Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici
Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici (Florence, 11 July 1667 - 18 February 1743) was the last descendant of the Medici house. The only daughter of Grand Duke Cosimo III and Princess Marguerite Luise d'Orléans, in 1690 she became the second wife of Johann Carl Wilhelm I, Prince Elector of the Palatinate. In 1691 Anna Maria Luisa left for Düsseldorf, capital of the Palatinate; the wedding with the Elector was celebrated in Innsbruck. In 1716, after a childless marriage and after the death of her husband, Anna Maria Luisa returned to Florence.
The Electress of the Palatinate at Villa La Quiete
Upon her return she became a frequent visitor to the Villa. This interest materialized in 1716 with the assumption by the Princess of that patronage that was handed down within the ruling family. The protection of the Electress of the Palatinate had among the most evident results the definitive architectural evolution of La Quiete in a real villa on the style of the other Medici villas, among which that of Petraia and Castello. In this process the definition of the garden takes on fundamental importance. Starting from 1720 a project of restructuring of Villa La Quiete and of the surrounding land took shape. In 1720 the construction of the new wing destined for the Novitiate was started, which in 1723 was appointed the apartment of Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici, after the Princess's decision to stay for longer periods at the Villa. Under the protection of Anna Maria Luisa more than eighty religious paintings and sculptures were brought to Villa La Quiete, with works from some of the most active artists in Florence at that time.
The "Family Pact"
With the death of Cosimo III the Tuscan throne passed to the Franco-Austrian family of the Habsburg-Lorraine. After the death of her brother Gian Gastone, in 1737, Anna Maria Luisa remained the last descendant of the Medici dinasty. This was precisely the moment when she carried out the gesture that made the fortune of Florence, that is the stipulation with the new ruling dynasty of the so-called "Family Pact", which established that the Lorraine could not transport "or get out of the capital and State of the Grand Duchy ... Galleries, Paintings, Statues, Libraries, Jewels and other precious things ... of the succession of the Most Serene Grand Duke, so that they would remain by ornament of the State, for the benefit of the public and to attract the curiosity of foreign visitors."
With this pact, Anna Maria Luisa made sure that Florence kept the majority of the works of art that were part of the Medici patrimony and therefore did not suffer the fate of other art cities which, once their ruling families were extinct or moved away, were literally being emptied of their artistic and cultural treasures.