Dear Commons Community,
Yesterday, I went to The Metropolitan Museum of Art for the first time since the pandemic started in early 2020 to see The Medici – Portraits and Politics 1512-1570. This exhibit did not disappoint. It was four galleries of original sculpture and paintings from the period, most of which depicted members of the Medici family. The Wall Street Journal hailed it as:
“A spectacular exhibition… Organized around fabulous loans from far-flung lenders and a deeply intellectual premise, ‘Medici Portraits’ would be a feat in any climate. In a pandemic, it’s a triumph.”
Cosimo de’Medici, rightfully so, receives much of the attention. From the exhibit’s brochure:
“Some of the greatest portraits of Western art were painted in Florence during the tumultuous years from 1512 to 1570, when the city was transformed from a republic with elected officials into a duchy ruled by the Medici family. The key figure in this transformation was Cosimo I de’ Medici, who became Duke of Florence in 1537, following the assassination of his predecessor, Alessandro de’ Medici. Cosimo shrewdly employed culture as a political tool in order to convert the mercantile city into the capital of a dynastic Medicean state, enlisting the leading intellectuals and artists of his time and promoting grand architectural, engineering, and artistic projects. 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.”
While the entire exhibit is a treat, some of the sculptures (see video above), especially the bust of Cosimo de’Medici by Benvenuto Cellini, is a magnificent work of art.
The eyes, made of silver, are mesmerizing.
If you are interested in the period, Florence, or the Western Canon, you will thoroughly enjoy, The Medici – Portraits and Politics 1512-1570.
Bravo to The Met!