The curious studiolo of Francesco I de' Medici

June 19, 2010

The 16th century saw the rise of the new Medici. Distant relatives to the famous patrons such as Lorenzo Il Magnifico. One of the more interesting examples of one of these later Medici and their intimate relationship with art was Francesco I de' Medici (1541-1587), and his creation of the private study/museum known as lo studiolo. The project was overseen by the great Giorgio Vasari and included contributions by many leading painters and artisans.

Finding a detailed and definitive source on this particular collection has been difficult. We know that Francesco's original studiolo was dismantled immediately after his death, and that it was only reconstructed in the last Century, with several sources telling us the reconstruction is inaccurate in some respects, but does in some way capture the original spirit of Francesco's private collection.

A lovely hi-resolution picture posted in May 2010 by Flickr user urukai1964.

The studiolo was built between 1570-1575 within the Palazzo Vecchio - originally a municipal building but later commandeered as a Palace by the Ducal Medici. This building is now again in public hands, and apart from being a museum attraction, also forms offices of the current Mayor of Florence. The Palazzo Vecchio Museum website lists some further details and images of the studiolo, also known as The cabinet of wonders.

Here is a lovely snippet from the BBC Four documentary The Medici - Makers of Modern Art. This documentary was first aired in 2008 and is presented by Andrew Graham Dixon. 

If anyone is aware of a definitive English language text focusing on the Studiolo, please let us know!


Anonymous said...

"If anyone is aware of a definitive English language text focussing on the Studiolo, please let us know! "

If you can get access to ProQuest Digital Dissertations (Most university libraries should have digital access), there are two English language dissertations on the Studiolo. If you have access, the PDFs are free. If you get in touch with them, I think they might send you a print copy for a fee.

Most recent one is:
Rethinking the reinstallation of the studiolo of Francesco I de' Medici in the Palazzo Vecchio
by Edwards, Karen Victoria, Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University, 2007, 327 pages; AAT 3262800

Earlier one (but in my opinion better researched):

by SCHAEFER, SCOTT JAY, Ph.D., Bryn Mawr College, 1976, 737 pages; AAT 7706534

I included full citations in case you want to contact the university for a copy, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

These two books have English language articles on the Studiolo:

Art, the Ape of Nature: Studies in Honor of H. W. Janson (H.W. Janson (ed)).

The Medici, Michelangelo, and the Art of Late Renaissance Florence (Multiple authors)

H Niyazi said...

Thank you for the references Anon! I must track those down!

Kind Regards

yak yakker said...

Mr. Niyazi,

Late to this post; I don't know if you're still interested in sources.

I just finished reading Stephen Cambell's Cabinet of Eros, which deals specifically with the studiolo of Isabella d'Este; it's fantastically researched and written in something of a performative style:

Rose Marie San Juan has also written about Isabella d'Este's studiolo here:
San Juan, Rose Marie. “The Court Lady’s Dilemma: Isabella d’Este and Art Collecting in the Renaissance,” The Oxford Journal, Vol 14, no 1. 1991, pp/ 67-78).
Stable URL: stable/1360278


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