The Gallery takes its name from the fact that it is located in the palace of the reigning family and was opened to the pubblic by the House of Lorraine in 1828.
Even today it still preserves the typical layout of a private collection, with a sumptuous combination of lavish interior decoration and the original rich picture frames.
Unlike most of the museums reorganised in recent times, the Palatine Gallery does not follow a chronological order nor schools of paintings, revealing instead the lavishness and personal taste of the inhabitants of the palace. The rooms that house the gallery can be entered from the staircase erected by Ammannati. At the time of the Medici, these rooms formed the apartments of the Grand Duke and his audience rooms. They are partially frescoed by Pietro da Cortona (1596-1669) with an imposing decorative cycle that makes use of classical myth to allude to the Life and education of the Prince. This complex of frescoes and stuccoes, perhaps the most representative example of Florentine Baroque, provides a splendid framework for the displayed works ranging from the 16th to the 17th centuries.
One of the most significant groups of works of the collection is formed by the works of Titian and Raphael, which were received by the Medici through the will of Vittoria della Rovere, the last daughter of the Dukes ol Urbino and wife of Ferdinando II de' Medici. It is sufficient to remember the Portrait of a gentleman and Magdalene by Titian and the Madonna of the Grand Duke, the Madonna of tha Chair and the portrait of Maddalena Doni by Raphael.
The Gallery also offers a full view of 17th century European painting, displaying very famous works like the paintings of Rubens (The four Philosophers,The Allegory of war), the portrait of Cardinal Bentivoglio by Van Dyck, the portraits by Giusto Sustermans, which portray some of the personalities of the grand ducal family, the Madonna with Child by Murillo, the Sleeping Cupid by Caravaggio, and other portraits by Frans Pourbus or Velazquez. There are also older works, all very exceptional, painted by Bronzino, Fra Bartolomeo, Piero del Pollaiolo and Filippo Lippi.
Some of the most important rooms, from an historical and artistic point of view, are the Music Room decorated and furnished in a neo-classic style; the Putti room entirely dedicated to Flemish painting and the Stove room, a masterpiece by Pietro da Cortona who painted it in 1637 with the Four Ages of Man, commissioned by the Medici, which represented the inauguration of the Baroque season for the Florentine painting school.