By Sheryl E. Reiss, Italian Art Society
On 29 July 1539, the young duke of Florence Cosimo I de’ Medici (1519-1574) married the seventeen-year-old Eleonora di Toledo (1522-1562), the younger daughter of the Spanish Viceroy of Naples, Don Pedro di Toledo. The marriage contract had been signed in Naples on 29 March 1539 and a proxy marriage was celebrated at that time. The bride arrived in Livorno on 22 June and met her groom in Pisa the following day. She and her retinue, along with Cosimo, stayed for several days at the Medici villa at Poggio a Caiano, making separate entrances into Florence on 29 June. The nuptials were followed by lavish festivities in the second (garden) courtyard of the Palazzo Medici. Niccolò Tribolo oversaw the decorations, which included paintings by a number of artists including Agnolo Bronzino, Francesco Salviati, Battista Franco, and Bachiacca, along with portraits of illustrious Medici forbears by Raphael, Jacopo da Pontormo, and Franco. The decorative program was an early manifestation of Cosimo’s propagandistic use of art to proclaim legitimacy and authority. Cosimo I and Eleonora were both extraordinary patrons of the visual arts and had eleven children together. Duchess Eleonora died in December 1562.
Agnolo Bronzino, Portrait of Eleonora di Toledo, 1543, Prague, Národní Galerie
Agnolo Bronzino, Portrait of Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici in Armor, ca. 1545, Florence, Uffizi
Giorgio Vasari and Workshop, Arrival of Eleonora di Toledo at Poggio a Caiano, fresco, Sala di Cosimo I, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
Pierfrancesco Giambullari, Frontispiece, Apparato et feste nelle noze dello illustrissimo Signor Duca di Firenze et della Duchessa sua Consorte… (Florence: Giunti, 1539).
References: Pierfrancesco Giambullari, Apparato et feste nelle noze dello illustrissimo Signor Duca di Firenze et della Duchessa sua Consorte… (Florence: Giunti, 1539).
A Renaissance Entertainment: Festivities for the Marriage of Cosimo I, Duke of Florence, in 1539, ed. Andrew C. Minor and Bonner Mitchell (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1968).
Janet Cox-Rearick, Dynasty and Destiny in Medici Art: Pontormo, Leo X, and the Two Cosimos (Princeton, NJ: 1984).
The Cultural Politics of Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici, ed. Konrad Eisenbichler (Aldershot, UK and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2001).
Mary A. Watt, “Veni, sponsa. Love and Politics at the Wedding of Eleonora di Toledo,” in The Cultural World of Eleonora di Toledo, Duchess of Florence and Siena, ed. Konrad Eisenbichler (Aldershot UK and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2004), 18-39.
Henk Th. van Veen, Cosimo I de’ Medici and his Self-representation in Florentine Art and Culture (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006).