The house was purchased by Napoleon in June 1814, to make it his summer residence, and it remained empty due to his departure from Elba. It was later purchased by Prince Anatolio Demidoff (a Bonaparte heir by marriage) who, after having the large neo-Classical Gallery built that was named after him, then forgot about the original idea of creating a Napoleonic museum there. It still has furniture from the period in the frescoed halls (including the so-called “Egyptian Hall”) and, in the gallery a collection of nineteenth-century Napoleonic prints.
"A little after arriving on the island, Napoleon purchased some properties from the Manganaro family, a few kilometres from Palazzina dei Mulini, including a rustic country house, with the intention of turning it into a comfortable, refined home, in line with Parisian homes. Work continued rapidly and included the extension of the building, renovation of the façade, the creation of an airy hanging garden overlooking the Portoferraio harbour, and the interior decoration, given over to the Piedmont painter Antonio Vincenzo Revelli. After he hurriedly fled from Elba and the well known epilogue of Napoleon’s story, Villa San Martino was inherited by the emperor’s heirs until, in 1856, it was purchased by the Russian aristocrat Anatolio Demidoff, a big art collector and above all a tireless admirer of Napoleon's feats. Demidoff did not just reorganise the villa, but also planned to build a large museum for the large number of Napoleonic mementoes he had collected; he ordered the building of a gallery for this purpose that still carries his name. The large collection of prints kept in the museum came from the merging of two separate collection: the Turini-De Micheli collection, purchased from the State in 1985, and the Olschki, donated to the nation by Aldo, the son of Leo Samuele Olschki, founder of the famous publishing company. The former collection, formed in Rome by Guglielmo Turini, comprises 230 engravings of Napoleonic history and 12 plates decorated with images of Napoleonic iconography. It includes engravings, lithographies and etchings. There are several portraits of Napoleon, in his general's and emperor's uniform and also of his family members, in particular his wife Josephine. There are some unusual scenes from his private life, where the great politician is captured playing with his children. There are also portraits of the officers in the Grande Armée and paintings of the main battles, but there are also satirical and anecdotal images, coming from countries of the anti-Napoleon coalition, where the general was harshly attacked and ridiculed."
Source: Polo museale della Toscana