by Emilee Perdue | September 27, 2023

Go Beyond the Medici Era at the Rollins Museum of Art

Take a trip across oceans and time to the Florentine baroque period to experience Beyond the Medici: The Haukohl Family Collection at the Rollins Museum of Art in Winter Park.

Giovan Domenico Ferretti (Italian 1962–1768), Harlequin and His Lady, c. 1745, oil on canvas, 23 5/16 x 19 31/64 in., Haukohl Collection. Photo Credit: MNHA/Tom Lucas.

When standing in front of Harlequin and His Lady by Giovanni Domenico Ferretti, you can almost hear the lively staccato of a lute, smell a freshly roasted pheasant and feel your feet start to dance the corrente. The whirl of whimsical colors, the supple curve of rosy cheeks, the painted balance of light and darkness—each piece in the Beyond the Medici: The Haukohl Family Collection at the Rollins Museum of Art whisks viewers across seas and centuries to the 1600s in Florence, Italy, where the Medici dukedom reigned. The affluent banking family commissioned painters and sculptors from around the globe to make a pilgrimage to Florence and create some of the most influential pieces of the era. Luckily, thanks to the generosity of Sir Mark Haukohl—who comes from a long line of collectors—residents of Winter Park have the rare opportunity to experience this transatlantic adventure through time and culture. 

17th Century Florentine Sculpture, Saint Michael Archangel, mid 17th century, Polychrome wood, 25 15/64 x 18 57/64 x 11 1/2 in., Haukohl Collection. Photo Credit: MNHA/Tom Lucas.

The portraits, narratives and sculptures comprised in the collection straddle the line between religious devotion and sensual exploration, often depicting divine interactions through a gilded, dreamlike lens. An epitome of the baroque style, The Annunciation to the Immaculate Virgin by Alessandro Gherardini, is a detailed oil painting of the Virgin Mary’s encounter with the archangel Gabriel. The sky swirls around God the Father and other flying angels, its vertex creating a sense of juxtaposition and intimacy between Mary and Gabriel, who are seemingly frozen in the moment. In Saint Michael the Archangel, created by an anonymous sculptor from north-central Italy, a polychrome wooden archangel Michael, known as God’s warrior, passes between the boundaries of movement and restraint, of violence and glamour. The sculpture—whose colors remain intact, a rarity for a piece from the 17th century—is dressed for battle, with detailed garments blowing in the wind and wings set to soar. However, Michael’s soft body is posed to dance, his feet light and arms up, ready to twirl in carefree joy. 

We look at art not just as art, but as a window into the society that created it. —Ena Heller

According to Ena Heller, Ph.D. and museum director, this tension between youthful beauty and harsh strength is a theme that connects the exhibition. The Florentine baroque period is filled with diverse influences showing both soft grace and cosmic force, a product of a quickly changing society. As a teaching museum, the RMA considers it important for gallerygoers to see more than the painting before them. “We look at art not just as art,” Heller said, “but as a window into the society that created it.” 

Alessandro Gherardini (Italian, 1655–1726), The Annunciation to the Immaculate Virigin, oil on canvas, 13 x 31 x 24 1/64 in., Haukohl Collection. Photo Credt: MNHA/Tom Lucas.

Beyond the Medici: The Haukohl Family Collection will be open to the public from Sept. 9, 2023, through Jan. 7, 2024, at the Rollins Museum of Art. Catch a brief glimpse of what life was like in the 17th century and hopefully walk away with a better understanding of the world around you. “Not only for the history of art, but for history in general, it informs our present moment,” Heller said. “Understanding our history, and other people’s history, makes us so much richer because it gives us a bigger context of the world around us.” For more information on the exhibit, visit