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Medici Women

Medici Women: Portraits of Power, Love, and Betrayal in the Court of Duke Cosimo I

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 480
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  • Book Info
    Medici Women
    Book Description:

    Lavishly illustrated,Medici Women: Portraits of Power, Love and Betrayal in the Court of Duke Cosimo Iis an indispensable work for anyone with a passion for Italian renaissance history, art, and court culture.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8456-0
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-22)

    One of the signal events in the ill-starred life of Maria deʹ Medici (1573–1642), Queen of France, is enshrined in Rubensʹs monumental panelThe Presentation of the Portrait, in which her portrait is ardently received by her future husband, Henry IV, in 1600 (fig. 1).² The portrait was one of several Marias sent to familiarize the reluctant Henry with his future queen. Now lost, it was painted in Florence at the court of her uncle, Grand Duke Ferdinando I. Luckily, when they were finally united, Henry professed that Maria ʹsurpassed in beauty all the portraits that had been sent...

  6. Plates
    (pp. None)
  7. 1 Bloodlines: Portraits of Maria Salviati deʹ Medici by Bronzino and Pontormo
    (pp. 23-58)

    In hisVite, Vasari indicated that the first Medici woman to have been portrayed by ducal commission was Maria Salviati, Cosimoʹs mother.¹ Maria, grandaughter of Lorenzo the Magnificent through Lucrezia deʹ Medici and Jacopo Salviati, was born in 1499. In November 1516 she married Giovanni delle Bande Nere, son of Giovanni il Popolano and Caterina Sforza. This union joined the two branches of the Medici line in their only child, Cosimo, born in 1519 (see appendix A). Giovanni, a legendarycondottiereand close companion of the raffish man of letters, notorious wit, and ʹscourge of princesʹ Pietro Aretino, died of...

  8. Figures
    (pp. None)
  9. 2 Declarations of Dynasty: The State Portrait of Eleonora di Toledo
    (pp. 59-97)

    When Eleonora became Regent of State in 1541, it was not a position the young Spanish duchess could assume lightly. On Cosimoʹs departure for Genoa, her donation for prayers of 27 August 1541 to S. Pietro in Pistoia recorded her hope that ʹshe could obtain that wisdom and inspiration necessary so as not to fall into errors.ʹ Two days later, Major-domo Pierfrancesco Riccio reported to Cosimoʹs secretary, Grifoni, on her progress: ʹThe City (thank God) is calm … The Duchess … passes time with business … and during this morning with four bishops and other prelates with her, she said,...

  10. 3 ʹThese tender and well-born plantsʹ: Young Daughters and Wards of Cosimo and Eleonora
    (pp. 98-120)

    Glimpses into the early childhood years of Eleonora and Cosimoʹs children suggest that, before their parents embarked on an intensive regimen to tutor them as young princes and princesses, moments of exhuberant delight lightened their daily round. The court retainer Lorenzo Pagni reported from the Villa Medici at Petraia on 2 November 1544 that the Duke and his young children were entertained by the beloved court jester, Morgante, who, assisted by his owl, had been catching birds in the boxwood trees beside the labyrinth.¹ The ducal nursery by now included Maria, four; Francesco, three; Isabella, two; Giovanni, fourteen months; and...

  11. Figures
    (pp. None)
  12. 4 A ʹMediciʹ Papacy and a Counter-Reformation in Portraiture: Alloriʹs Giulia dʹAlessandro deʹ Medici
    (pp. 121-136)

    Three years after the portrait series of Maria and her brothers was executed at Pisa in 1551, Bronzinoʹs chief workshop assistant, Alessandro Allori (1535–1607), left Florence for Rome for five yearsʹ training, from 1554 to 1560. Bronzino had been his guardian – indeed, a surrogate father to him – and in court circles Alessandroʹs sojourn was perceived as the capstone to the artistic career for which Bronzino had groomed him. In Benedetto Varchiʹs poetic tribute on the occasion, Bronzino is cast as Apelles and play made on Alloriʹs first name as Alexander the Great. Varchi implies that Alloriʹs artistic...

  13. 5 The New Medicean Cosmos: Lucrezia deʹ Medici, Duchess of Ferrara
    (pp. 137-145)

    Politically, Cosimo and Eleonora could revel in the extraordinarily rapid ascent they had secured by 1560. Privately, however, harrowing family losses were to mark the new decade. Iron-clad alliances were forged when Isabella married the Orsini scion, Paolo Giordano, in June 1558, and when Lucrezia married Alfonso dʹEste in July 1558 as Mariaʹs replacement. With hindsight, however, Mariaʹs untimely end in 1557 stands as a fateful signal of severe buffeting within the family over the next twenty years that would erode the preordained roles planned for Medici daughters to further ducal ambitions.

    The dukeʹs longstanding favour with the Hapsburgs was...

  14. Figures
    (pp. None)
  15. 6 Damnatio Memoriae: Isabella deʹ Medici Orsini, ʹLa stella di casa Mediciʹ
    (pp. 146-170)

    The contrast between the gifted Isabella and the unfortunate Lucrezia could scarcely be greater. As a child she excelled intellectually, was versed in Virgil and Homer, and was vivacious to a fault. Among ducal daughters her future was essentially bound up in territorial acquisition and the consolidation of power when she was formally betrothed to Paolo Giordano Orsini on 11 July 1553. She was then almost eleven.³ Paolo was scion of one of the mightiest baronies in Italy: based in Rome, it counted several popes, statesmen, and renownedcondottierito its credit. The Orsini were allied with Venice, had been...

  16. 7 Up Close and Personal: Patronage and the Miniature Eleonora (ʹDianoraʹ) di Toledo deʹ Medici
    (pp. 171-193)

    If Isabellaʹs life has been overlaid with myth and notoriety, the tragically brief life of her cousin and sister-in-law, a second Eleonora di Toledo, has been virtually ignored by biographers for a century.² Yet, her entire life was spent at the Medici court, and portraits of her are not unknown.³ Emphasis in this chapter will be on the exceptionally fine Florentine miniature in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Madrid, bearing a portrait of a beautiful young woman on its face backed by a detailed allegory of Juno in her role as Protectress of Brides on its reverse (pls. 14 and 15). Its...

  17. Epilogue
    (pp. 194-198)

    Still annually celebrating his successful deliverance from ʹthe stone,ʹ the energetic Samuel Pepys, His Majesty Charles IIʹs rising naval personality, lapsed into unaccustomed disgruntlement on 4 October 1661. On his return to Hart Street, he confided in his diary that he had never had so little pleasure in his life as at the theatre that evening. Arriving late to an almost full house, he had been badly placed to view a performance ofThe White Devil; or the Life and Death of Victoria Corombona(1612), John Websterʹs dramatized version of events surrounding the infamous murder of Isabella deʹ Medici, Duchess...

  18. Appendices
    (pp. 199-208)
  19. Terminology and Abbreviations
    (pp. 209-210)
  20. Notes
    (pp. 211-310)
  21. Bibliography
    (pp. 311-348)
  22. Photograph Credits
    (pp. 349-350)
  23. Index
    (pp. 351-372)