Architect and designer
Herbert Percy Horne was born in London in 1864, training as an architect and frequenting the artists and intellectuals of his age, including such leading lights as George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, John Ruskin and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
Horne showed remarkable artistic and literary gifts from an early age, emerging as a poet, graphic artist, critic and connoisseur of the arts.
All of his architectural works express a strong interest in the Italian Renaissance tradition, which he admired in particular for its balance and for its rigorous sense of proportion.
Horne and Italy
In the course of his first trip to Italy, in September and October 1889, Horne experienced such strong emotions that he felt a growing need to leave the sophisticated world of London society and to move to Florence for good, which he did in 1905, electing the city as his second home.
Making contact with the colony of foreign intellectuals resident in the Tuscan capital, he devoted his energies entirely to the study of Renaissance figurative culture, rapidly establishing himself as a distinguished scholar of Italian art, as well as a sophisticated collector. Of his numerous publications, his monograph on Sandro Botticelli published in 1908 holds a place of honour, its wealth of documentation making a valuable reference work even today.
To overcome his financial strictures, Horne began to work as an art consultant, forming lucrative ties with the European and American art markets.
Living in The Renaissance
He purchased the former Palazzo Corsi in Via de’ Benci in 1911, and developed a painstaking restoration plan with the aim of recreating the atmosphere and interior of a Renaissance town house by displaying his own collection in it.
Horne made his will on 12 April 2016, confirming that his Palazzo and his art collection go to the Italian state, and that a Foundation and a Museum dedicated to his memory be established there. Two days after he drafted his will, a violent attack of tuberculosis cut short his young life, preventing him from completing the layout of his precious collection in the Palazzo.