THE MUSEO NAZIONALE DI VILLA GUINIGI
The National Museum of Villa Guinigi is situated in Via della Quarquonia, on the eastern side of the city, outside Porta San Gervasio and adjacent to the outside of the 13th century Lucca’s walls, nearby the palace of the Marquises of Tuscia.
The main art museum in Lucca hosts a rich collection of Ligurian, Etruscan and Roman remnants, funerary urns, columns and sculptures; religious sculptures, medieval carvings and capitals proceeding from the principal ancient churches in the city, as well as from the magnificent Cathedral of San Martino. It also houses an important collection of antique coins and of inlaid panels from the Late Middle Ages, as well as a not very large but worthy painting collection, coming for the most part from the 14th and 15th centuries.
The imposing red-brick “Villa Guinigi”with opened gallerieson the two façades, with arches supported by slim columns with carved capitals, and a continuous sequence of mullioned windows on the upper floor with, was the country residence of Paolo Guinigi, Lord of Lucca, who ruled the city between November 21st, 1400 and August 16th, 1430. The construction of the palace started in 1408, on occasion of the third marriage of Paolo Guinigi with the noblewoman Piacentina da Varano di Ridolfo Signore di Camerino.
Guinigi surrounded the palace by a marvellous garden lined with trees, flower patches, bushes, aviaries, terracotta statues, fountains and mosaic floorings. In 1430, after he was overthrown from power, the palace was held by the Republic of Lucca.
In the first decades of the 16th century “Villa Guinigi” was restored and subsequently rented. Some years later it was divided into three parts and two thirds were bought by prosperous families in Lucca. In 1860 the palace was completely restored and it recuperated for the most part its original internal features. In 1924 “Villa Guinigi” was the palace chosen by the Municipality of Lucca to be converted into the Town Museum. In 1948 the Italian State was already in possession of “Villa Guinigi” and in 1968 it was turn into the seat of the National Museum.
The art collections preserved in the Museum are considered among the most important ones related to Lucca’s history. Furthermore the well-known archaeological collection, the Museum houses a series of artworks, which represent the development of art in the city of Lucca and its province since the middle ages until the 18th century.
The northern open gallery displays Roman columns, capitals and fountains, while the southern open gallery hosts the impressive gravestones carved by the brilliant Senese sculptor Jacopo della Quercia (1374 ca.- 1438 ca.)
In the rooms located on the ground floor is displayed an unbelievable collection of Ligurian, Etruscan, Roman and Greek finds, as well as an important one of artworks from the Gothic, pre-Romanesque, Romanesque and Renaissance periods. Among them make stand out the notable Lucchese coins collection, which demonstrate the importance of the symbol of the “Volto Santo”- hosted in the Cathedral of San Martino- along the history of Lucca.
The rooms on the upper floor preserve a significant collection of inlaid panels from the Late Middle Ages, which were the forte of Lucca during that period, including the wonderful “Madonna con Bambino e S. Giovanni Evangelista” by the prestigious Byzantine stile Tuscan painter Ugolino Lorenzetti (active from 1320 ca. to 1360); the treasured wooden cross by Berlinghiero Berlinghieri (active in Lucca from 1228 to 1232); the 15th century wood inlays representing scenes from Lucca and from the “Ponte del Diavolo” at Borgo a Mozzano, as well as the intarsia artworks created by the talented Emilian painter Cristoforo Canozzi da Lendinara (1420-1490 ca.)
Among the paintings stand out: the “Madonna con Bambino e Santi” by the celebrated Pisan painter Zanobi Machiavelli (1418 ca.-1479); the two paintings by the brilliant Tuscan artist Fra Bartolomeo (Savignano di Prato, 1472 – Florence, 1517): “Il Padre Eterno e Santi” and the “Madonna della Misericordia”.
The 18th century painting in Lucca is represented by three outstanding canvases by the illustrious artist Pompeo Girolamo Batoni (Lucca, 1708 – Rome, 1787): the “Martirio di San Bartolomeo”, the “Estasi di Santa Caterina” -once hosted in the churches of San Ponziano and Santa Caterina, respectively- and the portrait of the Archbishop Giovan Domenico Mansi.
The Museo Nazionale di Villa Guinigi opens from Tuesday to Sunday.
From 9:00 am to 7:00 pm (from Tuesday to Saturday). On Sunday: from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.
The entrance ticket is 4 euros.
Other Pages about Lucca
Hystory and Origins
Must-See Monuments and Art in Lucca
- Il Duomo di San Martino - Palazzo dei Guinigi - Chiesa di San Michele in Foro - The native house of Giacomo Puccini
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