Back on the ground floor, the exhibition continues with artworks from the Counter-Reformation to the 17th and 18th century. Along the stairs, a showcase holding locally-produced ceramic items dating back to the 16th and 17th century. The first room houses the large altarpieces painted from the second half of the 16th century by several foreign artists who came to work in Lucca; among them are Domenico Cresti, known as Passignano, and Federico Zuccari ("Christ giving the keys to St. Peter”), whose paintings were originally located in the church of San Pietro Maggiore, demolished in 1806 during the princedom of Elisa Baciocchi. Also worth mentioning is the "Baptism of Christ" by Jacopo Ligozzi, “Christ healing the cripple” by Giovan Battista Paggi and Cigoli’s “Adoration of the Magi”. Particularly interesting is the "Allegory of Luccan Freedom" by Paolo Guidotti, a Lucca-born artist who subsequently moved to Rome where he worked for the powerful cardinal Scipione Borghese; it is a very singular painting with an unusual subject matter, full of references to local history and traditions. The painting was commissioned to Guidotti, known as “Cavalier Borghese”, by the elders of Lucca in 1611; he depicted the city as a rich dame, strenuously defended by its patron saints against the representatives of the oligarchy and the workers’ guilds.
The hallway leading to the following room holds some late-17th-century religious silverware: finely chiselled ampullae, goblets, monstrances and an incense-boat by Giovanni Vambré, an important goldsmith of Flemish origin.
The following room leads us to the Baroque period, with the works of two important foreign artists who worked in town: Giovanni Lanfranco, author of the “Martyrdom of St. Lawrence”, and Guido Reni who, at an early age, painted the Christ crucified between saints Catherine of Alexandria and Julius" for the church of Santa Maria Corteorlandini. Next to them are two paintings and a sketch by Paolo Biancucci, a leading exponent of the Luccan school, influenced by Emilian art. The following room provides an exhaustive overview of the work of the most important 17th-century Luccan painter, Pietro Paolini: his "Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew" and the “Martyrdom of St. Pontian” were both made for the church of San Ponziano when Paolini came back to Lucca in 1628; the Nativity of St. John the Baptist dates back to 1636; also exhibited are the “Madonna and Child” and the “Madonna of the Rosary”. The influence Caravaggio’s art had on Paolini during the latter’s stay in Rome is clear in the sharp and involving chiaroscuro that characterizes these paintings; also by Paolini, in the following room, the monumental "Banquet of St. Gregory the Great" made for the convent of San Frediano, whose compositional structure is influenced by Veronese.
Lucca-born Girolamo Scaglia (mid 17th century) was an elegant artist who painted the “Martyrdom of St. Pier Toma” and the two portraits of St. Mary Magdalene and St. Catherine of Alexandria. The same room houses two works (“St. Theresa” and an "Announciation") by Antonio Franchi, an excellent painter who became the official portraitist of the Medici court in Florence. Next to them are paintings by Giovanni Marracci which, together with Franchi’s “Announciation”, come from the monastery of Santa Maria di Fregionaia in Maggiano. The exhibition continues with other works by Luccan painters Giovanni Coli and Filippo Gherardi, and by Viterbo-born artist Francesco Romanelli.
The last room of the museum houses the 18th-century works of Giovan Domenico Lombardi, an elegant artist who is likely to have been Pompeo Batoni’s master; the latter is the author of the "Ecstasy of St. Catherine", a 1743 masterpiece, and of the "Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew" (1749), two paintings whose latent classicism prefigures Neoclassicism.
Together with the “Portrait of the Archbishop Mansi” in the Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Mansi, these are Batoni’s only remaining works owned by public institutions in Lucca. Batoni, the most celebrated Italian painter of the second half of the 18th century, renowned all over Europe for his refined portraits of the noblemen who visited his Roman studio during their Grand Tours, acts as a link between the collections of Villa Guinigi and those of Palazzo Mansi where, in the new rooms on the second floor, the thread of Luccan art is taken up starting with Batoni and ending with the first half of the 20th century.