years since Florence was named capital of the Kingdom of Italy (1865-1870) and to celebrate the building’s history since it became the city hall in 1865.

The exhibition will include historical works of art and documents from other museums and private collections such as the Florentine Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Palazzo Pitti and Galleria dell’Accademia, the Parisian Centre Pompidou, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and many more. The items to be exhibited weave the story behind the palace and the people who resided in it, bringing to light the history of the Palazzo Spini Feroni – which the Ferragamo family has painstakingly restored for the city – as a magnificent example of Medieval architecture.

Photographs taken in January and February 2015 by Arrigo Coppitz with some interior and exterior shots of Palazzo Spini Feroni

Curated by Art History experts Stefania Ricci and Riccardo Spinelli, the intricate and powerful exhibition is designed by stage designer Maurizio Balò. The exhibit, which opened last May,  will run until the 3rd of April 2016 and will be housed in different exhibition rooms. Going inside the exhibition is like traveling through time, going through the many phases of Palazzo Spini Feroni through the years. The journey begins with the world of Salvatore Ferragamo, who chose this palace in 1938 to be the place where he could receive his local customers. Ferragamo's fine artisanal products were complemented by the magnificence of the unique and historical place. Since he bought the place, he started to use the imagery of the palace in his product branding, on the company’s letterhead and the front of shoe boxes, advertisements and on the first Ferragamo silk scarf. Today, the palace remains as the company’s headquarters and a symbol of the brand. The exhibit on the first room is told through photographs, film footage and the shoes on display – 650 evening styles and 264 daytime styles designed by Salvatore Ferragamo and his daughter Fiamma from the 1950s to the 1960s.

Workers in the Ferragamo footwear workshop in Palazzo Feroni, Florence, 1937. Archivi Alinari, Florence

The second exhibition room tells the story of The palace was built in 1289 as commissioned by Geri Spini from the family of the owners of one of Europe’s most influential banks, the Spini family. The room is designed with two large chests holding works of art and documents such as the painting from a private collection showing the Spini family tree, scrolls attesting to the wealth of the family and other collections and engravings including two scale models of the palace specifically created for the exhibition.

The Ferragamo footwear workshop in Palazzo Spini Feroni, 1937. Archivi Alinari, Florence

The third room houses artworks that tell the story of The Palace between the 1600s and 1700s. The next room is dedicated to the revered poet, Dante Alighieri, and his love Beatrice. One of the highlights of this section is the painting of Dante Gabriele Rossetti (painter and founder of the pre-Raphaelite school) loaned by the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The scene on the painting shows the Santa Trinita bridge, at the corner of Palazzo Spini Feroni, by the well where Beatrice drew water.

The emblem of the exhibition is inspired by a 360° view of Florence from the turrets of Palazzo Spini Feroni originally engraved by Ramsay Richard Reinagle for the 1806 publication of “Journal des Luxus und der Modern”.

The next exhibition room contains Girolamo Segato and his “marvelous petrifactions.” Girolamo Segato is the most eclectic resident of Palazzo Spini Feroni who was fond of mummification of bodies, and the exhibit includes some of his works such as the ivory-colored petrified breasts of a woman. Room six showcases Palazzo Spini Feroni in the nineteenth century. Another room features artifacts of the palace, Florence, the Middle Ages and the current day including a video installation of a 24-hour day inside and outside the palace. Room eight recreates the renowned library Gabinetto Scientifico Letterario Vieusseux, which was located on the ground floor of Palazzo Spini Feroni from May 1873 to 1898. Room nine features the palace in the twentieth century depicted in the photograph displays including photographs of Palazzo Spini Feroni’s interiors and exteriors, shot specifically for the exhibition by the photographer Arrigo Coppitz. The last exhibit is The Luigi Bellini Gallery, inspired by the first art show organized by Luigi Bellini (11th generation dynasty of antique dealers) in 1932. It showcases different works displayed in the palace during those years.

In the late 40s, Salvatore Ferragamo commissed Pietro Annigoni to produce a painting (now lost) with the view of the building from Piazza Santa Trinita. For years, this image was used on the company’s headed paper, and on Ferragamo shoe boxes and carrier bags. Photo Arrigo Coppitz. Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, Florence
94 Ivory-coloured petrified breasts with dark-brown nipples, wooden case, glass and fabric from Museo di Storia Naturale dell’Università di Firenze, Biomedical Section (Anatomy), Florence

 

Enrico Pazzi, Head of Dante, before 1865, plaster. Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Florence

During the inauguration of the exhibition, Salvatore Ferragamo’s boutique, located on the palace’s ground floor, was dressed like the unique windows of Palazzo Spini Feroni for two weeks, the windows giving a glimpse of what goes on inside the fashion house.

For more information about the exhibit visit www.ferragamo.com/museo. In the Philippines, Salvatore Ferragamo is exclusively distributed by Stores Specialists, Inc., a member of SSI Group, Inc., and is located at Rustan’s Makati, Rustan’s Shangri-La, Greenbelt 4, Power Plant Mall, Newport Mall and Alabang Town Center. Visit www.ssilife.com.ph for more information.

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