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The claiming crown: politics, dynasty, and gender in state portraits of Medici women.

A commanding, elegant woman gazes confidently from the canvas. Her rigid, life-size form displays the latest court fashion, executed in the finest fabrics and embellished by an ensemble of stunning jewelry. She stands at a slight angle to the picture plane with one hand relaxed by her side and the other resting on a nearby table covered in a cloth. Sitting near her outstretched hand and providing the powerful political and dynastic context for her image is the distinctive gem-encrusted grand ducal crown of her Medici husband, the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Such a description applies to any one of no less than thirty portraits of Medici Duchesses and Grand Duchesses produced over a concentrated fifty-year period encompassing the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. (1) Despite its prevalence and clear importance, the grand ducal portrait type has never been studied as a convention, nor have its standard iconography and meaning been thoroughly investigated. (2) Medici portrait scholar, Karla Langedijk, briefly noted in her seminal work on the subject that an "established 'pattern'" did appear in the family's state portraiture of the period in question. Curiously, however, Langedijk made no mention of the grand ducal crown as a characteristic of this pattern (1: 135) and ventured no further observations on the representational mode. The artistic quality, accessibility, and poor state of preservation of several of these later works, as well as the general absence of contemporary scholarly interest in both the subjects and artists, may explain the lack of consideration given these dynastically significant portraits. Yet among the numerous painted images of Medici consorts, the grand ducal portrait is arguably the most iconic, dynastically loaded, and gendered method of representing the Grand Duchess of Tuscany from the last quarter of the sixteenth century to the line's extinction in 1743.

Conceived in Florence in 1590, the grand ducal portrait type is unique among European portrait conventions of the time. An investigation of the genesis, content, and goals of this prevalent portrait mode indicates that the convention's appearance shortly after the 1589 state marriage of Grand Duke Ferdinando I and Valois princess, Christine of Lorraine, was not coincidental. At this date the Medici, only in their second generation as Grand Dukes of Tuscany, notably lacked the distinguished pedigree of Europe's elite ruling families. Ferdinando, anxious to improve his family's rank, was just assuming leadership. Indeed, dynastic aspirations and political circumstances provided the impetus for a portrait type ultimately designed to mark and claim the new Grand Duchess for the Medici family by drawing upon well-established and potent dynastic symbols, in particular the grand ducal crown. Once instituted, this portrait convention routinely performed the same proprietary function in images of Christine's successors. Within a decade of its inception, the grand ducal portrait and its iconography were firmly established, allowing later Medici images dependent upon this dynastically loaded formula to draw from its authority and meaning while communicating their own messages of power.

Among the preserved portraits adhering to the grand ducal type, twenty-seven were painted during a period of five decades encompassing the rules of Ferdinando I and his son, Cosimo II, as well as the co-regencies of their wives, Christine of Lorraine and Archduchess Maria Maddalena of Austria respectively. (3) These images of Christine and Maria Maddalena are of particular interest because they stand at the beginning of this portrait tradition in Florence. More images of these two consorts in this type are preserved than of any other Medici women. Further, the grand ducal portraits, created both of and, sometimes, for these two Grand Duchesses, testify to the changeable meaning a Renaissance portrait mode could assume, depending upon the dynastic and political context of its production. The selective employment of the grand ducal type to depict two particular Medici princesses during the same period also bears this out.

The orchestrated and propagandistic nature of the grand ducal portrait convention is affirmed by its first appearance in two portraits of Christine of Lorraine, produced in 1590 by Scipione Pulzone (Fig. 1) and Santi di Tito (Fig. 2). Pulzone's signed and dated version enjoyed the distinction of entering the Serie Aulica of the Uffizi, (4) and exists today in one copy and one variant; Santi's version was reproduced at least six times. (5) Both of the original paintings, as well as the copies and variants, depict the Grand Duchess opulently dressed, regal, and lavishly bejeweled in dynastically referential diamond and ruby gemstones (Sale Holian, "The Clues" 457-58). In all versions, Christine stands next to a table upon which she rests her right hand, which is always extended toward, but never touches, the grand ducal crown sitting nearby. The diadem indicates her husband, wearer of the crown, and her extended hand not only draws attention to this potent symbol of sovereignty and authority but also underscores the physical connection between herself and Ferdinando, whose line she will perpetuate with heirs of distinguished pedigree. (6)


According to preserved written descriptions of the coronation ceremonies of Medici Grand Duchesses, new brides were crowned by the reigning Grand Duke and not by religious leaders as the Grand Duke had been (Saslow 140). Such a ceremonial arrangement made visually manifest the bride's dependency upon the Grand Duke, through whom she received her position and dynastic authority. (7) Unfortunately these same documents are unclear with regard to the actual crown used to coronate the new bride. They simply refer to "the crown" without a description of this object. (8) In addition, Medici jewelry inventories clearly describe the grand ducal crown, but no female equivalent is recorded. (9)


Painted examples are no more helpful in clarifying the crown used in the Grand Duchess's coronation ceremony. Only three images of Medici Grand Duchesses wearing a crown are preserved. The first work belongs to a series of small portraits depicting the Medici family, commissioned in 1587 by avid portrait collector Archduke Ferdinand of Tirol, brother of Joanna of Austria. The image is a small, profile portrait of the Grand Duchess Bianca Cappello bust-length and wearing the grand ducal crown. She sits before a plain black background and is identified, like other subjects in the series, by an inscription at the top of the painting. Although Bianca and her husband, Francesco I, died in October of 1587, their Austrian images must have been painted before their deaths, as both of their portraits are identified with their names and dynastic titles, while the painting of Ferdinando, Francesco's successor, is not. (10) Therefore, Bianca's status as reigning Grand Duchess likely explains the odd and unprecedented inclusion of the grand ducal crown in her image. The work's paper support (mounted on cardboard) and diminutive size (13.5 x 01.5 cm) exclude it from the class of official state portraits to which belong the rest of the preserved paintings of Grand Duchesses with crowns.


The second and third painted examples of Medici consorts wearing crowns are posthumous and show Joanna of Austria at her marriage to Francesco I de' Medici, which occurred in 1565, four years before the elevated title of Grand Duke was bestowed upon the family. In the first of these two official paintings, executed by Jacopo Ligozzi and dated to around 1627, Joanna wears the grand ducal crown. In the other canvas, painted around 1613 by an unknown French artist (Fig. 3), Joanna dons what appears to be an imaginative hybrid of the Medici crown and the French royal crown. (11) This anomaly may be due to the artist's lack of contact with the actual Medici diadem. On the other hand, this imagery may be intentional. The painting's patron, Joanna's daughter, French Queen Maria de' Medici commissioned both pieces. The highly unusual appearance of a crowned Joanna in each work is almost certainly explained by Maria's patronage. Both works were intended to hang in royal French spaces where Maria sought to glorify her own distinguished lineage. (12)


Ultimately, all of these preserved visual and textual clues suggest the existence of only one Medici crown, the grand ducal crown, worn by the Grand Duke and used by him to crown the Grand Duchess. Jacques Callot's etching, Ferdinando I Crowning Christine of Lorraine (Fig. 4) of ca. 1614-17 further supports such a conclusion. (13) Here the Grand Duke crowns Christine with a simplified version of the grand ducal crown, made more easily recognizable by the turn of the diadem's characteristic large, central fleur-de-lys towards the viewer. If the theory of a single, but patriarchal diadem is correct, then Medici Grand Duchesses never wore the powerful and gendered dynastic object with which they were so frequently depicted, apart from a moment of bestowed glory at their coronation. As such, the crown of the grand ducal portrait type, and within other images of Medici consorts, acts in an extra-referential capacity, evoking the absent Grand Duke and his authority.

The Medici crown's contemporary role and meaning are clearly revealed by its many representations on buildings, tapestries, majolica, sculpture, and other Medici-owned property throughout Tuscany. The crown most frequently pairs with the family's coat-of-arms, adding further glory to that other ubiquitous and highly recognizable dynastic symbol. The crest and crown in tandem, like the solitary coat-of-arms or the diamond ring of the previous century, served as a familial marker, identifying emblazoned objects as Medici property, while reminding viewers of the family's elevated rank, power, and evident material wealth. Not coincidentally, the Grand Duchess's coronation ceremony emphatically conveyed the same visual message of power, bestowed glory, and possession when the Grand Duke placed his Medici crown on her head.

The grand ducal portrait constructs an identical proprietary statement by drawing upon the established symbolic and visual language associated with the grand ducal crown. The diadem's presence in both Santi's and Pulzone's portraits of Christine not only associates the Grand Duchess with the Medici House but also overtly functions to claim her, in an arguably proprietary fashion, as a consort of the Florentine Grand Duke and a member of his dynasty. The crown visually binds her to the Medici, much like the documented and pedigreed Medici necklace meticulously rendered by Pulzone and worn by Christine in the artist's original painting (Sale Holian, "Family Jewels" 166-67). (14) This vital proprietary function is affirmed by the routine employment of the grand ducal convention to image new Grand Duchesses in their first state portraits.

Following the papal granting of the grand ducal title in August 1569, Cosimo I immediately placed the new crown over virtually every Medici coat-of-arms in Florence (Booth 232). The new Grand Duke's action affirms the symbolic power the item held for the Medici. And yet, despite its symbolic potency and clear connection to the Florentine dynasty, the grand ducal crown appeared sporadically and only in a small number of Medici portraits depicting a Medici Grand Duke before 1590, when Pulzone and Santi painted Christine. This is rather surprising given both Cosimo I's prompt enhancement of the family crest and his extensive use of portraiture for the trumpeting of political and dynastic messages throughout his reign. Indeed, the earliest securely dated portrait of Cosimo with the long-coveted grand ducal crown was not executed until 1585, eight years after Cosimo's death and a stunning fifteen years after his Roman coronation. Painted by Giovanni Battista Naldini, the depiction presents Cosimo seated, crowned, and dressed in the Tuscan robes of state. As such, it is the earliest datable likeness of a Medici Grand Duke in state garments (Langedijk 1:431). The work also enjoys a third distinction as the first securely dated image of any Medici Grand Duke with the diadem. (15)

Significantly, Naldini's likeness of Cosimo bears no compositional resemblance to the grand ducal portrait type, nor do the remaining handful of preserved images of Grand Dukes with the crown, which likely date before 1590. Therefore, it appears that the grand ducal portrait convention did not depend upon a masculine Medici precedent but was initially created for the sole presentation of Medici women. Indeed, the earliest securely dated example of this mode within the portraiture of Medici Grand Dukes does not occur until 1620, thirty years after the type's inception, and even then the appearance is unusual. (16) Of the approximately 300 known and autonomous portraits of Medici Grand Dukes, only twenty adhere to the grand ducal portrait convention. Many of these twenty are posthumous. An additional thirty-six portraits of Medici Grand Dukes follow the most popular method for depicting the dynasty's patriarch with the crown. Ludovico Cardi, known as Cigoli, established this method in 1602-03 when he copied Naldini's formal likeness of Cosimo I in a full-length variant. All but a handful of these images are posthumous, and most date after the third decade of the seventeenth century. In contrast, Christine and Maria Maddalena were painted with the diadem, according to the grand ducal convention, in fourteen and thirteen portraits, respectively, and most appear to date from their lifetimes. (17) The question is why. And, furthermore, why the particular use of the grand ducal portrait type to image Medici Grand Duchesses in the first place? (18)

These questions become even more compelling when surveying the myriad of state portraits produced at other European court centers during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The patriarchal crown of the ruling family is typically absent from portraits of its female members. However, Tudor queen, Elizabeth I, provides an important exception. She appears in portraits both with and crowned by the English patriarchal diadem. As sovereign, she no doubt commissioned these images herself and, quite unlike most other Renaissance women, had complete control over her own image construction. She also had the right to wear this symbol of power and state, and thus possessed another quality distinctly different from other contemporary woman. Not surprisingly, her unique position generated new, gender-shattering precedents within the genre of portraiture, as witnessed by the "Darnley" portrait of Elizabeth from around 1575, which is the first preserved state likeness of a Renaissance woman with the patriarchal crown. (19)

Initial first-hand observations of female state portraits from these years also affirm that the Medici family was the first European dynasty to use the male sovereign's crown as a signifier in the imaging of its female consorts. When other ruling dynasties made claims similar to those signaled by the Medicean diadem of the grand ducal portrait, alternative symbols were used. An important earlier example is the red velvet chair linked in portraiture with the Spanish sovereign and his authority as early as Titian's 1548 image of Charles V. The Spanish king was physically associated with the velvet chair, which he used regularly at court while conducting business (Gimenez-Berger). Frequently appearing in the portraits of Spanish consorts and daughters from at least 1570, this regal chair likely had a function similar to the Medici crown. Although, this Spanish state portrait convention never contained the Spanish crown, it does share some compositional elements with the grand ducal portrait type. For example, the disposition of the bodies is similar, as witnessed in Antonio Moro's three-quarter length Portrait of Anna of Austria from 1570 in the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Here, Anna stands at an angle to the picture plane, with an extended hand resting on the chair's armrest while her other arm is relaxed at her side. In contrast to the Medici type, Spanish subjects always have physical contact with the chair, making their connection to the King as father or husband more overt. Like Medici women, Spanish consorts and daughters are lavishly dressed, impressively bejeweled, and meet the viewer's gaze. Most of these images are three-quarter length, although full-length versions are also preserved.

Despite the earlier appearance of this popular Spanish portrait convention and its later similarities to the grand ducal type, it is unlikely that it influenced Pulzone and Santi. The similarities are probably only coincidental. First, there is the practical consideration of a model. Today the Medici collections lack portraits following the Spanish mode that also date before 1590, when the grand ducal type appeared. Furthermore, Ferdinando's driving desire to signal a shift to a foreign policy less dependent upon the Habsburgs (Saslow 10-11), at precisely the moment of the Medici portrait type's conception, does not make the Spanish convention a likely prototype.


The earliest, securely dated non-Medici example (20) of a consort with a crown is Jeremias Gunther's signed and dated 1613 portrait of Empress Anna of Austria (Fig. 5), painted more than twenty years after the first grand ducal portraits of Christine. Anna married Emperor Matthias in 1612. The following year Gunther cocapleted this unusual full-length image of the Empress wearing the imperial crown, holding a scepter in her right hand and an orb in her left. To her right, a table bears the crown of the King of Bohemia, indicating her husband's additional title. She is heavily bejeweled, sumptuously dressed, and looks out at the viewer. In direct contrast to the insistent repetition of the crown in portraits of Medici Grand Duchesses, Gunther's work is one of three known painted versions of this image, and the only one to bear the regalia.

Closer in format to the grand ducal portrait type but just as unusual as Gunther's canvas is the image of Empress Eleonora Gonzaga, signed and dated in 1622 by the nun and painter Lucrina Fetti. Dating a decade after the Gunther work, this image depicts Eleonora standing next to a table bearing the imperial crown, rather than the lap dog present in the original Justus Sustermans's portrait of the Empress from 1621, upon which Fetti's work is based. Fetti was an inhabitant of the Sant' Orsola convent in Mantua where her painting was executed and originally hung. The convent, which was run by a family member, became Eleonora's temporary home when her mother died in 1611 (Chambers and Martineau 242-43). Eleonora's prestigious marriage in 1622 to Emperor Ferdinand II brought great honor to the Gonzaga dynasty and its beneficiaries, which almost certainly explains the notable substitution of the crown by Fetti. Ultimately, Anna and Eleonora's portraits are the exceptions that prove the rule, making the Medici situation all the more striking.

A survey of the Medici dynastic and political context illuminates the motivations for the development of the grand ducal portrait type in Florence at this precise moment. When Ferdinando I came to power after the sudden deaths of his brother and sister-in-law, the new Grand Duke chose a bride, but not from among the Hapsburgs as his father and brother had. Instead, Ferdinando selected Christine of Lorraine, favorite granddaughter of French Queen Catherine de' Medici. Ferdinando's choice bolstered relations with France, while boldly signaling a more balanced Medici foreign policy less reliant upon Spain and Austria (Saslow 10-11). The match brought Medici blood back to Florence, as Christine was a distant cousin of Ferdinando. More importantly it brought royal blood to the Medici dynasty, which in its second generation as Grand Dukes lagged far behind the great monarchies of Europe in terms of antiquity and pedigree.

In addition to her enormous dowry, (21) Christine possessed all of the moral and noble qualities Ferdinando desperately sought to resurrect within the Medici House, following what he perceived as a shameful period of indecency, decadence, and poor governance overseen by his brother, Francesco, and Francesco's second wife, the much-maligned Venetian, Bianca Cappello, who was notably not of aristocratic blood. Now prepared to contribute his own chapter to Medicean history, Ferdinando wed a royal bride of distinguished lineage and quickly set about overtly linking her to the Medici House through every possible visible means. Portraiture, an always-powerful tool within the Medicean program of propaganda, was an obvious choice for this purpose, especially given the example provided by Ferdinando's revered father, the first Grand Duke, Cosimo I, whom Ferdinando frequently emulated. (22) in particular, Cosimo provided an excellent model for the shrewd exploitation of a new type of image, the female dynastic portrait. Beginning shortly after Cosirno's 1539 marriage, depictions of his Spanish consort, Eleonora di Toledo, actively trumpeted many of the most important, complex, and powerful claims of his dynasty for a pan-European audience, as the many preserved copies of these images testify. Later, the likenesses of Cosimo and Eleonora's marriageable and betrothed daughters fulfilled similar roles, while simultaneously furthering the dynastic ambitions of the parvenu Duke (Langdon 99).

One female portrait of particular relevance from Cosimo's reign is Agnolo Bronzino's landmark 1545 depiction of Eleonora di Toledo and her Son, Giovanni (Fig. 6). Bronzino's panel instituted the mother and child portrait type, which was much imitated by later Medici, leading Janet Cox-Rearick to identify the influential image as the origin of the "Medici dynastic portrait" ("Eleonora" 145). As Gabrielle Langdon has demonstrated, the work is a multi-layered, expertly orchestrated and highly sophisticated visual conduit for the conveyance of both the Duchess's personal qualities, as well as Medicean dynastic claims (59-97). Ultimately, Eleonora is portrayed as fecund dynastic mother, feminine exemplar, and divine, exclusive consort of Cosimo, who is absent, but referenced repeatedly in symbolic terms throughout the work. For example, Eleonora's jewelry, the diamante details of her dress sleeves, her son, and even the illumination of the work evoke her Medici husband (Langdon 84-85, 93).

Given the familiar example available to Ferdinando, it is not surprising that a parallel exists between Bronzino's mother-and-child portrait convention and the later grand ducal portrait type. For example, each representational mode was established toward the beginning of Cosimo and Ferdinando's respective rules, and shortly after they made prestigious marriages of state to the women depicted. Furthermore, both portrait conventions highlight rank and dynastic power, depict the female consort with a symbol of that power, originate in Florence, and were employed consistently by the Medici for decades. Finally, both portrait types specifically evoke the absent patriarch and emphasize his political, dynastic, and physical connection to the present female. Ultimately, the parallels in content and function of the two conventions suggest Ferdinando followed the example of his father and trusted the potent genre of portraiture to communicate the messages of greatest interest to him and his new rule. Therefore, eager not only to signal the change of dynastic leadership, but also to trumpet his own advantageous royal marriage and the subsequent shift in Medici foreign policy, Ferdinando ordered the new grand ducal portrait type, which notably appears in two different artists' works simultaneously.


How important it was for Ferdinando through visual means to claim his royal French bride for the dynasty is apparent almost from the moment Christine set foot on Italian soil in April 1589. Once she arrived in Tuscany, her French origin was hidden behind a state-mandated surface of Tuscan fashion and behavior. According to the Medici historian J. Riguccio Galluzzi, the "very prudent" Ferdinando, motivated by concerns over public opinion, wanted Christine to "immediately adopt" Tuscan clothing and manners, despite her arrival with royal gifts of luxurious clothing in the French style made especially for her Florentine entry (5: 44). Christine accomplished this metamorphosis at the Medici villa of Poggio a Caiano, where she awaited her formal entry into her new city. During the entrata that followed Christine importantly appeared before the crowds as a thoroughly Tuscan princess. (23) Ferdinando no doubt viewed the grand ducal portrait type as a permanent extension of Christine's Medicean conversion--a painted document that could be, and was, copied and disseminated throughout Medici territories and beyond, just like Bronzino's 1545 image of Eleonora.

When it came time for Ferdinando to negotiate a marriage for his son and heir, Cosimo II, Ferdinando returned to the Hapsburg line as a means of simultaneously advancing the dynasty and balancing Medici political and foreign policy during his reign and beyond. Moreover, as Ferdinando had already alarraed the courts of Austria and Spain after not just one, but two prominent Medici unions with the French--his own and that of his niece, Maria--a Hapsburg match was no doubt deemed prudent. Thus, Archduchess Maria Maddalena of Austria, whose sister was already the Queen of Spain, married Cosimo II in 1608.

Reinforcing ties with the Habsburgs was essential to the Medici Grand Dukes and the maintenance of their European position. As such, Medicean dynastic politics required that this newest union with the Habsburgs be trumpeted. Therefore the grand ducal portrait type, designed precisely for the purpose nearly twenty years before, again played its vital role. In fact, almost from the moment Cosimo II became Grand Duke in 1609, Maria Maddalena was also explicitly connected with her husband's dynasty, and him in particular, through the same portrait convention, which had served Ferdinando's politics so well. Ultimately thirteen, or what amounts to about a quarter of all preserved images of Maria Maddalena, present her in this mode. Of these, the portrait preserved in the most copies is a member of the Serie Aulica, giving the work a privileged position akin to Pulzone's 1590 painting of Christine. This portrait was executed by Justus Sustermans and entered the Medici collection in 1623 (Fig. 7), along with a portrait of Maria Maddalena's then-deceased husband, Cosimo II, who died two years before. Sustermans's image depicts both Maria Maddalena and, unique to this type, the heir apparent, Ferdinando II. Based upon the age of Ferdinando, and Sustermans's documented arrival at court, scholars agree the work is a "retrospective" portrait based upon already-existing images, and that, although it was commissioned before Cosimo's death, it was not completed until after (Langedijk 2:1288; Sustermans 21; Sframeli, "I diamante" 123). Given the dating, the highly constructed nature of the portrait, and Maria Maddalena's extensive and documented involvement in artistic commissions during her co-Regency, (24) it seems likely that Maria Maddalena had direct input with regard to the work's final appearance. Moreover, such control by a widowed Regent over her own persona and imaging was not without contemporary precedent (Levy 76-77).

Before dying, Cosimo II drew up a will appointing his mother, Christine of Lorraine, and his wife, Maria Maddalena, co-Regents for the eleven-year old Ferdinando II. With this change in role and status came a change in how Maria Maddalena was imaged in the following eight years before Ferdinando's majority. Here, as in the other examples of the grand ducal portrait, the Grand Duke and his authority are clearly alluded to by the Medici crown, faithfully painted on a table to the right of Maria Mad dalena's extended right hand. Her other hand, almost certainly bearing her wedding ring, rests over the small left shoulder of Ferdinando, giving form to her protective, official role of co-Regent, as decreed by the deceased Grand Duke.


Notably, Maria Maddalena wears her embroidered and pearl-encrusted wedding dress in Sustermans's portrait. Her head is lavishly adorned with a headband of dynastic-specific diamonds and rubies, while more diamonds set within individual mounts are attached to her hair. (25) The most significant piece of the Grand Duchess's adornment, however, is another pedigreed Medici jewel, "II Fiorentino," the enormous 112-carat diamond bought in 1601 by her father-in-law, Ferdinando I. Il Fiorentino hangs freely from a curved golden "stem" attached to the right side of Maria Maddalena's headband. Described as the "most beautiful thing in Europe" and sought after by the Holy Roman Emperor, this diamond was one of the most recognizably Medicean gems, after the grand ducal crown (Sframeli, "I diamante" 124-28). Therefore, as in other grand ducal portraits, Maria Maddalena is clearly identified as a Medici consort both through her jewelry and her proximity to the crown. However, engaged and shrewd patron that she was, Maria Maddalena likely turned this portrait tradition to her own ends by relying on the residual meaning already associated with the grand ducal portrait type, just as previous Medici had done with Bronzino's dynastically potent Portrait of Eleonora di Toledo and her Son, Giovanni (Fig. 6). (26) In fact, Bronzino's portrait undoubtedly provided a second model for Maria Maddalena. This earlier image not only depicts Eleonora with a male Medici child, but was also painted shortly after Cosimo I made her Regent of Tuscany and was probably executed in part to commemorate this event. (27) By borrowing both from the revered example of Bronzino and the now-established grand ducal mode, Maria Maddalena constructed through the skill and brush of Sustermans an image of power and legitimacy for herself. The crown, as always, emphasizes the authority of the absent Grand Duke, but here this symbol takes on a particularly heightened meaning, since it was through Cosimo's will that power passed to Maria Maddalena as co-Regent. The crown's inclusion also served as a reminder to an audience of foreign ambassadors and native court officials that his authority, and by extension hers, must be respected. Furthermore, the choice of her wedding dress and her recognizably Medicean jewelry overtly links her with the dynasty, referenced in the form of the Prince whom she protects.

The continued subversion of this type by Maria Maddalena, as well as Christine of Lorraine, is also visible in portraits of these two women dressed as widows. Notably, they are the only widowed Grand Duchesses depicted with the Medici grand ducal crown. As Allison Levy recently demonstrated, widowed women of state could and did employ portraiture as a means of manipulating their political persona while maintaining the social obligation of mourning required of their gender (76-77). As evidenced by Maria Maddlena's Serie Aulica portrait, the grand ducal type provided a

potent, recognizable and attractive convention for co-option by these Medici widows. In these preserved images of Christine and Maria Maddalena in widow's weeds, the type further allowed the Grand Duchesses to communicate their own messages of power through a visual convention, which invoked the authority of their absent husbands. As such, they drew their own authority from his memory, while showing themselves to be appropriately "chaste and loyal" widows (Levy 76).

Christine lived as a widower for twenty-eight years between 1609 and 1637, while Maria Maddalena did so for a decade from 1621 until her death in 1631. Predictably, Christine is preserved as a widow with the crown in a larger number of works than her daughter-in-law. Christine appears in seven known portraits versus the two depicting Maria Maddalena. Among these images is Tiberio Titi's portrait of Christine from around 1618, which also exists in one copy and one variant (Fig. 8) (Langedijk 1: 666-67). Titi's image sets the widowed Grand Duchess in the foreground of a plain room, with an open doorway framing the distant cityscape of Florence.2s Rather than standing, the Grand Duchess is kneeling, with her hands in a gesture of prayer, before a small, open illuminated manuscript,29 which rests against the grand ducal crown. Strewn on the floor behind her are a tulip, a carnation, and roses, perhaps alluding to marital love, now mingled with the pure, steadfast love of a mourning widow (Lehner and Lehner 113, 124, 127). Christine meets the viewer's gaze, which is also engaged by her rotund white dog. The dog sits in the work's foreground and provides a stark, visual contrast to the dark background of the altar cloth and the Grand Duchess's gown.

Although this more spatially complex work does not conform precisely in terms of composition to the grand ducal portrait type, Titi's image prominently displays the crown, again physically near the Grand Duchess but not touched by her. A strategically placed miniature portrait of Ferdinando, hanging from Christine's waist and set off against the black expanse of her dress, creates the third point of a triangular form, which emphasizes the power relationship between husband and consort. As such, the image ultimately draws from the established meaning of the grand ducal convention, both in order to reinforce the Grand Duchess's relevance and authority at a court then controlled by her daughter-in-law and to demonstrate her adherence to the socio-gendered norms prescribed for Renaissance widows.

Three other images of Christine as a widow, which more closely adhere to the grand ducal portrait type, are also preserved in Florence. However, the precise date of these works, and the artists responsible for them are unknown. This makes it difficult to ascertain the role of the paintings at court, since whether they were produced during or after Christine's lifetime remains uncertain (Langedijk 1: 654). Given the general decline in popularity of the grand ducal trade in the late 1630s, at approximately the time of Christine's death, these portraits likely date from her later life and demonstrate the continued use of this portrait type to image the Dowager Grand Duchess.


Maria Maddalena had at least two portraits of herself painted in widow's weeds with the crown. Both were executed during her co-Regency at a time when her own power was at its zenith but also entirely dependent upon the local and international recognition of the authority of her deceased husband, Cosimo II. Perhaps to emphasize the crucial connection of consort-to-Grand Duke upon which she so strongly relied, Maria Maddalena ordered one of these portraits in 1622 from Domenico and Valore Casini, promptly following Cosimo's death. Here, Maria Maddalena stands with her left hand extended towards the now familiar table bearing the Medici crown. As befitting a widow, she is dressed simply and adorned only with a single table-cut diamond ring worn on her right hand. This work deliberately evokes the other portraits of the Archduchess painted in this mode during her husband's life. However, by borrowing from the dynastic meaning therein, she was able to establish her own authority by drawing on his, just as she did in Sustermans's Serie Aulica work (Fig. 7).

Ultimately, the period of greatest production for the grand ducal portrait type was the thirty-three years between 1590 and 1623, although the mode did appear at least as late as 1637 when Sustermans painted Grand Duchess Vittoria della Rovere on the occasion of her public marriage to Ferdinando II. (30) The subsequent Grand Duchess, Margudrite-Louise of Orldans, wife of Cosimo III, was painted with the Medici crown in at least two portraits, and the final Grand Duchess, Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenburg, consort of Gian Gastone, (31) is preserved in a single image with the Medici royal crown. (33) However, these three later works do not adhere to the grand ducal convention in key ways.3~ Why the use of the type significantly dwindled after Christine and Maria Maddalena is unclear, although it almost certainly is associated with the position and circumstances of the Medici family.

The next Grand Duchess, Vittoria della Rovere, was the daughter of Claudia di Ferdinando I de' Medici and Federico delia Rovere and therefore did not possess the prestigious royal or imperial blood of recent Medici consorts. She was betrothed to her first cousin in her youth and was raised at the Florentine court after her father's early death and her mother's remarriage. Vittoria and Ferdinando's eventual wedding in 1637 was not cause for waves of propagandistic portraiture touting the increased prestige of the Medici. Indeed, the union arguably had the opposite, dynastically isolating effect as it removed the Medici from the European network of arranged marriages for an entire generation. In addition, Vittoria was already intimately linked to the Medici by blood; this connection was well known. By the time she was widowed in 1670 the grand ducal portrait type was absent from Medicean portrait production and had been for three decades. Furthermore, by the end of the 1630s the Florentine dynasty had successfully intermarried with most of the great monarchies of Europe and perhaps no longer deemed it necessary to trumpet its status with a slew of overtly dynastic portraits. Lastly, fashion and taste, two powerful factors in visual change, ahnost certainly played a role in the convention's decline. (34)

During the thirty-three years of the portrait type's greatest popularity, however, all of the Duchesses and Grand Duchesses of the Medici House, who ruled before the portrait mode's 1590 inception, were painted posthumously with the grand ducal crown. This was even the case for Eleonora di Toledo, who died in 1562, seven years before the dynasty received the elevated title. (35) Three of these four known images vary slightly from the grand ducal portrait type, (36) perhaps due to their posthumous status or their pastiche-like quality. However, each maintains the convention's message and basic function while testifying to the intense popularity of the type. Given these circumstances, it is perhaps not surprising to find that, during this period, the grand ducal mode was also employed for the representation of Maria de' Francesco I and Caterina di Ferdinando I, two Medici princesses who made important marriages for the Florentine ruling dynasty.

On October 5, 1600, after lengthy negotiations, Maria married French King Henry IV by proxy in Florence. Before she departed for France, Santi di Tito painted Maria in the portrait mode he helped introduce ten years earlier (Fig. 9). The work, which was copied at least once within Santi's workshop, (37) depicts Maria standing and elaborately arrayed just like her aunt, Christine, in the artist's earlier portrait. The Medici princess wears a heavily embroidered dress of dark green silk shot with gold and further embellished with stylized carnations, referencing marriage (Langedijk 2: 1248, 1476-77). These flowers alternate with sprigs, which bear what appear to be ripe pomegranates, symbolizing fecundity (Schneider 119). Among the symbolic flora and fauna are prominent white fleur-delys, no doubt alluding to her union with France (Langedijk 2:1248). According to feminine court fashion of the time, as well as personal taste, Maria wears dozens of pearls, while several enormous diamonds, rubies, and emeralds set in enameled gold mounts adorn her dress and belt. (38) Her right hand rests on a table bearing, not the Medici grand ducal crown but an imaginative version of the French crown, for which Santi seemingly had no accurate visual model.


The next Medici daughter to wed was Caterina, daughter of Ferdinando I and Christine of Lorraine. In 1617 Caterina married Ferdinando Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua. Approximately a year after Caterina's wedding, Christine dispatched Tiberio Titi to Mantua in order to paint her daughter. The resulting work entered the Medici collection in April 1619 (Fig. 10) (Langedijk 1: 343). Caterina is depicted according to the grand ducal portrait mode, which as Santi di Tito's son and pupil, Tiberio, was clearly familiar with and closely followed. Thus, the Medici princess stands with her right hand extended and resting on a nearby table draped with a brilliant blue cloth and supporting the Gonzaga ducal crown. She is also elaborately dressed in a scarlet gown, embellished with gold and silver embroidery, white sleeves, delicate lace cuffs, and an elegant collar. In addition, Caterina is lavishly bejeweled with pearls, diamonds, and rubies.


Therefore, both Maria and Caterina were depicted according to a portrait mode that was well-established at the Florentine court as a method for representing women of foreign blood who married into the family and assumed the title of Grand Duchess. Apparently, this format was never used to depict women who married younger brothers of the Grand Duke or to image the Grand Duke's daughters until 1600. By then the grand ducal portrait type was already ten years old, an iconic mode of female representation, uniquely Medicean and loaded with established meaning. Maria was the first Medici bride married after the type was invented and Caterina the second. But the adoption of this mode for their imagery could not, by the very nature of their positions, be a wholesale borrowing. Indeed, the meaning of the portrait mode shifted when a foreign crown was included with a Medici princess. For example, the work ceased to be about the female subject as dynastic object claimed by the familial line whose crown is present. Since the Medici commissioned both of these portraits of Maria and Catherine, the message communicated must have been less about what other courts achieved through the commemorated union, and primarily, if not exclusively, about what the Medici gained or expected.

When the original locations of these portraits are also considered, this seems even more certain. Hanging within Medici palaces, they were sure to be seen by diplomats and other representatives from the courts of France and Mantua, where the paintings served to remind these individuals and, indirectly, their masters, of the allegiances and loyalty now owed or guaranteed the Medici by marriage. On a basic level, the portraits glorified the Medici House. However, the purposeful adaptation of the grand ducal portrait mode for the imaging of these two daughters not only enabled important dynastic alliances to be trumpeted but also, significantly, left no question as to the identity of who would be the bearers of legitimate royal and ducal heirs, or in these cases, the next King of France and the next Duke of Mantua. This function must have been a compelling factor for the unusual Medicean use of the grand ducal portrait type in these works representing Maria and Caterina. Other contemporary methods of representing these two women existed (39) but were curiously ignored in favor of a type never employed for Medici daughters before or after, despite other daughters making equally important unions during the decades of the convention's popularity.

For instance, Claudia di Ferdinando I was married, widowed, and then remarried during this period. No surviving portraits appear to date from the time of her first, very brief marriage in 1621 to Federico della Rovere. But when Claudia was remarried in 1626, this time to Archduke Leopold of Tirol, she was painted twice by Justus Sustermans and a third time by Lorenzo Lippi. Sustermans's two works are close to the grand ducal portrait type but lack a crown and survive in a combined seven painted copies. (40) Today, however, two of these copies include the Austrian crown, although Karla Langedijk noted that one of these diadems is a later addition. Indeed, both crowns might be, just like the one Claudia now dons in Lippi's canvas (Langedijk 1: 374, 376). If this is the case, then none of the original ten portraits commemorating Claudia's important state marriage bore the Austrian crown. Furthermore, Margherita di Cosimo II, who married Odoardo Farnese in 1628, was painted by Sustermans on the occasion of her wedding, and the ducal crown of Parma is also absent (Langedijk 2: 1223-24). The absence of foreign crowns in the portraits of Claudia and Margherita at the time of their marriages is curious given the contemporary popularity of the grand ducal portrait type at the Medici court, as well as the convention's previous use in depicting Medici daughters, Maria and Caterina. However, the environment into which each these four brides entered may explain this anomaly.

Claudia's first husband, prince Federico della Rovere, had a reputation for living a dissolute life during which he preferred performing in minor theatricals to running the duchy of Urbino. Although commonly thought to be a delinquent, he does not appear to have had an official mistress or consistent lover before the Medici wedding and fathered no illegitimate children (Nissim 71-72). (41) He died two years after his union to Claudia, who then married Archduke Leopold, a former Bishop who was enticed by Claudia's large dowry into renouncing his vows and marrying her. Perhaps a hypocrite, Leopold was no rake. Nor was Odoardo Farnese, husband of Margherita di Cosimo II. Therefore, the Medici could be confident that the children of these two Medici brides would rule their respective domains without challenge or question. The same could not initially be said for the children of Maria or Caterina.

By the time of his marriage to Maria in 1600 Henry IV was already famous for his seemingly insatiable appetite for women. One result of this character trait was Henry's fathering of three children with his longtime mistress, Gabrielle d'Estrees. Their liaison produced two boys who were legitimized in the late 1590s, before the Medici wedding. After Gabrielle's sudden death, Henriette d'Entragues became the King's favorite, bearing Henry a son only one month after the future Louis XIII was born in 1601. Henriette's child was legitimized two years later. To further complicate matters for Maria, shortly before her wedding Henry gave Henriette a written promise of marriage, which in the words of art historian Deborah Marrow, "not only threatened Maria personally, but also jeopardized her children's succession to the throne" (8). Therefore, before the marriage and continuing into at least its first year, the Medici clearly had well-founded reason for concern over the issue of legitimacy.

Caterina's situation was no better. Her husband, Ferdinando I Gonzaga, had been married to Camilla Faa, a former lady-in-waiting to the Duke's sister-in-law. This earlier marriage took place in February of 1616 and resulted in the birth of a son that December. Under pressure from the Gonzaga House, Ferdinando had the marriage annulled and wedded Caterina shortly thereafter. Documents preserved in the Medici archives testify to Medici concerns over the legality of the Duke's previous marriage and its annulment, especially with regards to the hereditary rights of Camilla's son vis-a.vis the future children of Caterina ("The Medici"). As with Maria, the subject of inheritance and the indisputable legitimacy of a Medici heir were real and serious issues at the heart of important state marriages brokered precisely for this purpose. Given this context, it hardly seems surprising to find Maria and Caterina overtly depicted, by way of their respective crowns, as the legitimate consorts of Henry IV and Ferdinando Gonzaga.

Indeed, it is more than coincidental that both Maria and Caterina, the only two Medici daughters depicted using the grand ducal portrait mode, were also the only two princesses during this period entering marriages complicated by potentially serious concerns regarding the primacy of Medici heirs. Both brides were marrying men who had sons by other women, and in the case of Henry IV, were still actively involved with these women at the time of the Medici union in question. Relying upon the art of portraiture, as the dynasty had repeatedly done in the past in conveying powerful political and dynastic statements, the Medici turned to the well-established and iconic grand ducal portrait. Although this uniquely Medicean mode of representation was initially developed in 1590 to image foreign brides marrying into the Medici House, the overriding messages of dynasty, authority, legitimacy, allegiance, and, ultimately, power, were drawn upon to emphasize the legitimate role both Maria and Caterina were expected to fulfill at their respective courts. The inclusion of the French and Gonzagan diadems rather than the standard grand ducal crown refocused the message of the earlier portraits of Medici Grand Duchesses into a statement at once more specific and arguably more dynastic. Directed at an audience of foreign officials, especially those of France and Mantua, the Medici sought to underscore the legitimate position of their daughters, and through them continue the expansion of Medici power.

The same Medicean motive of power initially gave rise to the grand ducal portrait type in the first state images of French royal Christine of Lorraine, following her marriage to Ferdinando I. So effective was the type, that it not only dominated the state portraiture of Christine and Archduchess Maria Maddalena of Austria, but it also governed the format of two critical portraits of Medici daughters and continued to be attractive to the Medici for the imaging of Grand Duchesses for almost half a century. Whether ordered by the Grand Duke or co-opted by the Grand Duchess as a means of communicating vital messages of dynasty and authority as Regent or widow, this distinctly Florentine mode of female representation intimately linked the Grand Duchess to the Medici and, in turn, the Medici to monarchical Europe.

Works Cited

Booth, Cecily. Cosimo I, Duke of Florence. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1921. Print.

Calderara, Estella Galasso. Un amazzone tedesca nella Firenze Medicea del '600: La Granduchessa Maria Maddalena D'Austria. Genoa: Sagep Editrice, 1985. Print.

Caneva, Caterina, and Francesco Solinas, eds. Maria de' Medici: una principessa fiorentina sul trono di Francia. Livorno: Sillabe, 2005. Print. Catalogo dell' arredamento esistente nella Villa Medicea "La Ferdinanda" di Artimino. Florence: Polistampa, 1969. Print.

Cavallino, Simone. Raccolta di tutte le solennissime feste nel sponsalitio della serenissima gran duchessa di Toscana, fatte in Fiorenza il mese di maggio 1589. Rome: Blado, 1589. Print. Chambers, David, and Jane Martineau, eds. Splendours of the Gonzaga. Milan: Amilcare Pizzi, 1981. Print.

Cox-Rearick, Janet. "Eleonora of Toledo and her Son Giovanni." The Medici, Michelangelo, and the Art of Late Renaissance Florence. Ed. Judith A. Ruskin and Carole Lyn Piechota. New Haven: Yale UP, 2002. 145-46. Print.

--. Splendors of the Renaissance: Princely Attire in Italy. New York: Art Gallery of the Graduate Center, CUNY, 2004. Print. ffolliott, Sheila. Personal communication. 20 March 2009.

Frick, Carole Collier. "Painting Personal Identity: The Costuming of Nobildonne, Heroines, and Kings." Italian Women Artists: from Renaissance to Baroque. Eds. Elizabeth S.G. Nicholson, Rebecca Price, Jane McAllister, and Karen I. Peterfreund. Milan: Skira, 2007.63-74. Print.

Galluzzi, J. Riguccio. Istoria del granducato di Toscana sotto il governo della casa Medici. 2nd ed. Vol. 5. Livorno: G.T. Masi, 1781. Print. Gimenez-Berger, Alejandra. Personal communication. 4 April 2008.

Giusti, Annamaria, ed. Masters of Florence: Glory and Genius at the Court of the Medici. Memphis: Wonders, 2004. Print.

Hackenbroch, Yvonne, and Maria Sframeli. The Jewels of the Electress Palatine in the Museo degli Argenti. Florence: Centro Di, 1988. Print.

Harness, Kelley. "'La Flora' and the End of Female Rule in Tuscany." Journal of the American Musicological Society 51.3 (1998): 437-76. JSTOR. Web. 21 July 2008.

Katritzky, M. A. "The Florentine Entrata of Joanna of Austria and Other Entrate Described in a German Diary." Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 59 (1996): 148-73. JSTOR. Web. 21 July 2008.

Langdon, Gabrielle. Medici Women: Portraits of Power, Love and Betrayal from the Court of Duke Cosimo I. Toronto: Toronto UP, 2006. Print.

Langedijk, Karla. The Portraits of the Medici, 15th to the 18th Centuries. 3 vols. Florence: Studio per edizione scelte, 1981, 1987. Print.

Lehner, Ernst, and Johanna Lehner. Folklore and Symbolism of Flowers, Plants and Trees. New York: Tudor, 1960. Print.

Levy, Allison. Re-membering Masculinity in Early Modern Florence: Widowed Bodies, Mourning and Portraiture. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006. Print.

Marrow, Deborah. The Art Patronage of Maria de' Medici. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1982. Print.

Nissim, Lea Rossi. "Vittoria della Rovere." The Medici Women. 2nd ed. Trans. Stephanie Johnson. Florence: Arnaud, 2003.71-82. Print.

Sale Holian, Heather L. "Family Jewels: The Gendered Marking of Medici Women in Court Portraits of the Late Renaissance." Mediterranean Studies 17 (2008): 148-82. Print.

--. "The Clues are in the Jewels: A Case for the Companion Portraits of Francesco I and Lucrezia de' Medici." SECAC Review 15 (2005): 452-64. Print.

--. "The Power of Association: A Study in the Legitimization of Bianca Cappello through Medici Matriarchal Portraiture." Renaissance Papers (2006): 13-41. Print.

Saslow, James. The Medici Wedding of 1589. New Haven: Yale UP, 1996. Print.

Scalini, Mario. The Medici Villas, The Complete Guide. Rev. ed. Florence: Giunti Editore, 2006. Print.

Schneider, Hildegard. "On the Pomegranate." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 4 (1945): 117-20. JSTOR. Web. 12 March 2009.

Sframeli, Maria. "I diamanti dei Medici." Diamanti: arte, storia, scienza. Eds. Hubert Bari, Caterina Cardona, and Gian Carol Parodi. Rome: De Luca Editori d'Arte, 2002. 110-29. Print.

--. ed. I gioielli dei Medici. Livomo: Sillabe, 2003. Print.

--. "Perle e d iamanti per la Regina." Maria de' Medici: una principessa fiorentina sul trono di Francia. Eds. Caterina Caneva and Francesco Solinas. Livorno: Sillabe, 2005. 151-52. Print.

Strong, Roy. Gloriana: The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1987. Print.

Sustermans: sessant'anni alla corte dei Medici. Florence: Centro Di, 1983. Print.

The Medici Archive Project. Archivio di Stato, Florence. Document ID 5866.26 February 1617. Web. 24 February 2010.

Young, C.E The Medici. 3rd ed. Vol. 2. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1912. Print.


Portions of this essay were presented at the 2008 and 2009 annual conferences of the Renaissance Society of America. I am thankful to the University of North Carolina, Greensboro for the funding, which made first hand studies of these portraits possible. In Italy, I especially wish to thank Maddalena de Luca of the Palazzo Pitti for her generous assistance. Lastly, I am also indebted to Porter Aichele, Sheila ffolliot, and Alejandra Gimenez-Berger for their thoughtful suggestions and insights, which made this final essay better.

(1) The portrait totals cited in this essay derive principally from first hand observations by the author and Karla Langedijk's seminal three-volume catalogue of Medici portraits. These tallies contain only autonomous, painted state portraits of individuals or groups. No prints, tapestries, medals, sculpture, allegorical, miniature or intimate likenesses (measuring less than 25 x 30 cm) are included, nor are portraits found in history paintings, such as the sixteenth-century cycles of the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.

(2) Langedijk identified these portraits as being "full-length to the left or right, with table and curtain and with or without a fan or handkerchief in the hand, (and) make their impression through the costly materials of the gowns, often set with precious stones and pearls, the lace ruffs and cuffs and jewels" (1: 135).

(3) While Maria Maddalena was entitled to the appellation of Grand Duchess as Cosimo II's consort, she preferred the more prestigious hereditary title of Archduchess with which she was born.

(4) This series of portraits, a kind of ancestral portrait gallery, was established in 1584-85 under Francesco I and was continued enthusiastically by Ferdinando I and subsequent Medici Grand Dukes until the dynasty's conclusion in the early eighteenth century (Langedijk 1: 137-38, 3: 1557).

(5) Langedijk proposed Christine's more youthful appearance in Santi's work is the reason his image was copied twice as many times as Pulzone's, despite the later being part of the Serie Aulica (1: 661).

(6) A companion portrait of Ferdinando pairs with Christine's image in at least two preserved grand ducal examples. The Grand Duke is never depicted with the crown or any other accoutrement of office. He is dressed simply, as a civilian, with a cape and necklace bearing the insignia of the Knights of St. Stephen, a chivalric order founded by his father.

(7) Cosimo II was not yet Grand Duke when Maria Maddalena married him and thus she was crowned by her father-in-law, Ferdinando, emphasizing that not only the person but the office were intimately connected with the crown. For a description of the coronation, see Calderara 43.

(8) "[I]l granduca [Ferdinando I], presa la corona dalle mani di Monsignor Borghese, arcivescovo di Siena, gliela pone in testa e la dichiara principessa di Toscana" (The Grand Duke [Ferdinando ], took the crown from the hands of Monsignor Borghese, Archbishop of Siena, placed it on her head and declared her [Maria Maddalena] princess of Tuscany) (Calderara 43); "[I] quali Vescovi dopoi d'haver celebrare alcune cerimonie, diedero la Corona al Gran Duca [Ferdinando ], il quale la pose sopra la testa di detta Gra Duchessa, sua moglie [Christine]" (Those Bishops after having celebrated some ceremonies, gave the Crown to the Grand Duke [Ferdinando I], who placed it upon the head of the said Grand Duchess, his wife [Christine]); and then two paragraphs later, "L'arcivescovo di Pisa port6 il bacile con la Corona della gran Duchessa" (The Archbishop of Pisa carried the basin with the Crown of the Grand Duchess). Given that this second mention references the earlier "crown" it cannot positively establish the existence of a feminine crown (Cavallino 22).

Although he is not cited in any recent sources, C. E Young has stated emphatically in his history of the Medici that each Grand Duchess had her own crown. However, he does not cite any documents beyond the visual record of the portraits themselves. Using the highly variant and puzzling painted interpretations of the grand ducal crown in the portraits of Grand Duchesses as his evidence, Young stated in his study that each Grand Duchess had her own crown made after her successor was buried with hers (2: 345). No material evidence for such a claim has come to light during any of the Medici exhumations. More likely, the vast majority of artists responsible for the dozens of portraits depicting Medici with the grand ducal crown did not have direct access to the physical diadem, leading to varying interpretations, which then provided future, inaccurate models for others to follow. A similar variance occurs in depictions of the English crown within portraits of Elizabeth I.

(9) Both the 1591 and the 1621 Medici inventories list the grand ducal crown first, identify it as such, and record in painstaking detail its form and many precious stones. No crowns are identified this way for the Grand Duchess, although a headband worn as a coronet (una Ghirlanda a uso di Coronetta) and recorded in the 1591 inventory of Ferdinando I as sent to Christine to wear in France, is briefly described. This now-lost piece was decorated with pearls as well as diamonds and rubies, some of which joined two table-cut emeralds in a series of upright mounts attached to a band. Not only is Christine's headband not recorded in the same manner as the grand ducal crown, it also does not appear in the Medici inventory of 1621, nor in portraits of the Grand Duchess, suggesting the coronetta of Christine was not a female counterpart to the Grand Duke's diadem (Sframeli, I goielli 183-218).

(10) In addition, Ferdinando's portrait depicts him as a cardinal; however, at his right shoulder a grand ducal crown and scepter appear as later additions (Langedijk 1: 137-38).

(11) Rather than the distinctive red fleur-de-lys of the Florentine crown, the center of Joanna's diadem bears a prominent tri-lobed flower set in the middle with a pearl. This form was found on the contemporary French crown, where it alternated with the more characteristic fleur-de-lys of France. The rest of Joanna's painted diadem is an approximation of the Medici grand ducal crown.

(12) Each large painting was part of a historical series commissioned to decorate French royal palaces. Jacopo Ligozzi's image was one of ten paintings sent to Maria de' Medici for the Cabinet Dore of Luxembourg Palace (Langedijk 2:1256, 1259), while the canvas of an unknown French artist, preserved today in Dijon, was documented in the Queen's apartments at the Louvre as early as 1709, where scholars believe it hung the century before as well (Caneva and Solinas 273).

(13) Ferdinando I Crowning Christine of Lorraine is one of a suite of sixteen prints produced by Callot and commissioned to honor and glorify the life of the deceased Medici Grand Duke.

(14) Cosimo I acquired this necklace in October of 1572, and it appeared in Medici inventories among the family's most precious jewels through 1621, after which it disappeared from the record. As Sframeli noted, the necklace was most likely dismantled and the stones re-set according to the current fashion (I goielli 107). Meanwhile, Christine's three strands of large round pearls were a gift from Ferdinando and subsequently became part the jewels associated with the Medici House. The pearls appear among the gems recorded in the final inventory of the Medici family drawn up in 1741 by Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici, Electress Palatine (Hackenbroch and Sframeli 30).

(15) The earliest securely dated portrait featuring the grand ducal crown is Maso da San Friano's documented 1570 portrait of Francesco I, in which the Prince is shown full-length and seated next to a table bearing a sculpture, scepter and a summarily painted grand ducal crown, identifiable only by the red fleur-de-lys. This unusual work was executed not only the same year Francesco's father, Cosirao I, was crowned Grand Duke in Rome, but also the year Francesco began assuming more responsibilities of the state as heir apparent (Giusti 148). As such the crown's appearance no doubt references Cosimo's grand ducal ascent, while simultaneously indicating Francesco's increasing power and his future office, now elevated to that of Grand Duke

(16) This portrait of Cosimo II is doubly noteworthy as it also depicts the Grand Duke in state regalia, but uncrowned, unusual for this type of image.

(17) Of the combined thirty-three preserved portraits of Christine and Maria Maddalena with the Medici crown, only six do not adhere to grand ducal mode.

(18) Approximately forty-two images of Medici Duchesses and Grand Duchesses with the grand ducal crown are preserved. Only ten do not follow the grand ducal formula.

(19) Probably painted by the Italian artist Federigo Zuccaro while in England, the "Darnley" portrait shows the Queen three-quarter length and standing next to a table bearing the royal crown and scepter, both partially visible over her left sleeve. As Roy Strong observed, this is also a notable work within Tudor portraiture as it is the first time these two symbols of power are represented "separate" rather than worn or held (Strong 88). Despite the work's historical importance and similar composition it almost certainly did not influence the later Medici grand ducal convention.

(20) Preserved in the Uffizi as part of the Serie Aulica is a portrait of Anna of Austria, Queen of Poland, and sister to Maria Maddalena. The three-quarter length image depicts Anna in state attire and standing with a table to her right bearing the Polish royal crown. Her right hand rests next to the diadem but does not touch it. Anna's portrait is the only non-Medici portrait following the grand ducal type in the Serie Aulica, which contains several Medici portraits conforming to this mode of depiction. The work is generically attributed to the Polish School and dated to the seventeenth century, making the work posthumous, as Anna died in 1598. Given the portrait's location in the Serie Aulica and its patronage, it is entirely logical for this painting to be among the first non-Medici examples of the grand ducal portrait type, particularly since the work must have entered the collection around the time of Maria Maddalena's marriage to Cosimo II in 1608, when the convention was at its apex of popularity.

(21) The cash portion of Christine's dowry was worth 600,000 scudi, or somewhere between $100 and $200 million modern dollars, as estimated by Saslow in the mid-1990s. Jewelry, clothing and other precious objects were also among the items Christine brought with her to Tuscany (Saslow 18, n. 32).

(22) For one example, see Harness 444.

(23) Ferdinando's instructions, while not unusual at European courts of the period, are particularly interesting when viewed in comparison to the Florentine entrata of Ferdinando's Hapsburg daughter-in-law, Maria Maddalena of Austria, who, in contrast, wore recognizably Germanic attire (Calderara 42). As Frick and Cox-Rearick have both demonstrated, dress among the ruling classes of sixteenth and early seventeenth-century Europe was loaded with potent political implications of both familial alliance and loyalty. Such sartorial significance was perhaps no more important than during the ceremonies surrounding a bride's official entry, marriage and attendant celebrations. Typically a new bride dressed for her entrata in the style of garments worn at her husband's court, as occurred with Ferdinando and Christine. However, other models did exist whereby the bride's dress could demonstrate either the fealty of her father to her groom, or the groom's political deference to his new father-in-law. Ferdinando, after all, broke with his family's established tradition for taking a Habsburg wife, much to the chagrin and concern of Spain and Austria. After alarming them further by arranging the marriage of Maria di Francesco I to King Henri IV, some deference to the powerful Hapsburgs was no doubt deemed necessary, hence the choice of Maria Maddalena for Cosimo II's consort and in turn her Germanic bridal attire. Such respect was previously shown the Hapsburgs in Florence when, in an important and ambitious marriage for the Medici, Joanna of Austria wed Francesco I in 1565 and wore clothing and a coiffure of the German style during her entry (Katritzky 155-56). Further, as ffolliott suggested to this author, the comparative political weakness of the French at the time of Ferdinando's union with Christine perhaps empowered the Medici to dictate Christine's entrata ensemble.

(24) As Harness has demonstrated, Maria Maddalena was deeply involved not only in court politics of the co-Regency, but also personally concerned with artistic commissions of the court during this period. Therefore, one can easily imagine that her own portrait, destined for the Serie Aulica, would garner her personal attention.

(25) This headband is probably the same precious object described in the 1591 jewelry inventory of Ferdinando I and later recorded as being passed from Cosimo II to his son, as was typical of State jewels, suggesting the importance of the now-lost piece. If Maria Maddalena's head ornament can be identified with this object, then the dynastic nature of her jewelry and the overall message of the work intensifies further. See Sframeli, I goielli 139.

(26) For more on the issue of borrowed meaning with regard to Bronzino's Eleonora di Toledo and Her Son, Giovanni and Alessandro Allori's lost, but documented group portraits of Grand Duchess Bianca Cappello, her son Antonio, and Filippo, the young heir apparent, see Sale Holian "The Power" 23-27, 32.

(27) Eleonora was made Regent in 1541 and she exercised this power both that year, during the Duke's absence, and again in 1543. Gabrielle Langdon goes so far as to suggest that this portrait ushered in a "new genre of state portraiture, that of a regent" (65).

(28) The version preserved in the Pitti Palace, Inv. 1890, n. 2466, contains a nondescript landscape, but the rest of the details are common to all three works.

(29) The Grand Duchess's book is open to an illumination of the Annunciation and a prayer to the Virgin for matins (Langedijk 1: 666).

(30) Sustermans's portrait entered the Serie Aulica and was copied once.

(31) Although Gian Gastone was permanently separated from his wife by 1708, Anna Maria Franziska gained the title of Grand Duchess of Tuscany at his 1723 ascension.

(32) In 1691 the Holy Roman Emperor recognized Cosimo III and his successors as "sovereign princes." This trattomento reale gave the Medici Grand Dukes the right to be addressed as "Supreme Royal Highness" and to wear an arched crown, indicating their new position. As a result, Anna Maria Franziska's 1726 image contains the new diadem.

(33) T he two portraits of Marguerite-Louise of Orleans are housed in the Uffizi and Pitti Palace. The Pitti canvas is an anonymous, half-length painting of Marguerite-Louise with the grand ducal crown placed in front of her on a red cushion. She does not interact with the diadem in any way. Based upon comparisons with other contemporary portraits of the Grand Duchess, Langedijk dated the work after 1675 when Marguerite-Louise permanently separated from Cosimo III and left Italy for Paris. The Uffizi painting is part of the Serie Aulica, attributed to G. Gaetano Gabbiani and posthumous with a documented date of 1723. In this three-quarter length standing image the Grand Duchess notably rests her right hand on the Medici royal crown, which sits on the ubiquitous table nearby. Anna Maria Franziska's single image with the crown is also part of the Serie Aulica and attributed to G. Gaetano Gabbiani. Her portrait of 1726 is identical in composition to Gabbiani's earlier image of Marguerite-Louise, including the placement of her right hand on the crown.

(34) These two forces are exemplified by the images of Vittoria della Rovere, who embraced allegorical portraiture with an enthusiasm not shared by earlier Medici.6

(35) Eleonora di Toledo and Bianca Cappello were each painted in one such image, while two portraits of Joanna of Austria are also preserved.

(36) For example, Eleonora di Toledo's portrait by an anonymous Florentine and preserved at the Medici villa of Cerreto Guidi derives from several images of the Duchess. The result is a full-length version of Eleonora standing with her arms crossed in the manner of an earlier model, and as such her hand does not rest on the nearby table bearing the crown. Indeed, the most common difference between these posthumous images and the grand ducal portrait type is the removal of the subject's hand from the table, which occurs in all but one work.

(37) The work entered the Medici collection on 6 September 1601 when the artist received payment (Langedijk 2: 1248). Santi di Tito's shop copied the portrait once in a slightly larger variant. Unfortunately the whereabouts of this work are unknown today. It was sold at a 1969 auction held at the Medici Villa Artimino (Catalogo 143), where the work presumably resided for many years, if not since its completion. The Villa Artimino was Ferdinando's favorite summer palace, and as such particularly notable works from the Medici collection were displayed here, as documents attest (Scalini 115). Following the example set at other Medici residences, it is very likely that Maria's image hung here with other important portraits of state. A third copy, almost certainly misattributed to Spanish artist Pantoja de la Cruz, was on sale at Tomas Harris's Spanish Art Gallery in London in 1940 but is now untraceable.

(38) Pearls were associated with purity and chastity, requisite qualities of a Renaissance lady, and particularly meaningful when worn by a bride. Maria's dowry contained thousands of pearls, which have recently been described as "il grande amore" (the great love) of the Medici princess (Sframeli, "Perle" 151).

(39) For example, Valore Casini painted Caterina in a full-length portrait preserved in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, which dates from "not long before her marriage" (Langedijk 1: 342). Here she is framed by an empty table draped in red cloth at her right and a red curtain to her left. She is simply dressed in a black gown with embroidered cuffs and a large lace collar. Alternative modes of representation for Maria from this date include Pietro Fachetti's portrait (c. 1593-95) preserved in the Palazzo Lancellotti, Rome and Santi di Tito's 1599 likeness currently hanging in the Medici villa of Cerreto Guidi. Both images depict the Medici princess full-length, dressed in elegant courtly attire and adorned with pearl earrings and two long pearl necklaces. In each Maria extends her right arm, but in Fachetti's likeness she gracefully drapes her hand over a monumental pillar base, while in Santi's version she rests her hand on a table covered in red cloth.

(40) Sustermans's original portrait of Claudia in pink and preserved at Poggio a Caiano (Inv. 1890, n. 2267) also served as the model for three printed versions of the bride's likeness (Langedijk 1: 374-75).

(41) Nissim states that his behavior gave the Medici cause for concern, but his lifestyle grew worse after the marriage when he took as his mistress Argentina, a minor actress, and installed her in a wing of the palace (71-72).
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Author:Holian, Heather L. Sale
Publication:Explorations in Renaissance Culture
Geographic Code:4EUAU
Date:Dec 22, 2010
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