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Pitti Palace

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Florence. Art gallery, originally built as a palace for Luca Pitti, a wealthy rival of the Medici. Construction work began in about 1457, so the traditional attribution of its design to Brunelleschi (who died in 1446) is unlikely; it has also been attributed to Alberti. The Pitti family had taken up residence by 1469, but their fortunes later declined and the building remained unfinished. In 1550 it was bought by Eleonora of Toledo, the wife of Cosimo de' Medici (later the first Grand Duke of Tuscany). It now became the main Medici residence and from 1560 it was enlarged by Ammanati. At about the same time the land around the building was developed into the Boboli Gardens. Most of the present vast structure dates from the 16th and 17th centuries, although additions continued to be made into the 19th century. The interior includes opulent decoration by Pietro da Cortona. After the Medici dynasty came to an end in the 18th century, the family collections became state property and the Pitti was opened as a public gallery in 1833. Among its treasures are about 500 paintings from the Medici collections, mainly from the 16th and 17th centuries; in quality they rival the masterpieces in its sister institution, the Uffizi. The Pitti also contains a good representation of Italian pictures of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, and collections of costume and of precious objects such as jewels, cameos, and ivories.

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