The Chigi Saracini collection contains about 12,000 objects, in large part the property of the Fondazione Accademia Chigiana and of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena. These are paintings, sculptures, decorative objects, furniture, prints and engravings, ceramics, porcelain, home furnishings, antiques, costumes, medallions and coins. The collection is essentially divided into three principal cores: the first resulting from the taste for collecting manifested by Galgano Saracini, the second reflecting the romantic and academic erudition of his son Alessandro, and the third the patronage of Guido Chigi, focused more on the contemporary scene. From their earliest installation, the objects were placed in the ancient rooms, referred to as “drawing rooms,” some of which were adorned with Renaissance-style tapestries, elegant draperies at the windows, colored Venetian chandeliers, and painted floors. On the walls were hung works from various cultural areas: Florence, Lombardy, Rome, Venice.
Here can be seen interesting paintings by Bernardo Strozzi, Giorgio Vasari, Filippo Napoletano, and Francesco Furini, as well as outstanding Flemish still lifes. The picture gallery, which at the express desire of the academy’s founder are still today used as classrooms, is the most imposing and important core of the collection. The paintings, all by the Sienese school, are arranged on the walls one above the other as many as four high. The subjects range from genre scenes to sacred and religious images, historical and mythological scenes, portraits and self-portraits, with a special preference for Sienese artists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Altarpieces hang next to processional banners, sectioned tabernacles, crucifixes, birth salvers, coffin stands, backboards and headboards, exemplifying the encyclopedic functionality of art works. In keeping with the fashion of eighteenth-century picture galleries, the collection also includes inlaid furniture holding archeological finds, classical sculptures, antiquities, and Naturalia. Among the best-known works are The Adoration of the Magi by Stefano di Giovanni, known as Sassetta, Sano di Pietro, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Domenico Beccafumi, Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, known as Sodoma, Marco Pino, Andrea del Brescianino, Francesco Vanni, Alessandro Casolani, Rutilio Manetti, and Bernardino Mei. Especially interesting is the reconstruction of the studiolo, where along with ancient terracotta and Etruscan urns, small bronzes and chinoiserie, can be found mirabilia of every sort: meteorites, pieces of ruin marble, Masonite, carved onyx, and stuffed birds.