The Medici: Portraits and Politics, 1512–1570

Christiansen, Keith, and Carlo Falciani, with contributions by Andrea Bayer, Elizabeth Cropper, Davide Gasparotto, Sefy Hendler, Antonella Fenech Kroke, Tommaso Mozzati, Elizabeth Pilliod, Julia Siemon, and Linda Wolk-Simon (2021)

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The Medici: Portraits and Politics, 1512–1570
June 26–October 11, 2021

Some of the greatest portraits of Western art were painted in Florence during the tumultuous years stretching from 1512 to 1570, when the city underwent the transformation from a republic with elected officials to a duchy ruled by Cosimo I de' Medici. Cosimo, who became the Duke of Florence in 1537, demonstrated a shrewd use of culture, adopting it as a political tool in his conversion of the mercantile city into the capital of a dynastic Medicean state. He enlisted the leading intellectuals and artists of his time and supported ambitious architectural, engineering, and artistic projects that altered the appearance and culture of the city. Through Giorgio Vasari's famous written work Lives of the Artists, which was dedicated to the duke, Florence was promoted as the cradle of the Renaissance.

Through an outstanding group of portraits, this major loan exhibition will introduce visitors to the new and complex ways artists portrayed the elite of Medicean Florence, representing the sitters' political and cultural ambitions and conveying the changing sense of what it meant to be a Florentine at this defining moment in the city's history. The exhibition will feature over 90 works in a wide range of mediums, from drawings, medals, and engravings to sculptural busts, paintings, books, and manuscripts. Included are works by the period's most celebrated artists, from Raphael, Jacopo Pontormo, and Rosso Fiorentino to Benvenuto Cellini, Agnolo Bronzino, and Francesco Salviati.