Monday, June 10, 2019

Florence's Stibbert Museum

"Choose Wisely" and visit
The Stibbert Museum!

Florence is known for its splendid treasuries of Renaissance art.  In contemporary Florence, as in Eliot's time, "the women come and go talking of Michelangelo".  But one must step away from the hordes swarming around the statue of David at the Academia or the glories of the Uffizzi in order to take in a curious gem in hidden Florence that most tourists miss.  One can visit the Stibbert Museum (

Frederick Stibbert
1838 - 1906
Frederick Stibbert was an eccentric collector who had a lifelong passion for knights in shining armor.  His father, Thomas Stibbert, was a Colonel in the Coldstream Guards.  This unit, founded in 1650, is the oldest regiment in the British Army that has been in continuous service.  Stibbert's grandfather amassed a fortune as the Governor of Bengal and commander in chief of the East India Company.   His mother, Giulia Stibbert née Cafaggi, was Italian and Frederick was born in Florence.  It was Giulia who, as the Colonel's young widow, purchased the original home in 1849.  Stibbert was himself an accomplished artist as well as being a determined collector.

Stibbert, like Winston Churchill, must have developed a lifelong love for toy soldiers as a boy.  His family fortune allowed him and opportunity to indulge his passion for soldiering and collecting militaria over many years.

Halberds, etc.
Stibbert's armory could equip a Wizard of Oz sequel with enough halberds for all the flying monkeys in the Wicked Witches army!

Islamic Warrior

Stibbert had catholic tastes, assembling an important collection of Japanese knights as well as western and Islamic soldiers.

Hall of the Cavalcade

The enormous Hall of the Cavalcade lies at the heart of the Stibbert Museum.  It features twelve mounted knights in double file with a mix of European and Islamic styles.   St. George, the patron saint of England, looks down on the armored equestrians.

St. George
Stibbert Museum
Stibbert's collection extended far beyond warfare including paintings and exquisite furniture.  The collection contains, for example, a Madonna and Child painted by Sandro Botticelli

Stibbert never married.  His family wealth allowed him to assemble a magnificent collection of armor, weapons and art. Stibbert died in 1906 and left his home / museum to the city of Florence which manages it to this day.

If you have a chance to visit Florence, break away from the ordinary and check out the astonishing Stibbert Museum (

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