Biblioteca Riccardiana

The Biblioteca Riccardiana (Riccardian Library) is a library in Florence, Italy. The library is located adjacent to the Palazzo Medici Riccardi. The main facade of Michelozzo's Medici Riccardi palace is on Via Camillo Cavour (corner of Via de' Gori), while Riccardiana library's main but unimposing entrance and facade is located on Via de' Ginori, parallel and northeast of Cavour. The rear of the Medici palace has a small polygonal private garden, whose north side also has an entrance to the library.

Reading Room at the Biblioteca Riccardiana
Facade and entry to library from Via de' Ginori.


The library was established in 1600 by Riccardo Romolo Riccardi, of the prominent Riccardi family, who himself had scholarly interests. In 1659, Gabriello and his nephew Francesco Riccardi purchased the Medici palace by Michelozzo, now renamed Medici Riccardi Palace. For the next three decades, they employed prominent architects/artists such as Tacca, Pier Maria Baldi, and Giovanni Battista Foggini in decorating and restructuring the palace. In 1682–1685, Giordano was employed to fresco ceilings of the library with allegories designed by Alessandro Segni.

Francesco was central in beginning to organize the extensive collections of artefacts, including Byzantine ivory, jewelry, medals and coins that had been accumulated by the family. Francesco also enlarged the book acquisitions of the library. The armoires to display these collections were decorated with paintings by Anton Domenico Gabbiani, Bartolomeo Bimbi, and Pandolfo Reschi. In 1691, Tommaso and Giuseppe Nasini painted the frescoes depicting the history of Hercules and Jove for a display and catalogue room.

The marriage in 1669 of Francesco to Cassandra Capponi, enlarged substantially the holding of the library, since she had inherited a large collection of books from her father, Vincenzio Capponi, who had befriended Galileo and his followers, thus acquiring some of the scientific manuscripts. In the 18th century, the marchese Gabriello Riccardi (1705-1798) added and reorganized the library to its present state. A subdeacon in the church, he added collections of religious manuscripts. He purchased in 1742, a large trove of documents of Giovanni Battista Fagiuoli (1660-1742). In 1748 he added ancient codexes from a monastery. He bought the library of Giovanni Battista Doni (937 manuscripts), and collections of family documents belonging to the Strozzi, Davanzati, Salvini, Quaratesi, De Ricci families of Florence. He bought manuscripts and letters of Giovanni Lami including his correspondence with abbot Lorenzo Mehus (1716-1802), the son of the artist Livio Mehus. He bought much of the library of Anton Maria Salvini, Nicodemo Tranchedini, and received a donation of works belonging to Benedetto and Giuseppe Averani. The collection began expanding into some of the private apartments of the palace. Foggini's marble portrait of Vicenzio is in the main reading room.

Upon Gabriello's death in 1794, he willed that the library and museum be open to the public though mediated through a curator or librarian. However, in the turbulent first decades of the 19th century, the family came to bankruptcy and much of the artwork and artefacts were sold at auction during 1811–1814. In 1825 the Granducal authorities intervened to prevent the dispersal of the library and it was converted to a public library, with it first librarian Francesco Fontani. It has maintained some autonomy from the other prominent libraries in Florence: the Marucelliana, the biblioteca Nazionale, and the Laurenziana.[1] Presently the library is administered by the Accademia della Crusca.


Various catalogues of manuscript collections have been made, including an annotated one in 1756 by the librarian Giovanni Lami.[2] In 1900, another catalog was published by Salomone Morpurgo (1860 – 1942), until 1898 librarian of the Riccardiana.[3] The library holds a copy of Pliny's Historia naturalis dating from the 10th century and an autograph manuscript of the Florentine Histories of Niccolò Machiavelli. Also in the library are housed the biblical manuscripts: Minuscule 368, 369, and 370.


Further readingEdit

  • Francesco Lumachi, Firenze - Nuova guida illustrata storica-artistica-anedottica della città e dintorni, Firenze, Società Editrice Fiorentina, 1929
  • Giovanna Lazzi, La Biblioteca Riccardiana di Firenze. L’ambiente, le collezioni, i servizi, Firenze, Polistampa, 2009


External linksEdit

Coordinates: 43°46′31.63″N 11°15′19.93″E / 43.7754528°N 11.2555361°E / 43.7754528; 11.2555361