Eleanor of Toledo (1522-1562), daughter of a rich, Spanish viceroy of Naples. She was married at the age of 17 to Cosimo I de Medici, manager of Florence, providing him with reputation and recognition he had not had until then.
Eleanor of Toledo, Agnolo Bronzino
She came to Pisa in 1539 and first met his future husband, then theatrically entered his palace in Poggio a Caiano.
They had a marriage full of love and eleven children. Cosimo was faithful to her and loved her.
Cosimo I de Medici, Agnolo Bronzino
Florence was a closed city and it was hard for its citizens to accept that Spaniard who surrounded herself with her countrymen at court and who ruled the city as a true mistress, haughty and confident.
Eleanor with Giovanni. son, Agnolo Bronzino
Her rank, role and character make her the lead actress. The look, the way she dresses, the jewelry, creates her own personal style and nobody can compare to her. She selects materials, lace, embroidery, silk, tailors, velvet, hairstyles ..... for herself and for her entire family. In this way she proves her supremacy and position. Cosimo creates a country that has to prove itself in the world.
Maria de Medici, Agnolo Bronzino
He orders many portraits of himself and his family, which he sends to the world to other statesmen. It was the only way to present, the only medium. Hires Agnolo Bronzino, who became the official portraitist of this family from 1540 to 1555. The portrait is realistic, true, with lots of details, especially in the wardrobe and jewelry.
Giovanni de Medici, Agnolo Bronzino
Cosimo insists on beads of rare size and purity, thus impressing the viewer to whom the concourse is intended. Their appearance is a demonstration of the solidity of their state.
Bia de Medici, Agnolo Bronzino
It was a kind of propaganda and advertisement in foreign and domestic politics of the time. The official portrait represents the state, it's not a myth, it's history. Bronzino has been painting for Eleanor for many years, at all stages of her life, from coming to Florence to suffering illness. Her charisma does not diminish, she dominates but that is why she is captured as a ruler.
It is neither romantic nor poetic nor challenging but it is a passive carrier of an important message. A stable, refined, secure mother and wife imparts the power of the state and the wisdom of the ruler. There is a cameo featuring her and Cosimo with the kids. Cameo is a symbol of the power, politics, exaltation and affirmation of an empire.
Eleanor died of malaria, 1562, very young, with only four surviving children out of eleven.
Deposition of Christ, Chapel of Eleanor of Toledo, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Agnolo Bronzino