Cosimo I de’Medici and Granducal Florence: Henk van Veen and Guido Rebecchini

Event Date: 30 October 2019
The Lecture Room
Warburg Institute
Woburn Square,
London WC1H 0AB

The Warburg Institute presents:

Cosimo I de’Medici and Granducal Florence

Cosimo I de’ Medici (1519-1574), first Grandduke of Tuscany, was both a consummate administrator and a fierce patron of the arts. The lecture series Cosimo I De’Medici and Granducal Florence celebrates the 500th anniversary of Cosimo I de’ Medici’s birth by bringing together scholars from across the humanities to discuss Cosimo’s achievements in art, architecture, statecraft, scholarship and culture. Pairs of scholars will offer specialist discussions over the course of six evenings, from June to November 2019. Evenings will be devoted to issues of diplomacy and spying, architectural and artistic commissions, the development of universities and libraries, as well as Cosimo’s personal learning and self-representation.

Introduction by Professor Michelle O’Malley (Warburg):

Professor Henk van Veen (University of Groningen) – The messy reality of Cosimo I’s commissioning of art: Baccio Bandinelli and the Neptune Fountain in Piazza della Signoria, Florence

This fascinating case shows that in his art patronage Cosimo could be met with tough resistance on the part of the artists he commissioned works from, who were not always willing to just give up their own agenda and goals when faced with the orders of a ruler whom modern scholarship all too often portrays as autocratic.

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Dr Guido Rebecchini (Courtauld Institute) – Heritage, Identity, and Conflict. The ‘Material Memory’ of the Medici Family in Early Modern Europe
This paper focuses on the history and transmission of the Medici family patrimony, including land, buildings and works of art, as seen through an extraordinary and understudied legal dispute that spanned fifty years, from 1537 until 1587. It analyses the competing interests of Duke Cosimo de’ Medici, the French Queen Caterina de’ Medici (1519-1589), and Margaret of Austria (1522-1586), three exceptionally powerful figures with claims on the possessions of the main branch of the family. This complex legal case offers a remarkable seam of evidence for understanding the role played by works of art and ancestral buildings in crafting a visible, ‘material memory’ of the Medici family, the political mechanisms that underpinned the construction of the family’s history, and the struggles that took place to forge alternative dynastic identities.

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