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Truth is Powerful

The Met’s Medici Portraits Examine Renaissance Culture & Politics

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Bronzino (Agnolo di Cosimo di Mariano), Italian, Monticelli 1503–1572, detail of Florence Laura Battiferri, ca. 1560. Oil on panel. 34 1/2 × 27 5/8 in. (87.5 × 70 cm). When we think of visages that defined Renaissance art between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, we’re drawn to depictions of mythological and biblical figures and unnamed dames. Yet these subjects were only part of the artists’ exploration of the human form—there was also the thriving art form of portraiture , which sought to express universality through the depiction of specific individuals.

With an illustrious lineup of ninety artworks by the likes of Raphael, Titian, Jacopo da Pontorno, Benvenuto Cellini, Agnolo Bronzino, and Francesco Salviati, Medici: Portraits and Politics, 1512–1570 examines how portraiture became a propaganda tool wielded by the ducal family to project power and cultural refinement. Domenico Compagni (called Domenico de’ Cammei), Cameo of Cosimo de’ Medici and Eleonora di Toledo, ca. 1574. Agate and gold. Diameter 1 1/2 in. (3.7 cm). Museo degli Argenti, Palazzo Pitti, Florence. The main focus of the exhibition is the rule of Cosimo I, who reigned from 1537 to 1569. Thanks to his 1539 marriage to Eleonora di Toledo, daughter of a Spanish Viceroy, […]

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