Cosimo II as a Collector
It was Cosimo II de’Medici who enabled the Medici collection to take on a European scope and who opened it up to different artistic directions. Notwithstanding the brevity of his reign (1608-1621), the son and successor to Ferdinando I greatly increased the family’s patronage as he enlarged its collection of art. His marriage to Maria Maddelena of Austria contributed to and enriched the northern portion of the grand ducal collection, by now housed in the Uffizi and the Pitti, when the bride brought with her works by artists ranging from Albrecht Dürer to Jan Brueghel the Elder. For his part, Cosimo, perhaps under the influence of the theories of Galileo Galilei, became more and more attracted to paintings that expressed the naturalistic realism practiced by Caravaggio and his followers, exemplified by the master’s Medusa, which had been sent to Florence as a gift for Cosimo’s father. He was likewise fascinated by the variegated views of city life that were reproduced before his eyes by Jacques Callot, the great engraver from Lorraine who was in his employ, and by the painter Filippo Napoletano, who produced scenes similar to those by Callot. He was famous as well for his adherence to the ideas of Galileo and those of the papal scientist and chief physician, Johannes Faber. The grand duke had Napoletano paint “portraits" of his purebred horses and commissioned him to decorate his chamber with a series of pictures; the artist also provided his patron with works on paesina stone for the decoration of the “loggia of the palace”, today the Gallery of Statues.
Some of Cosimo II's Collection
Raphael, La Velata, Pitti
Vasari's deduction that this is Margherita Luti,or "La Fornarina", a common girl loved by Raphael, cannot be verified. The painting is presumed to date from between 1512 and 1516. Vasari saw it in the house of the Florentine Matteo Botti, whose heirs sold it to Cosimo II. in 1622.
Guercino, Apollo e Marcia, Pitti
This masterpiece from the artist's early maturity was painted, according to Malvasia (1678) for Grand Duke Cosimo II in 1618. The shepherds on the left were originally done for a separate canvas on which Guercino subsequently conferred an allegorical significance (Et in arcadia ego, in the Galleria Nazionale di Arte Antica in Rome. (Gregori, op. cit., p. 356)
Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith and her Maidservant, Pitti
Recorded in the Medici collections since 1637, this work probably dates from the beginning of the artist's stay in Florence in 1613; however, it may also have been sent ahead from Rome in 1612 as a calling card in anticipation of her arrival. (Gregori, op. cit., p. 338.)
Cristofano Allori, Portrait of Cosimo II de'Medici, Pitti (deposits)
Cristofano Allori, Portrait of Maria Maddelena of Austria, Pitti (deposits)
Filipo Napoletano, Fair at Impruneta, Pitti
Cosimo II, his wife, Maria Maddelana of Austria, and one of their children are represented in foreground of this picture. (Chiarini, Palazzo Pitti..., op. cit., p. 69.)