W E S T B U R Y

THE MEDICI WEDDING TAPESTRY OF 1589

Designed by Alessandro Allori, and woven in the Grand-Ducal workshops of Guasparri di Bartolommeo Papini.

Size: 265 by 177cm; 8ft. 8.5in., 5ft. 10in.

 

 

 

Provenance:

With Bernheimer.

With Cyril Humphris.

Sotheby's 29th November, 1985, lot 13.

Ferdinando I de'Medici, Grand-Duke of Tuscany, by whom commissioned for his wedding celebrations at the Villa di Poggio a Caiano in 1589.

 

Literature:

Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Guararoba Medicea 213, Ricordi e copplialettere dell'Arazzeria riscritta di Mandatti e Conti, 1598-1623, c.17d
Palazzo Vecchio Committenze e Collezionismo Medici', Firenze e la Toscana dei Medici nell'Europa dell Cinquecento, p.93.

Comparative Literature

H. Göbel, Die Wandteppiche, 1928, Part II, Vol.i, abb.383 and Vol.II, abb.381-386, for other Medici armorial portières, and abb.392, for a similar sculptural border on a tapestry attributed to the Papini workshop.

medici

One of the most historically important Florentine mannerist tapestries available anywhere in the world, this magnificent and rare example was created for the elaborate and costly celebrations of the wedding of Ferdinando I de'Medici, Grand-Duke of Tuscany, and Christina of Lorraine, in 1589.

Woven with the Medici coat of arms within a sculptural cartouche, surmounted by a crowned head. With the allegorical figure of Florence wearing the grand-ducal crown surmounted by a fleur-de-lys and holding a sceptre, his robe with the fleurs-de-lys for Lorraine and the Medici palle, beneath an ermine cloak, with a recumbent lion in the foreground. The other figure on the right, representing Siena seated beside a wolf, all against a blue sky, within a four-sided sculptural border with cartouches enclosing symbolic laurel and other fruiting saplings. The top corners with plumed masks wearing beaded necklaces. With the original brown selvedge tucked in at both sides.

All the Medici armorial portières illustrated by Göbel show the arms of the reigning grand-duke quartered with those of his consort. The present example shows the Medici arms alone with the fleurs-de-lys only on the robe of one of the supporters. This suggests that the portière was commissioned in anticipation of the forthcoming marriage. Ferdinando I, third Grand-Duke of Tuscany (b.1549), fourth son of Cosimo I by his wife Eleonora de Toledo, was, at the age of fourteen, created a Cardinal by Pope Pius IV, and subsequently resided in Rome until succeeding his brother, Francesco I, as Grand-Duke in 1587. During his sojourn in Rome he founded the Villa Medici, and acquired many notable works of art including the Niobe group, which he took back to Florence. After his accession he retained the Cardinal's purple until his marriage in 1589 to Christina of Lorraine, daughter of the Duke of Lorraine by his wife Claude of France, daughter of King Henri II and Catherine de Medici. Grand-Duke Ferdinando died in 1609 and was succeeded by his son Cosimo II. These 1589 festivities for the marriage were perhaps the most magnificent of the sixteenth century. 

HOME            RENAISSANCE            BAROQUE            18TH CENTURY            19TH CENTURY            SCULPTURE            INFORMATION