Cosimo I de’ Medici’s Dissimulation of Diplomacy in the Guardaroba Nuova

In: Diplomatica
Bradley J. Cavallo Independent Scholar, Duneland, Indiana, USA,

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Renaissance diplomatic relationships between sovereigns can often be understood vis-à-vis the gifting of portraiture. Such presentations enacted exchanges of an essential part of the individual portrayed – their presence. Hence, portraiture as a diplomatic gift served as an exchanged acknowledgement between rulers of their respective political authority. Using this mode of political messaging, Cosimo I de’ Medici (r. 1537–74) sought to bolster his reign by commissioning a portrait series of historical and contemporary, Mediterranean-wide potentates. When installed alongside maps and globes of the known terrestrial and celestial universe within the Guardaroba nuova, the painted effigies dissimulated multi-generational Medici involvement in international diplomacy because displaying the portraits en masse suggested that Cosimo and his predecessors had continuously received the paintings as diplomatic gifts, and thus recognition as masters of Florence.

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