Friends of Florence Finance Horne Restoration

Friends of Florence

Bartolomeo della Gatta’s painting, San Rocco, 1485, recently received a makeover, and it’s been long overdue. The board the work is painted on is long and narrow, and pointed at the top, reminiscent of High Gothic artworks. It portrays Saint Roch, the patron saint of pilgrims, gazing skyward with an absent expression. In accordance with Renaissance style, his realistic depiction fills the frame as the predominant figure. A miniature angel flits overhead in the right hand corner. 

Its home is the Museo Horne (via de’ Benci 6), a museum that displays the contents of English scholar Herbert Horne’s valuable art collection. Horne (1864 – 1916), poet, art historian, and architect, spent much of his life in Florence. He appreciated and studied the artistic and cultural treasures of the city, and was an especially big fan of Sandro Botticelli. The Museo Horne seeks not only to showcase the scholar’s extensive amassment of art, but to promote accessibility and education.

When Herbert Horne acquired della Gatta’s San Rocco in 1909 for his personal collection, he noted that it was in poor condition. By 2019, the painting, now in the hands of the Museo Horne, had worsened, as the bad health of the wood had begun to affect its surface and color. 

At this point, the Friends of Florence foundation decided to step onto the scene, and have the work restored. 

The Friends of Florence was founded in 1998, with the goal of raising and providing the funds necessary to restore and protect priceless works of art in the city, both from the relentless passage of time and the detriments of overexposure to global tourism. The essence of the nonprofit organization is a profound appreciation for and value of Florence’s inestimable artistic endowment. 

The group decided to take on this particular project for a reason: in the words of Simonetta Brandolini d’Adda, President, the Museo Horne’s values align with those of the foundation — while he was alive, Horne’s vision involved a desire to bring art and culture to other’s lives in an accessible manner. Mr. Claudio Paolini, art historian present at the unveiling of the restoration of San Rocco, stated that in Florence, museums are not extremely visitor-friendly, especially for residents of Florence themselves, as a result of mass tourism. The Museo Horne works to mitigate that, as Herbert Horne would have wanted, in the same spirit that the Friends of Florence tries to increase public understanding and appreciation for the arts. 

Although the museum strives to be accessible in its content and otherwise, please note that only the first floor is so when it comes to wheelchairs. Tickets cost 7 € (there is a discount for students, seniors, etc). On every day except for Wednesday, the museum is open from 10 am to 2 pm. More information can be found here. (emma hempstead)