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The Medici: Portraits and Politics, 1512–1570

Various authors
328 pages
212 illustrations
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Between 1512 and 1570, Florence underwent dramatic political transformations. As citizens jockeyed for prominence, portraits became an essential means not only of recording a likeness but also of conveying a sitter’s character, social position, and cultural ambitions. This fascinating book explores the ways that painters (including Jacopo Pontormo, Agnolo Bronzino, and Francesco Salviati), sculptors (such as Benvenuto Cellini), and artists in other media endowed their works with an erudite and self-consciously stylish character that made Florentine portraiture distinctive.

The Medici family had ruled Florence without interruption between 1434 and 1494. Following their return to power in 1512, Cosimo I de’ Medici, who became the second Duke of Florence in 1537, demonstrated a particularly shrewd ability to wield culture as a political tool in order to transform Florence into a dynastic duchy and give Florentine art the central position it has held ever since. Featuring more than ninety remarkable paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and medals, this volume is written by a team of leading international authors and presents a sweeping, penetrating exploration of a crucial and vibrant period in Italian art.

Portrait of a Man, Andrea del Sarto (Andrea d'Agnolo)  Italian, Oil on canvas, transferred from wood
Giuliano de' Medici (1479–1516), Duke of Nemours, Raphael  Italian, Tempera and oil on canvas
Cosimo I de' Medici (1519–1574), Duke of Florence, Baccio Bandinelli  Italian, Marble, Italian, Florence
Charles V, bust length, holding a sword, facing right, Giovanni Britto  German, Woodcut
Multiple artists/makers
Cosimo de' Medici (1519–1574), Duke of Florence and Grand Duke of Tuscany, Grand-ducal workshops, Florence, Lapis lazuli, Italian, Florence
ca. 1567–69
Cosimo I de'Medici (1519–1574), Duke of Florence, 1537; Grand Duke of Tuscany, 1569, Domenico Poggini  Italian, Gilt bronze, Italian
Francesco I de' Medici, grand duke of Tuscany, Giambologna  Netherlandish, Bronze, Italian, Florence
modeled 1585–87, cast ca. 1611
Portrait of a Young Man, Bronzino (Agnolo di Cosimo di Mariano)  Italian, Oil on wood
Carlo Rimbotti (1518–1591), Francesco Salviati (Francesco de' Rossi)  Italian, Oil on wood
Grand Duke Cosimo I of Tuscany Surrounded by his Artists., Giorgio Vasari  Italian, Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, highlighted with white gouache, over traces of black chalk or graphite, on gray-green paper
ca. 1556–62
Elogia virorum literis illustrium..., Paolo Giovio  Italian, Printed book with woodcut illustrations.
Multiple artists/makers
1575; 1577
Le Vite de' Piv Eccellenti Pittori Scultori et Architettori..., Giorgio Vasari  Italian, Woodcut illlustrations
Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564), Daniele da Volterra  Italian, Oil on wood
probably ca. 1545

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View Citations

Christiansen, Keith, and Carlo Falciani. 2021. The Medici: Portraits and Politics, 1512-1570 [Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, June 26-October 11, 2021]. New York, NY: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.