A Florentine Princess on the Throne of France
Museo degli Argenti, Pitti Palace, Florence
March 19 - September 4, 2005
Who was Maria de' Medici, though? Much more is known, or believed to be
known, about her illustrious forbear Catherine who, on the throne of France,
was protagonist of clamorous and dramatic events destined to remain in the
collective memory, such
as the Saint Bartholomew's Massacre. This second queen of France from the
family of the rulers of Florence, born in 1573 and died in 1642, instead
demanded an updated profile, adding nuances and details to a negative image
consolidated by centuries.
Daughter of the reserved and refined Francesco I whose name is
tied to the Studiolo in Palazzo Vecchio and the sophisticated culture of
late Mannerism, Maria grew up in one of the most advanced courts of Europe
for collecting, for the quality and sumptuousness of artistic and
handicrafts productions, for musical and theatre inventions and, not lastly,
for politics that made all this a very efficient means of promotion. Her
youth unfolded between the Pitti Palace, the Boboli Gardens, the villa at
Pratolino and the other Medici
residences, lessons in music and painting, devotional practises and
sumptuous dresses, as preparation for the royal destiny that had been
predicted for her.
Among the artists
who frequented the Florentine court, Alessandro Allori, Jacopo Ligozzi,
Empoli, Cigoli, Giambologna and Ferdinando Tacca were the ones who
contributed to forming her artistic culture which, all in all, was to
represent the most precious patrimony that she
took with her to France.
At the end of the XVI century, the mutable conjunctures of history had drawn
the grand duchy of Tuscany, till then under the direct or indirect rule of
Spain, closer to France, ruled
as of 1589 by Henry IV of Bourbon (1553 - 1610).
to Catherine de'Medici's daughter Margaret (the famous "Queen Margot"), and
head of the Huguenots, Henry embraced Catholicism to be legitimated as
sovereign and, with political foresight
and resourcefulness, set to reordering the state after the long years of
religious war. With Maria de'Medici A
Florentine Princess on the Throne of France the good offices of Ferdinando I
de' Medici, he succeeded in divorcing his first wife in order to marry
Maria, the grand duke's niece, and thus come into her enormous dowry which
also included the partial settlement of his debts with the Medicis. The
celebrated by proxy in Florence in October 1600, was the occasion for
spectacles of which chronicles of the time left dazzling descriptions: the
ceremony in the cathedral was an extraordinary theatrical event, as were
musical and iconographical inventions prepared for the occasion.
The first section illustrates the Medici court in the last decades of the
1500s with various
portraits: first and foremost are the important portraits of Maria herself
and of her family,
some of them on show for the first time. These include beautiful paintings
young princess, such as the one attributed to Scipione Pulzone (Casa Vasari,
or the full-figure painting by Santi di Tito (Palatine Gallery, Florence).
a rich selection of the most representative works and objects that the young
could have seen produced and available in Florence, thus informing of how,
same time, the arts could be a support to politics. A lesson which she took
lending a fundamental support to consolidating the power of Henry IV and
the successive politics of Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu. The works on
precious small paintings (by Alessandro Allori, Jacopo Ligozzi, Cigoli,
Empoli, Santi di
Tito .), refined objects from the grand-ducal workshops on designs by
small bronze statues by Giambologna, majolica, crystal, semiprecious stones
furniture such as the Table with Signs of the Zodiac.
The second section is dedicated to the festivities for Maria's wedding in
particular interest for the entertainments and musical novelties produced
for the occasion,
in addition to the fashion and customs of the period. Also on show are
autografi by Maria herself, musical texts and librettos, a mandola of the
chronicles of the period, as well as a rich documentation of period fabrics.
is represented by a large painting by Alessandro Allori, restored for the
portraying The Wedding at Cana, in which the true protagonist is Maria
dressed as the
bride, and a large, never before exhibited painting from a private
collection by an artist
of the Rubens milieu and preparatory for Maria Lands in Marseilles.
The section dedicated to France illustrates French production during Maria
reign and regency with paintings of extraordinary quality and importance, as
important commissions to Italian artists. It includes works from the most
French museums - first and foremost the Louvre - by Philippe de Champaigne,
de La Hyre, Horace Le Blanc, Nicolas Freminet, Claude Vignon . as well as
Pourbus (the large Annunciation of Nancy and the portrait of the sovereigns)
8.15-17.30 month of March.
8.15-18.30 months of April, May, September.
8.15-19.30 months of June, July, August.
Ticket office closes one hour before closing.
Closed: first and last Monday of the month and May 1.
Full rate € 6,00 (includes admission to the Museo degli Argenti and the
Concession € 3,00 for European Community citizens, 18 to 25 years of
Free admission for European Community citizens under 18 and over 65 years of