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Overview of Paradoxplace Florence pages

Artists of the Italian Renaissance

The Early (Renaissance) Medicis in the Glorious 1400s

The Medici Popes Leo X and Clement VII

The Medici Queens of France Caterina and Maria

About Paradoxplace

 

The Medici Family - 2

Grand Dukes of the Cadet Branch

and their Women - 1530s to 1743

 

 

Back to the more interesting early Medicis

The Medici Popes        The Medici Queens of France

The Sassetti Chapel - Lorenzo & Sons

The Chapel of the Magi - the whole early Medici Family

         Bianca Capello

Link to "Medicis take over Siena"

The Court Portrait Painters:  Bronzino, dell'Altissimo, Sustermans

Cosimo I

1519-  1574 (55)

Francesco I, son of Cosimo I (and Bianca Capello)

1541 - 1587 (46)

Ferdinando I, brother of Francesco I

1549 - 1609 (60)

Cosimo II, son of Ferdinando I

1590 - 1621 (31)

Ferdinando II, son of Cosimo II

1610 - 1670 (60)

Cosimo III, son of Ferdinando II

1642 - 1723 (81)

Gian Gastone, son of Cosimo III

1671 - 1737 (66)

The Last of the Medicis

Anna Maria Luisa, sister of Gian Gastone

1667 - 1743 (76)

 

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LINK TO MORE BOOKS ON THE MEDICI AND THE CAPELLA DEI MAGI

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cosimo I de'Medici 1519 - 1574 (55)

Duke of Tuscany 1537 (aged 18)

Grand Duke of Tuscany 1569 (aged 50)

 

Cosimo I was the great great grandson of another Lorenzo (1395 - 1440 (45)) - the younger brother of Cosimo il Vecchio and thus a member of the so called "cadet" side of the family.

 

Plucked from complete obscurity by powerbrokers desperate to free themselves of the legacies of the last disastrous members of the senior Medici dynasty, and to cope with Florence's domination by Emperor Charles V, Cosimo proved a surprising success even if he was pompous, a control freak and noveau riche.  By comparison with most of the Grand Dukes to follow, he was a god!

 

The portrait by L.Cigole is held by the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, dep Galleria degli Uffizi.

 

 

Cellini (1500-1571 (71)) sculptured this magnificent bust (now in the Bargello) of Cosimo I de'Medici (1519-1574 (55), Duke of Tuscany from 1537, Grand Duke 1569), in his Marcus Aurelius dressing up kit plus a bit more hair than he possessed in real life.

 

Cosimo I was the great great grandson of Cosimo the Elder's brother (founder of the hitherto extremely obscure cadet side of the family).  He became the first Duke (then Grand Duke) of Tuscany, and with the protection of the Emperor Charles V took over Siena in 1557 (link to "The Medici take over Siena") and everything else around .  He even gave Tuscany a Navy.  But by this time Italy was the jousting ground of Charles and Flashy King Francis I of France, and the City States were no longer free to do their own thing. 

 

Florence the glorious City State and leader of the Renaissance had had her day in the sun.

 

Cosimo did, however, keep up the family tradition of artistic support - mainly coordinated through his spin doctor and architect Giorgio Vasari (who also painted and wrote books).  In fact much of what you read about Renaissance artists is based on Vasari's books "Lives of the Artists"

 

 

Eleonora of Toledo (1522-1562 (40)), by Agnolo Bronzino (exhibited in the Uffizi).   Cosimo I's wife, aristocrat daughter of the Spanish Ambassador to the Kingdom of Naples (i.e. the power behind the throne of Naples).  Eleonora was an extremely wealthy woman in her own right and a shrewd investor - and also probably a bit bored with provincial Florence after court life in Naples, which then had a population of over 300,000.  It was her money that bought and extended Brunelleschi's Pitti Palace.

 

She died at the early age of 40, after contracting malaria whilst on holiday with the kids by the sea on the West coast of Tuscany. 

 

Eleonora used to hold get togethers of other Spanish expats in the enormous old Chapter House of the Santa Maria Novella convent, which is why it is known as the Spanish Chapel (Capella Spagnola).  She also had a very beautiful little chapel built in the Palazzo Vecchio which can be seen as part of the tour of the Vasari Corridor.

 

 

Cosimo I and Eleonora captured by Agnolo Bronzino in more workaday gear.

 

 

THE PORTRAIT PAINTERS / COPIERS

 

Agnolo Bronzino (1503 - 1572 (69))

Cristofano dell'Altissimo (c1530 - 1605 (75))

Justus Sustermans (1597 - 1681 (84))

 

Agnolo Bronzino was a pupil (and adopted son) of the famous mannerist painter Pontormo.  He became Cosimo I's court portraitist.

 

 

 

Cristofano dell'Altissimo was one of Bronzino's more promising pupils who went on to be a successful artist in his own right.

 

Justus Sustermans came from Antwerp and settled in Florence, becoming the Medici Court Painter.  He is responsible for many of the portraits of the later Medici as well as their friends such as Galileo Galilei.

 

 

The Paolo Giovio (1483 - 1552 (69)) Portrait Collection

 

Paolo Giovio, physician, historian and biographer, collected portraits of the famous (including the Medici) in his house on Lake Como until his death in 1552.  Duke Cosimo I, fearing (correctly) that the collection would be broken up and lost after Paolo's death, had dell'Altissimo and sometimes Bronzino himself copy all the portraits, using a uniform format.  Dell'Altissimo managed to keep working at this right through to 1589.

 

That is why many of the portraits to do with the earlier Medici and their contemporaries have a common format and are signed "Cristofano dell'Altissimo" or "Agnolo Bronzino".  Mostly the originals are not known.  The portrait copies in the Giovio Series number 484, and many of them are hung unlit and unnoticed in the first corridor of the Uffizi - unnoticed because they are propped up against the corridor walls on a high picture ledge (just under the grotesque ceiling).  Francesco I continued the tradition with the Aulic series, to be found in the second and third corridors.

 

Link to Artists of the Italian Renaissance

 

 

 

See Bianca's Venetian home.

 

Francesco I (1541 - 1587 (46)), Bianca Capello and another Medici Queen of France

 

Melancholic alchemist, formally married to (Habsburg) Joan of Austria, but really the lifetime soulmate and bedmate of Venetian beauty Bianca Capello (above in medal and flesh (Uffizi Gallery)), whom he married after he had organized the murder of Bianca's hubby, and Joan had died of natural causes. 

 

Bianca was hated by the Medici clan generally and Francesco's brother and successor Ferdinando in particular.  She died within days of Francesco and her body was removed that night to an unknown destiny.  Ironic that this touching story of real love was treated thus,  when you see what a monstrous mess several of the rest of the clan made of selecting their wives.

 

Today Bianca has to some extent got her own back because, apart from Eleonora di Toledo, she is the only one of the Medici wives who is remembered with interest (or at all)!  Her name is also consistently in the top search strings for Paradoxplace.  Her portrait (above) can be seen in the Medici Room of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

 

Francesco and Joan's daughter Maria (1573 - 1642 (69)) followed in the footsteps of Catherine to France by becoming the Queen Consort of first Bourbon French King Henry IV, and then Queen Regent for their son Louis XIII (1601- 1643 (42)) when Henry was assassinated.  After getting even with Henry's mistresses and various courtiers, and advised by the "unscrupulous" Italian Concino Concini and later the emergingly famous Cardinal Richelieu (1585 - 1642 (57)), Maria managed to dissipate the healthy coffers left by Henry and overstay her regency to 1617 - 3 years beyond its due date. 

 

Then son Louis took over, Concini got assassinated, Richelieu went from strength to strength, and the half Habsburg half Medici Maria was exiled, then reconciled with her son, then exiled for good to the Netherlands in 1631 as Bourbon France took on Habsburg Spain.  Her grandson Louis XIV - “Louis the Great” and “the Sun King” (1638 - 1643 - 1715 (77)) became the longest reigning king in French history.

 

 

 

 

 

The Latter Medici Leaders from the Cadet (or 'Popolani') Family Line mixed with Cafaggiolo Genes

Ferdinando I (1549 - 1609 (60)), brother of Francesco I

 

The most competent of the Grand Dukes after Cosimo I himself.  Portraits of Ferdinando's successors lead to the suspicion that he and wife Cristina - who was the last surviving member of the Cafaggiolo Medicis - managed to inject some sort of cousinly goof gene into the remaining Medici stock (see all the following male portraits).

 

The photo is of the equestrian statue of Ferdinando by the 80 year old Giambologna in 1608.  The statue, in the Piazza della S S Annunziata in Florence in front of Brunelleschi's famous Spedale degli Innocenti (Foundling Hospital), was cast using bronze from canons captured from the Barbareschi during the North Africa expedition led by the Knights of the Order of St Stephen in 1607.

 

 

 

 

 

Cosimo II (1590 - 1621 (31)), son of Ferdinando I

 

Cosimo's first act as Grand Duke was a disaster - he closed the Medici Bank, and with it a large slab of the Duchy's income. 

 

He supported no artists, and completely neglected involvement in the government of his Duchy - leaving this to the Spanish occupiers of Tuscany.  He did however provide shelter from the church for the scientist

 

Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642 (78))

 

who was appointed and protected as Professor in Residence at the court of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, though eventually they were forced to let the Inquisition try him (in the Dominican Convent attached to Santa Maria sopra Minerva next to the Pantheon in Rome)  because of his heretical notion that the Earth went round the Sun (not, as is often stated, because he said that the earth was spherical - everyone knew that !).  Whilst at the Medici court Galileo discovered the four moons of Jupiter which he named "the Medici stars".

 

The portrait by Justus (aka Giusto in Italiano) Sustermans (1597 - 1681, a Dutchman who was court painter for the Medici) shows Cosimo II (centre), wife Maria Magdalena of Austria and Ferdinando II.

 

 

Ferdinando II  (1610 - 1670 (60)), son of Cosimo II

 

Inherited the title when only 11 and had to suffer his extremely unintelligent and ostentatious mother and grandmother acting as joint regents, then made matters seriously worse by marrying the cold and attention seeking Vittoria della Rovere (who was into having endless portraits painted of her pudgy self as goddess, saint, vestal virgin, Virgin Mary etc - see below). 

 

Ferdinando himself was a decent retiring chap, and, though clearly not the sharpest knife in the Tuscan drawer he supported learning through patronage of Galileo and others, and by forming the Medicean Academy of Science.   This was also patronised by his brother Cardinal Leopoldo, who had significantly extended the family holdings of Venetian art, and also founded the Accademia del Cimento ("trials") the motto of which was "try and try again" - perhaps it should have been the Academy of Trying.

 

Prince then Cardinal Leopoldo de'Medici (1617 - 1675 (58)) by Baciccio in the Uffizi Gallery

 

The only good thing to come out of Ferdinando's marriage to Vittoria, was the transfer of some artistic masterpieces to the Medici collections as part of the dowry she brought as the last person to turn out the lights in Duke Federico's Palazzo in Urbino.  The masterpieces (now in the Uffizi Gallery) included Titian's Venus of Urbino, and Piero della Francesca's portraits of the Duke of Urbino and his wife Battista Sforza ..... below ..... the viewing of which is often nominated as the starting point for those wishing to follow the "Piero della Francesca Trail" from Florence through Arezzo, Sansepolcro and Monterchi to Urbino.

 

                    

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Ferdinando II in his Suleiman dressing up kit

 

portrait by Giusto Sustermans (1597 - 1681) in the Pitti Palace

 

 

Vittoria della Rovere as Santa Margherita

 

portrait by Giusto Sustermans

 

 

THE INVENTION OF THE PIANOFORTE

 

The pianoforte was invented in the late 1600s by Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655 - 1731 (76)) who was a keyboard instrument designer for the Medici.  The previous keyboard instrument of choice was the harpsichord, which makes a sound by plucking strings.  The mechanics of sound production meant that the harpsichord sound came at one volume level only, and could not be made louder or softer by the player.  The clavichord advanced the cause of volume changing a bit, but there was still the inherent limitation imposed by the mechanics of string plucking. 

 

Christofori invented a keyboard instrument that made sounds via leather covered hammers striking (rather than plucking) strings.  The striking could be done lightly or heavily by the player, resulting in quiet (piano) or loud (forte) sounds. 

 

The invention was no overnight success, but  by the mid 1700s the design had been improved considerably and the pianoforte started to be seen and played more widely.  By the 1800s pianos (having lost the "forte" from their name) were being manufactured in the USA and sold into middle class residences.

 

 

 

 

What you see is what Tuscany got .....
 

 

 

Cosimo III  (1642 - 1723 (81)), son of Ferdinando II

 

Cosimo's 52 year reign was a disaster for the State of Tuscany, and the penultimate nail in the coffin of the Medici dynasty, though he did leave the world the recipe for Jasmine Chocolate (drink)

 

Portrait in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi collection attributed to B. Franceschini.

 

 

Giangastone  (1671 - 1737 (66)), son of Cosimo III

 

An "unfortunate wretch" who had no will to reign - in fact no will to do anything apart from eat and drink. 

 

 

Portrait in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi collection attributed to G. Pignatta.

Cosimo III's instructions at a public watermill still operating near Siena

 

 

 

The last of the Medicis

 

Anna Maria Luisa (Sister of Gian Gastone)  (1667 - 1743 (76))

 

Pictured above with drop dead gorgeous hubby Johann Wilhelm, Palatine Elector, by Frans van Douven (in the Uffizi - of course).  Remembered with affection because it was she who insisted, 350 years after Giovanni first set up shop, that the great art collections of the Medici were gifted to the City of Florence via the "Treaty of the Family", which was executed on 31 October 1737 following the death of her brother Cosimo III.  That there was so much left after so many idiots had had access to it is a mark of how hugely successful the first four Medici bankers and Cosimo I were.

 

 

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