Here exhibited are the 83 artworks donated to the city in 1847 by grand duke Pietro Leopoldo II after the annexion of Lucca to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
The paintings come from the possessions of the Medici and the Lorena, and were meant to repay the Luccans for the loss of their artistic heritage caused by Charles Louis of Bourbon dissipating the rich palatine collections. The gallery provides a remarkable sampling of the Italian and Flemish painting schools from the 16th to the 18th century.
The present arrangement has the paintings displayed on several planes, so as to create a new “quadreria” in the four rooms that Raffaello Mansi Orsetti had already used, between the 19th and the 20th century, to exhibit the now-lost family collection.
The first room holds some large paintings. Worth mentioning are two exquisite works of the Sienese school: Scipio’s temperance by Donmenico Beccafumi (1486 – 1551) and the Triumph of David by Rutilio Manetti (1571 – 1639). From the Florentine milieu come Tobiolus and the angel by Jacopo Vignali (1592 – 1664) and the intriguing Circe by Francesco Furini (1603 – 1650), while the Neapolitan school is represented by a dramatic Martyrdom of St. Sebastian by Luca Giordano (1634 - 1705).
The second room is called “of the Medicis” because it mostly displays portraits of the members of the grand-ducal Tuscan family. Among them is the most famous painting in the whole collection, the Portrait of a young man by Pontormo (1525), one of the leading exponents of the early Florentine mannerism. Also displayed in this room are Don Garzia dei Medici as a child by Bronzino (Florence 1502-1572), who is also the author of the solemn Cosimo I in armour, and Maria Vittoria della Rovere with her son Cosimo III, by Flemish painter Justus Suttermans (1597 – 1671).
More portraits are housed in the third room, together with some small-sized, mainly religious-themed paintings. Exhibited here are the Portait of a man by Tintoretto and the Madonna with Child by Francesco Avanzi, a late-16th-century Milanese artist clearly inspired by Leonardo. Also on display, a 16th-century copy of the Madonna with Child, St. Anne and Young St. John by Andrea del Sarto and a Christ bearing the Cross ascribed to Beccafumi.
The fourth and final room houses Flemish paintings, including the sharply described, lively Villages by Paul Bril (Antwerp 1554 – Rome 1626) on copper. The larger Battle by French artist Jacques Courtois, known as Borgognone (1621 – 1676), is next to a similarly-themed painting by German artist Philipp Peter Roos, known as Rosa da Tivoli (around 1655 – 1706), and to some works by the “Bamboccianti”, painters who depicted popular, everyday-life scenes, drawing their inspiration from Pietre van Laer, also known as Bamboccio, who stayed in Rome in the 1620s and 30s. Also worth mentioning is a small, intense Landscape with mill by a lesser-known yet interesting painter, Filippo Napoletano (1587 – 1629).