ANN: Next Research Seminar, 7 October, 6pm, IHR, Senate House

Andrea M. Gáldy will speak on Politics of Culture: Collecting and Display at the Court of (Grand) Duke Cosimo I de‘ Medici

In 2019, the 500th birthday of Cosimo I de‘ Medici is being celebrated. Born in 1519 to Giovanni de‘ Medici and Maria Salviati, i.e. a Medici on both sides, he continued the successful tradition of Medici collecting and the use of possessions on the political stage. Nonetheless, his collections played a Cinderella role until the 1980s, when his importance slowly started to be acknowledged. As the ruler over (grand) ducal Florence and Tuscany and married to a pious Spanish bride, he was still mostly regarded as a tyrant whose collecting activities emulated those of his republican ancestors.

Research over several decades has been able to show that Cosimo’s collections were not only considerable and varied, they were also a matter of great personal interest to their owner. Displayed in especially set-up halls and study rooms, not to mention the construction of the Uffizi from 1560, Medici collecting remained an important part of cultural politics in ducal Florence and would remain so in grand ducal Tuscany. In fact, the collections of Cosimo and his sons, Francesco and Ferdinando, are regarded as leading trend setters, as were those of Cosimo il Vecchio and Lorenzo il Magnifico. What has not yet been emphasised sufficiently is the fact that in the sixteenth century the collections contributed to a politics of power and culture, in particular in the relationship between Italian states, including papal Rome, and in connection with the Holy Roman Empire.

The paper will therefore trace the history of the collections, as well as show their importance in the political negotiations between Florence and the rest of Europe.

Andrea M. Gáldy is a specialist in the History of Collecting. Originally trained as a classical archaeologist, she gained a PhD at the School for Art History and Archaeology at the University of Manchester with a thesis on the collection of antiquities of Cosimo I de’ Medici. Since completing her doctorate, she has received post-doc fellowships from the Henry Moore Foundation and from Villa I Tatti. Her research focuses on collections, their patrons and their purposes. She is a founding member of the international forum Collecting and Display, which runs regular events in partnership with the IHR, London, and other institutions worldwide. Andrea is the main editor of the series Collecting Histories (CSP), under which label six C&D conference volumes have been published so far.All are welcome!Please check our website for more seminars this year.