The Pietro Annigoni museum in the picturesque setting of Villa Bardini, Florence, is home to the largest collection of works of this much-loved 20th-century Italian artist.
Known as the “Painter of Queens”, Annigoni is famous for his portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, the Princess Margaret, the Queen Mother, Pope John XXIII, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the Duke of Edinburgh, Alcide De Gasperi, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Empress Farah, Margrethe II of Denmark and many noted society figures.
The gallery also houses work depicting ordinary Italians and sea and street scenes, ably displaying the breadth and depth of Annigoni’s talent.
The artist, who attended school in Milan, spent many hours in the Ambrosiana Library copying the drawing technique of Leonardo da Vinci before moving to Florence in 1925. There he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, before gaining his first solo exhibition in 1932 at the Perroni palace.
Annigoni painted in the classical oil tradition and he was famous for the use of tempura, even when modernism and postmodernism, with their freer techniques, became more prominent as the century progressed.
He was also a protagonist of the traditional art of fresco. His work includes the rebuilt basilica of the Abbey of Montecassino, and in Florence, the convent of San Marco, and work on the facade of the palace of Misericordia in Piazza del Duomo, in front of Giotto’s bell tower.