Cosimo de' Medici (1519–1574), Duke of Florence and Grand Duke of Tuscany
Grand-ducal workshops, Florence
Overall: 2 3/16 x 1 13/16 x 3/8 in. (5.5 x 4.7 x 1 cm); 55.2 x 46.5 x 10 mm
The Milton Weil Collection, 1938
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 536
Lapis lazuli is a notoriously brittle medium for detailed carving, but the highly specialized Florentine grand-ducal workshops overcame many challenges as they fashioned and assembled hardstones. This portrait of Cosimo de’ Medici is more generalized than those on the medals it is based on, no doubt owing to the extra caution that had to be taken with the drilling. The cameo appears in Medici inventories, described as framed in ebony, between 1588 and 1628.