The twenty tapestries of the Stories of Joseph, commissioned by the Duke Cosimo I de 'Medici and woven between 1545 and 1553 after the design of three of the greatest artists of the mid-16th century: Agnolo Bronzino, Jacopo Pontormo and Francesco Salviati, returned to Florence in Palazzo Vecchio. From 26 February 2019 to 29 August 2021, they are exhibited in rotation in five exhibition cycles.
The magnificent series originally adorned the Sala dei Duecento in the Palazzo Vecchio, the ancient council chamber of the city. Between 1865 and 1871, when Florence was the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, the series was divided in two: ten of the twenty tapestries became part of the royal patrimony. These were sent to the Quirinale Palace in Rome and subsequently passed on the Presidency of the Republic. The other ten remained in Florence, under the custodianship of the state's "Galleries" of the city. In 1872 they were given to the Municipality that had recently taken office in the Palazzo Vecchio.
For the first time after a century and a half, the series was finally brought together again during the itinerant exhibition Il Principe dei Sogni. Le Storie di Giuseppe negli arazzi di Pontormo and Bronzino, organized on the occasion of Expo 2015. During the exhibition they were taken successively to three representative locations: the Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome, the Palazzo Reale in Milan and finally in the Palazzo Vecchio in the same room for which it was woven: the Sala dei Duecgento.
Once the exhibition over, the hall was again used to host the meetings of the city council, but with new furnishings and installations. These were specially designed to make possible an ideal coexistence between its original institutional function of the early 16th century and the exhibition of the monumental tapestries that once richly adorned the walls.
Today, thanks to a special agreement between the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, and the Municipality of Florence, the Sala dei Duecento becomes part of the itinerary to visit the palace on the days when it does not host council meetings. The public can now admire the precious tapestries, once again united and exhibited in the Palazzo Vecchio in absolute respect for the particular conservative needs of this kind of artefacts.