American University
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Fecundity, Security, Eternity: Dynastic Roles and Maternal Imagination in Bronzino's Chapel of Eleonora di Toledo

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posted on 2023-09-06, 02:45 authored by Catherine Vassaux

This thesis offers a new perspective on the relationship between the duchess Eleonora and the art of Bronzino in her private chapel of the Palazzo Vecchio, with an emphasis on her centrality to the conception of the chapel's subject matter and design. Building on previous scholarship, this project views the chapel's iconography and theological program as extensions of the allegorical images of fecundity, security, and eternity that decorated Eleonora's initial procession into Florence and which were used to construct her dynastic identity. Consequently, it is argued that the chapel imagery aided its primary viewer, the new duchess, in her duty to provide the Medici line with healthy male heirs, and provided her with the sacred model of the Virgin Mary to emulate. Also building on previous scholarship emphasizing the importance of the Eucharist to the chapel's program, this study expands on this thematic aspect by underscoring the extensive emphasis on the Virgin's maternal role in salvation as a statement of Eleonora's parallel influence in the Medici dynasty.







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