On the 31st of October, 1737, a very important fact for Florence and its future takes place, an event whose consequences are still effective; on that date an agreement takes place between Francesco Stefano di Lorena, husband of Empress Maria Teresa d’Austria, and Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, Electress Palatine.
Through this agreement, Anna Maria Luisa, offers all the art collections of her family to the new Grand Duke as long as they remain bounded forever to Florence and Tuscany. In fact when it becomes clear that Gian Gastone, the last Medici Grand Duke, had no heirs, the European powers agree to entrust to the Lorraine side of the Habsburg dynasty, the government of Tuscany. Not being able to oppose the transfer of the Grand Duchy to the Lorraine, Anna Maria Luisa, aided by her ministers, sought to negotiate the best deal, in order to secure the future of the state. Among other concerns, was that to ensure the protection of the artistic and historical heritage of the city that was now in danger of being sold to remedy the large Austrians war debts.
The third article of the agreement stipulates: “The most serene Electress, gives and transfers the hereby present to the S.A.R. for him and his Grand Duke successors, all furniture, effects and rarity of his Serene Gran Duca her brother, such as galleries, paintings, statues, libraries, jewelry and other precious things, as well as the holy relics, which S.A.R. agrees to keep in good condition for the State, for the use of public and in order to attract the curiosity of foreigners, and nothing shall be transported or taken out of the Capital and the State of the Grand Duchy”. The concerns of the Electress were founded, because immediately after, the Lorena’s, began to disperse everything that was not explicitly mentioned in the document. Anna Maria Luisa was still alive when the tools from the Medici kitchen, the furniture (some solid silver), linen, fine armory and silverware were being sold. With the death of the Electress, contrary to the agreement, begins an unstoppable dispersion.
For example, the jewels were taken to Vienna and sold, only some of them returning to Italy after World War I. Not only the Lorena’s go against the Pact, but during the Napoleonic period, an important part of the collection is taken to Paris, a group of works that will not return to Florence for the entire Restoration period. Even more, under the Savoia, artwork and furnishings are used to decorate the halls of power in Rome, foreign embassies and other buildings belonging to the Italian state; some of those pieces can still be found in those locations today, others being destroyed during World War II. One should wonder what would Anna Maria Luisa say about all of this; she whom has left us during the night of the 17th to the 18th of February 1743, and along with her death has come to effect the “Family Pact” to which we owe so much.