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Portrait of Alessandro de' Medici

Before December 1535
Pontormo (Jacopo Carucci), Italian (active Florence), 1494 - 1556/7
Alessandro de’ Medici (born c. 1511), duke of Florence from 1530 until his assassination in 1537, is shown not as a powerful ruler, but in a private chamber making a drawing of a woman in metalpoint. At the time, drawing was considered an acceptable activity for a gentleman, but here the reference may be to love poetry. The fourteenth-century poet Petrarch, who enjoyed a revival in readership in the early sixteenth century, wrote sonnets about a metalpoint drawing he owned of his beloved Laura. ...

Object Details
Alessandro de’ Medici (c. 1511–1537), Duke of Florence; gift to Taddea Malaspina (1505–1559), Florence and Massa Carrara. Giulio di Alessandro de’ Medici (1533–1600), illegitimate son of Alessandro de’ Medici and (probably) Taddea Malaspina, Florence, by 1571 [1]. Nicholson, location unknown. With Julius Böhler, Munich, by 1911; sold to John G. Johnson (1841–1917), Philadelphia, 1911 [2]; bequest to the City of Philadelphia, 1917.1. The painting was tracked down by Giulio’s former tutor Costantino Ansoldi, but Giulio kept the original that Ansoldi had wanted to give to Grand Duke Francesco de’ Medici. Carlo Carnesecchi, “Sul ritratto di Alessandro de’ Medici dipinto dal Pontormo,” Rivista d’arte, vol. 5 (1909), pp. 31–37; and Carl Brandon Strehlke, Pontormo, Bronzino, and the Medici: The Transformation of the Renaissance Portrait in Florence, exh. cat. (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2004), pp. 112, 114.2. See Bernard Berenson to John G. Johnson, Florence, May 9, 1911, Correspondence, John G. Johnson Papers, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Library and Archives, archives.philamuseum.org/jgj/JGJ_B001_F010_048.

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