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

In: Diplomatica
Bradley J. CavalloIndependent 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.


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.

Gift-giving vis-à-vis portraiture remains under-represented as a topic of early modern, historical discourse.1 And yet, the disparate theories and methodologies developed by contemporary scholars of the “New Diplomatic History” provide the necessary tools with which to re-evaluate otherwise familiar European artworks and edifices as components (or the consequences) of early modern diplomatic encounters and the gifting of portraits among elites.2

Within this framework, the present article offers an interdisciplinary re-consideration of the portraiture assembled by Florentine Duke/Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici (1519–74, r. 1537–74) for installation within the Guardaroba nuova (“New Wardrobe”) of the Palazzo Vecchio.3 Re-examining this artistic and architectural ensemble as an intersection of art, gifts, and diplomacy leads to the question:

Could the exhibition of portraits depicting rulers generate enough ambiguity in the minds of viewers as to the origins of said portraits that their owner need not have actually acquired them as diplomatic gifts in order to benefit from the perception of having received them as presents, and thereby augment the authority of the owner?

By displaying the collected icons of past and present kings, monarchs, emperors, sultans, caliphs, and other potentates, the Guardaroba nuova plausibly reified the extensive proportions of Cosimo’s political power as a central node within the contemporaneous, socially elite network of the “Society of Princes.” When juxtaposed with the larger, geographically oriented iconographic program of the Guardaroba nuova, the implied reception of gifts in the form of rulers’ simulacra contributed to a mise-en-scène confabulating an expansive narrative of Medici participation in diplomatic gifting over multiple generations that culminated in Cosimo himself. Ergo the Guardaroba nuova created purposeful ambiguity, i.e., it dissimulated a masquerade of Medici family agency in Mediterranean-wide power politics that bolstered the idea of Cosimo’s familial and personal accumulation of international prestige abroad thereby strengthening his own legitimate reign at home in Florence.4

The sought-for persuasiveness of Cosimo’s non-verbal dissimulation relied upon entwined cultural competences shared during the early modern period: 1. that the practice of gifting – giving and receiving gifts – played a role in claims to (and the actual forging of) diplomatic connections between rulers especially when the exchange involved portraits as this enacted the presentation of an essential part of the giver; 2. their presence, which viewers of the portraits perceived to possess an ontologically active element of the individuals portrayed.5 “Ambiguity,” as characterized within current theories about the nature of diplomatic gifts vis-à-vis portraiture, links these subjects because it is the ambiguity of gifting and the ambiguity of portraiture that aids in explicating the Guardaroba nuova as polysemic assemblage. But first, it is necessary to describe the Guardaroba nuova itself.

Guardaroba nuova

Work to redecorate and re-structure the Palazzo Vecchio aspired to refashion the old republican palace into an awe inspiring, even “sublime,” experience of Cosimo’s real or apparent power.6 In short, to create a comprehensive, ideological program of architecture, sculpture, and painting that abrogated distinctions between history and mythology (in the sense of a series of fable-narratives supportive of Medici, political control) – even humanity and divinity – in order to aggrandize Cosimo’s inheritance and achievements, and so idealize him as the embodied State of Florence and the Cosmos itself.7

The Guardaroba nuova, or “cosmographical work of the Guardaroba” (opera di cosmografia della guardarobba) as it was also known, exemplifies the many visually rhetorical forms generated within the Palazzo Vecchio to materialize Cosimo’s propaganda.8 Giorgio Vasari provided posterity with a thorough description of the Guardaroba nuova in his second edition of the Lives of the Artists (1568) wherein he states that the project had been Duke Cosimo’s own invention.9 As Cosimo’s artistic, architectural, and panegyric executor, Vasari managed the building of the Guardaroba nuova during the early and latter 1560s; installation of its components continued into the 1570s; interest waned after the deaths of Cosimo and Vasari in 1574 and ultimately the Guardaroba nuova was gradually dismantled and neglected in the 1580s.10 Because of this, the current state of the room pales in comparison with what is thought to have been its original appearance when it housed the Duke’s collection of artworks, silver, antiquities, etc.11 [Fig. 1].

Figure 1
Figure 1

Present appearance of the Guardaroba nuova, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, ca. 1563–87. Image: Provided by the author.

Citation: Diplomatica 4, 1 (2022) ; 10.1163/25891774-bja10062

What remains constitutes a slightly trapezoidal space measuring at the maximum 11.9 x 8.8 meters (39’ x 28’10”) against whose walls stand the original 3.9 meter (12’9”) tall cabinets intended to hold Cosimo’s “most precious and most beautiful belongings.”12 The faces of these cabinets are divided into three tiers, the middle and upper of which had inserted into them a series of fifty-seven detailed maps of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America (based on Ptolemaic geography) painted in the 1560s and 1570s and measuring about 1.6 x 1.6 meters (~3’9” x 3’9”).13 Then, as now restored, the cabinets surrounded a terrestrial globe 2.04 meters (6’8”) in diameter positioned at the center of the room by 1568.14 Records indicate that a timepiece made for Cosimo’s famous progenitor Lorenzo de’ Medici (1449–92, r. 1469–92) added a celestial component to the cosmographic totality; not an armillary sphere, as described in 1510 this “miraculous and artfully crafted clock show[ed] the course of the sun and all the movements of the planets.”15 To complement this instrument of horology and act as a pendant to the terrestrial globe, a celestial globe was planned but never completed. Altogether, and as envisioned in digital reconstruction and Vasari’s prose, the Guardaroba nuova comprised Cosimo’s variation on the theme of a Humanist study (studiolo) in which assembled artifacts (artificialia) and specimens of flora and fauna (naturalia) microcosmically encapsulate the cosmos [Fig. 2]. This encyclopedic universalism punned on Cosimo’s own name and hyperbolically implied his cosmic omnipotence and omniscience.16

Figure 2
Figure 2

Virtual Reconstruction of the Hall of the Geographical Maps in Palazzo Vecchio, also referred to as the Guardaroba nuova, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, ca. 1563–87. Image: © Museo Galileo, Florence.

Citation: Diplomatica 4, 1 (2022) ; 10.1163/25891774-bja10062

Cosimo’s Guardaroba nuova did resemble Vasari’s 1568 portrayal in one, politically expedient way in that the Duke had by that time amassed many score of life-sized, half-length portraits, uniformly measuring ~45 x 59 cm (~17” x 23”), and that Cosimo exhibited in three rows on the walls above the cabinets behind green curtains. According to Vasari, this cycle of artworks consisted of “three hundred natural portraits of the most singular people of the [last] five hundred years… a thing most rare.”17 Surviving records document that Cosimo hired Florentine artist Cristofano dell’Altissimo to paint 220 portraits between 1552 and 1568, and another 18 by the time of an inventory in 1574 for a total of 238.18

Cosimo and Vasari considered the cycle of portraits so important that Cristofano communicated directly with the Duke about the project, and Vasari listed the effigies according to their position in the room in relation to the cardinal directions in an unpaginated appendix to the Lives of the Artists.19 Based upon this information, and the maintenance of the maps in situ, Cosimo intended for his Guardaroba nuova to juxtapose people and places such that mercenary captains, kings, emperors, dukes and heroes appeared above maps of Africa and Europe on the north wall; cardinals and popes hung on the east wall above maps of Africa, America, Europe, and Asia; heroes, Ottoman sultans, and other Muslim rulers featured on the south wall above maps of America and Asia; poets and the illustrious of the House of Medici decorated the west wall above maps of Africa, America, Europe, and Asia.20 Seeing the maps and portraits together created the virtual experience of circumambulating the world and that this universe metaphorically revolved around the Guardaroba nuova’s central globe which the Medici court identified emblematically as the Duke himself. Vasari described this analogical relationship in an ekphrasis of his painting The Castration of Heaven (ca. 1558) for the Palazzo Vecchio’s “Room of the Elements,” explaining that the terrestrial globe or ball in the center is “body of the cosmos, which the astrologers call the world and that is the name of our lord the duke.”21 The Guardaroba nuova perpetuated this iconographic adulation and conflation of collection and collector on a grander and more literal scale than in any prior example created at the Medici court by enfolding visitors in a unified, multisensorial, representational index of Cosimo: as the Guardaroba nuova embodied Cosimo, so Cosimo embodied the Cosmos.22

The visual adjacency of maps with portraits conceptually populated Cosimo’s cosmos with a geographically grounded genealogy of historical and contemporaneous individuals renowned for their commemorative worth or elite status adjoined to paintings of Cosimo’s Medici family progenitors. The cumulative exhibition indicated that Cosimo possessed not just knowledge about the places and individuals represented but some manner of relationship with them as part of his (and his family’s) foreign policy that had facilitated gifting between the Medici and their international peers. This accords with Barbara Furlotti’s insistence that, “the act of showing an art collection… offered the owner the opportunity to claim an international reputation and for the visitors to map his political network.”23 That Cosimo conceived of the Guardaroba nuova to chart this Cosimo-centric network should not surprise in its audacity considering that, in Kurt Forster’s estimation, “in Duke Cosimo’s eyes… the worth of art was measured by its ideological value or usefulness.”24 It is in this manner that the Guardaroba nuova’s presentation of effigies diverged from almost all other preceding pictorial cycles of Neuf Preux (“Nine Worthies”) and Uomini famosi (“famous men”). Originating in the early- fourteenth century, this cultural practice consisted of compiling literary lists, or installing together a portrait series, of history’s superlative Christian or antique kings, heroes, philosophers, emperors, warriors, theologians, poets, and sometimes women.25 Renaissance patrons commissioned few assemblages wherein the retrospective nature of Uomini famosi series featured contemporaneous people, and fewer still with members of the patron’s own family.26

Cosimo’s Guardaroba nuova portrait cycle involved both representational types, exhibiting paintings of historically and contemporaneously illustrious personages alongside each other and also portraits of Cosimo’s own Medici relatives. This classificatory system emphasized genealogies of kinship and shared social class and political rank, rather than religious, political, or geographical differences.27 Contemporaneously with the ideation and construction of the Guardaroba nuova, theoretical justification for this mode of presentation appeared in the 1565 treatise on collections entitled The Inscriptions or Titles of the Most Complete Theatre (Inscriptiones vel tituli theatri amplissimi) written by the Fleming Samuel Quiccheberg. He urged that the ideal collection should include images of the collector’s familial “pedigree” and of individuals occupying a similar social role, together “serving to underline the importance of the collector and his or her symbolic identity… as enshrined within the” collection.28 Within Cosimo’s circle of more verifiable influences, the alteration of the Uomini famosi paradigm as instituted in the Guardaroba nuova obtained a practical example of its choice and arrangement of portraits from their very source. For Cosimo had hired Dell’Altissimo to paint copies of the portraits owned by famed Humanist Paolo Giovio with whom Cosimo had a patronal relationship, and who had constructed the Musaeum Jovianum on the shores of Lake Como, ca. 1537–43.29

Like preceding collectors, Giovio sought to inspire visitors with portraits of famous people paired with short biographies. Unlike traditional portraiture collections, Giovio amassed a program of contemporary and classical writers of poetry and witticisms, artists, philosophers, kings, popes, generals, and potentates from across the known world. This inclusivity expanded beyond collecting practices based on individualistic motivations – pictorial ornamentation, professional affiliation, or historical/Biblical exemplum – and into visualizing a human-cosmos of unprecedented proportions.30 Gifting determined the portraiture that Giovio acquired because as one of the premier epistolary writers of his age he exchanged letters with Pontiffs, Cardinals, and lesser potential patrons who in turn presented Giovio with their portraits or those of other potentates with whom they themselves had formed relationships of gift-giving.31 The gifted artworks that Giovio begged as favors from the original portraits’ owners positioned him as an ambassadorial surrogate for Cosimo who gathered to himself Giovio’s portraits as if they had been sent to Cosimo personally as diplomatic gifts via Giovio’s mediation.32

Hence, after his death, Giovio’s musaeum served Cosimo as a repository for portraits that disengaged their acquisition from the obligation inherent to prestation/counter-prestation expectations to reciprocate their (implied) reception.33 Cosimo’s procurement of portraits indirectly via Giovio dissimulated the actuality of Cosimo’s foreign diplomacy by ambiguating the manner in which he had acquired the portraits. This created an as if situation of familiarity and diplomatic effectiveness; Cosimo possessed these portraits as if he and his progenitors had received them directly from some of the most important and powerful individuals in the known world. For examples, Cosimo displayed the true likenesses of his immediate contemporaries the Ottoman Sultan Süleyman I, the Ṣafavid Shah Ṭahmāsp I of Persia, the Saadi Sultan Mohammed Al-Sheikh of Morocco, and the Solomonic Emperors of Ethiopia, Lebna Dengel and Asnaf Sagad I [Figs. 3 and 4].

Figure 3
Figure 3

Cristofano dell’Altissimo, Portrait of Shah Ṭahmāsp I of Persia (tammas rex pers:), ca. 1552–68. Oil on panel, 58 x 45 cm (~1’10” x 1’5”). Florence: Galleria degli Uffizi, inv. 1890 – n.6. Image: © Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo, Gallerie degli Uffizi.

Citation: Diplomatica 4, 1 (2022) ; 10.1163/25891774-bja10062

Figure 4
Figure 4

Cristofano dell’Altissimo, Portrait of Mohammed Al-Sheikh of Morocco (sceriffvs m:re:mav), ca. 1552–68. Oil on panel, 58 x 43 cm (~1’10” x 1’4”). Florence: Galleria degli Uffizi, inv. 1890 – n.2. Image: © Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo, Gallerie degli Uffizi.

Citation: Diplomatica 4, 1 (2022) ; 10.1163/25891774-bja10062

The nebulousness of when and where Cosimo had acquired these effigies combined with the viewer’s immersion into an experience of spatial and temporal omnipresence curated by Cosimo. At minimum, the Guardaroba nuova as vehicle for self-promotion prevaricated a grandiose possessive relationship between everything in Cosimo’s cosmographic alter-ego and himself.34 This uncertainty benefited Cosimo because he could manipulate interpretations of that very same possession into support for his self-promoting ideology of overlordship. Indeed, Halvard Leira and Iver B. Neumann have argued that “Renaissance and early modern European tit-for-tat and market exchange of gifts were increasingly replaced with gift-giving as a confirmation of hierarchy, at least in the eyes of the receivers” (emphasis added).35 The latent ambiguity of diplomatic gift-giving facilitated this alteration when patrons like Cosimo distanced their (pseudo) gifts from the occurrence of the gifting itself (if it had even happened at all).

The Ambiguity of Gift-Giving

Very recent literature explicating the relationship between diplomacy and gifting has pronounced the fundamental importance of ambiguity in the gift- giving process prior to the actual giving/receiving rituals and afterwards in the consequent outcomes as perceived or promoted by the participants themselves.36 The link of ambiguity and gifting existed because gift-giving rituals could be innocuous or injurious, the intentions of individuals in doubt and the appearances uncertain. The danger could be physical or socio-political, threatening bodies or reputation; the destruction of Ilium, or the demeaning of the royal majesty of a monarch.37 The potential threat of gift-giving hinged upon the breadth of interpretations open to those involved as they applied their own cultural biases or constructs, or socio-political needs.38 Because ambiguity charged gift-giving with real-world consequences, acts of giving and receiving needed to be carefully judged: was the gift of material-monetary value or symbolic value requiring reciprocation of equal or greater value? Did the gift represent (or could it be interpreted as) submissive tribute from giving inferior to receiving superior, or did it conversely embody an “artefact-based encounter” implicating, generating, or maintaining equality or status-elevating prestige for the giver and/or receiver?39 The wide variety of the gifts themselves conduced to the difficulty of disambiguating their ramifications or calculating their relative material or symbolic value.40 This was especially the case when or if the immaterial idea embedded in the object conveyed a far more valuable signal than the material worth of the object might otherwise connote or presuppose.41 In this sense, sharing a paradigmatic cultural cognizance of each other’s expectations about gift-giving and systems of evaluating gift forms gave agents of gifting transactions fuller consciousness of whether the gift-giving communicated symmetrical or asymmetrical exchanges between potential allies or antagonists of (in)determinate status.

And yet, once the circumstances of the giving and receiving concluded and the diplomatic or ambassadorial giver receded from public recollection, then the memory of what the gift-giving physically entailed and socio-politically implied became labile. For the receiver of the gift or their ancestors this presented the ideal opportunity to shape the narrative of events. Giorgio Vasari’s Lorenzo de’ Medici Receiving Ambassadors (ca. 1555–63) models the possibilities [Fig. 5].42 Ostensibly, the image imagines Lorenzo’s public reception of gifts in November, 1487 from the Mamlūk Sultan Qaitbey.43 And yet, the depiction of the gift-bearing figures with physical demeanors (body-language) suggestive of subordinates approaching a literally elevated Lorenzo as their superior transforms a verifiable, historical episode into myth that alters the status-enhancing meaning of the event.44 Lorenzo’s participation in reciprocal gifting becomes acceptance of presents as tribute.45 Commemorating Lorenzo in this manner depended on the “polysemy” of gift-giving.46

Figure 5
Figure 5

Giorgio Vasari, Lorenzo de’Medici Receiving Ambassadors, 1556–58. Buon Fresco, 345 x 280 cm (~11’3” x 9’2”). Florence: Palazzo Vecchio, Room of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Image: Provided by the author.

Citation: Diplomatica 4, 1 (2022) ; 10.1163/25891774-bja10062

The Ambiguity of Presence in Portraiture

The inherent ambiguity of gift-giving doubled when it involved portraiture because early modern cultures in Western Europe evinced belief in the ontological ambiguity of human representation.47

Elite theorists on the visual arts posited that portraits shared an ambiguously defined part of the person portrayed. Each Humanist reiteration re- enforced the tenet while deriving credibility from its classical pedigree in passages written by the Romans Quintilian in his Institutio oratoria and Pliny the Elder in his Natural History.48 Quintilian wrote that, “the images of absent things are presented to the mind in such a way that we believe we are seeing these things with our own eyes and that we are present with them.”49 Even more explicitly pertaining to art, Pliny wrote that painting transmitted the presence of the otherwise absent individual to those living in the present and also to those in posterity.50 Hence, the painted effigy extended across space and time the whole being that is/was the person depicted in part. The axiom appeared numerous times from the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries, and while these references are regarded as a “commonplace” topos they indicate an ironic perception of the ambiguity or amphiboly of vision regarding portraiture.51 In the early-sixteenth century, Baldassare Castiglione ventriloquized his wife’s voice who says of a portrait of the author that, “I caress, laugh and joke with it… and often it seems almost to respond, to indicate a desire to say something, to open its mouth”;52 in 1517, Erasmus of Rotterdam wrote that he sent a portrait of himself to Englishman Thomas More, “in order that we may be always with you, even when death shall have annihilated us.”53 While these examples might appear bathetic or banal, in his 1587 On the True Rules of Painting Giovanni Battista Armenini expressly urged painters to pursue visual ambiguity. According to Armenini, a painting’s excellence depended on the ability of the painter to counterfeit breath, spirit, mind and so soul. Dissimulating these elusive ineffables, “the visual sense remains in doubt, and it seems that what one sees is not painted but lives” (Il senso visiuo de gli huomini resta in forse, non li parendo vedere il dipinto; ma il viuo).54

An episode recorded by Vasari in his biography of the Florentine painter Fra Bartolomeo indicates that non-elite viewers shared in the paradigm that artists could beguile the visual sense unto disquiet:

As proof [that Fra Bartolomeo could paint nudes] he painted a nude of Saint Sebastian with lifelike colors, a delicate demeanor and a beauty corresponding to any similar finished work… They say that, because of its display in the church, the friars found during confessions that lady parishioners who had seen it admitted to sinning due to the gracefulness and lascivious lifelikeness given to [the saint’s figure] by Fra Bartolomeo’s skill.55

Like other instances related in the Greco-Roman heritage, the incorporeal St. Sebastian appeared with such a striking degree of verisimilitude that otherwise pious viewers responded as if the simulacra possessed a corporeal animacy of immodest, even sinful, sensuousness.56 Something similar happened in in early-seventeenth century viceregal Peru when the portrait of Spanish King Philip IV was treated to the full deference and pageantry expected of his actual presence including a fusillade of musket fire.57 Although only two examples, the physical reactions to these artworks support the supposition that early modern aesthetic theories about the ontological presence of otherwise absent (even non-existent) individuals concurred with the achievement of real-world effects.58

Apposite this behavior towards the ontologically charged surrogate and with respect to gifting and diplomacy, Sowerby has written that “when they gave their portrait, rulers were theoretically giving a part of themselves.”59 Whether personal friendships, desirable alliances, political sympathies or other motivations instigated the gift-giving, it accords with the observation made by Marcel Mauss in the “Essay on the Gift” (1925) that, “to present something to someone is to present something of one’s self” and “to accept something from someone is to accept something of their spiritual essence, of their soul.”60 Cosimo exploited such assumptions from the very beginning of his rule. In 1537 the young Duke commissioned Florentine painter Agnolo Bronzino to depict a persona that merged the sensuous grace of a poet with the raw physicality of the Belvedere Torso (first-century bce). As a gift sent to his betrothed Eleonora di Toledo (daughter of the Spanish Viceroy of the Kingdom of Naples), the Portrait of Cosimo I de’ Medici as Orpheus (ca. 1537–39) served the Duke’s “pictorial diplomacy” by subsuming his reality under a cloak of signs that idealized his identities and qualities not unlike a public relations campaign of associative branding [Fig. 6].61

Figure 6
Figure 6

Agnolo Bronzino, Portrait of Cosimo I de’ Medici as Orpheus, ca. 1537–39. Oil on panel, 93.7 x 76.4 cm (~3’ x 2’6”). Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. John Wintersteen, 1950, 1950-86-1. Image: © Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Citation: Diplomatica 4, 1 (2022) ; 10.1163/25891774-bja10062

In the same manner of image-management, the possessor-patron of portraits of other rulers could insert ambiguity into their history so-as-to control the disambiguation of their meaning for audiences. Cosimo’s portrait collection in the Guardaroba nuova exemplifies his agency in controlling such meaning-generation. The reality of how Cosimo acquired the portraits did not matter. The ambiguity of this acquisition granted him authority about their provenance to dissemble their reception as gifts, and this did matter because of credence that the well-wrought effigy instantiated an undefined but real quantum of presence of the person depicted.


The Guardaroba nuova presents a carefully constructed, unified manifestation of Cosimo I de’ Medici’s idealized universe within the heart of his regime. Just as a Medici courtier interpreted the publicly displayed Greek pun-motto “Cosmos Cosmoi Cosmos” (ΚΌΣΜΟΣ ΚΟΣΜΟΥ ΚΌΣΜΟΣ) to mean that “duke Cosimo honors the world and the world honors him, and in truth, the world is Cosimo’s,” so too the Guardaroba nuova compressed Cosimo’s intimate proprietorship of the cosmos into an apprehensible experience.62 Portraiture served a crucial function within this embodied, macrocosmic ensemble because the inclusion of scores of painted effigies manifested the apparently vast network of relationships that Cosimo and his family had established. Whether Cosimo or Medici family members had ever actually interacted or corresponded with the individuals portrayed did not matter. Rather, Tracy Sowerby’s argument applies to this early modern, Florentine context because the Guardaroba nuova as portrait gallery

established [Cosimo’s] dynastic ambitions, kinship ties, and political affinities…[and b]y virtue of their inclusion in the royal collection… the paintings of foreign potentates displayed… emphasised that the most glorious deed of the rulers depicted was the friendship they had shown

to Cosimo and his predecessors by ostensibly making themselves present in portraits as gifted presents.63 It is in this manner that the simulacra painted by Cristofano dell’Altissimo for the Guardaroba nuova arouse ambiguity in beholders because audiences cannot know for certain the origins of and conditions under which Cosimo and the Medici acquired the paintings as directly, indirectly, or at all from the individuals depicted.64 All that could be known for certain was Cosimo’s incontestable possession, and this distorted their reality as copies or originals. To utilize Jorg Kustermans’ distinction between “hierarchy” and “authority,” even as gifts of equivocal origins the existence of the portraits argued for Cosimo’s (insecure) legitimacy to authority derived from the recognizable (secure), pre-existing social hierarchy to which the portraits connected Cosimo as birthright member of the ruling elite.65 In order to insinuate that he only maintained the authority that pre-existed him within the established socio-political hierarchy, Cosimo populated the Guardaroba nuova – an acknowledged, cosmically proportioned surrogate for himself – with painted surrogates of past and present exalted individuals and rulers. Cosimo could thereby declare that he and his progenitors (had) legitimately ruled because the Medici and Cosimo (had) participated in multi-generational, diplomatic gifting rituals with foreign potentates whose gift-giving transactions had included portraits of themselves. The portraits betokened gifts from those portrayed, and so as respectful signs of (if nothing else) acknowledgment of the Medici family dynasty and so of Cosimo’s overlordship and mastery of Florence.

Consequently, to answer the question posed at the opening of this enquiry: the exhibition of portraits depicting rulers could generate enough “polysemy” and ambiguity in the minds of viewers as to the origins of said portraits that their owner did not have to have actually acquired them as diplomatic gifts in order to benefit from curating the perception of having received them as presents, and so augment their authority. Just so, Cosimo I de’ Medici employed the world-encompassing cycle of portraits displayed in the Guardaroba nuova to dissimulate the centrality of his political agency within the Mediterranean and trans-Mediterranean system of diplomacy.


I would wish to express my sincere gratitude to Editor-in-Chief Giles Scott-Smith and the anonymous reviewers of Diplomatica whose critical input strengthened this essay; to Roberta Anderson and Nathalie Rivère de Carles for inviting me to present at the 2019 Splendid Encounters viii, The Gestures of Diplomacy: Gifts, Ceremony, Body Language (1400–1750) in Toulouse, France; to Dr. Naoko Shimazu for supporting my efforts with her encouragement; to Director Dr. Michael W. Kwakkelstein and Sabine Elders of the Nederlands Interuniversitair Kunsthistorisch Instituut (niki) in Firenze who trusted and secured me as the covid-19 pandemic began in the Spring of 2020. Above all others, thanks to my brother, Dr. Joel Cavallo, my parents, Theresa and James Cavallo, and my wife, Emily Fried, md.


E.g., Cheles, L., and A. Giacone, eds. The Political Portrait. Leadership, Image and Power (London and New York: Routledge, 2020). The work of Tracy A. Sowerby and Anthony Colantuono stand out because of the novelty and force of their arguments. See Colantuono, A. “The Mute Diplomat: Theorizing the Role of Images in Seventeenth-Century Political Negotiations.” In The Diplomacy of Art. Artistic Creation and Politics in Seicento Italy, ed. E. Cropper (Milan: Nuova Alfa Editoriale, 2000), 51–76; Sowerby, T.A. “‘A Memorial and a Pledge of Faith’: Portraiture and Early Modern Diplomatic Culture.” English Historical Review 129 (537) (2014), 296–331; Sowerby, T.A. “Negotiating the Royal Image: Portrait Exchanges in Elizabethan and Early Stuart Diplomacy.” In Early Modern Exchanges: Dialogues Between Nations and Cultures, 1550–1750, ed. H. Hackett (Farnham and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2015), 159–88.


Their discourse-enriching investigations have encompassed transhistorical and transcultural examples beyond the lenses of ethnography, sociology, and the Italian Renaissance. E.g., Shifman, B., and G. Walton, eds. Gifts to the Tzars 1500–1700: Treasures from the Kremlin (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001); Bottomley, I. “Diplomatic Gifts of Arms and Armour Between Japan and Europe during the 16th and 17th Centuries.” Arms & Armour 1 (1) (2004), 5–23; Jansson, M. “Measured Reciprocity: English Ambassadorial Gift Exchange in the 17th and 18th Centuries.” Journal of Early Modern History 9 (3–4) (2005), 348–70; Martin, E. “Fit for a King? The Significance of a Gift Exchange between the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and King George V.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Third Series 25 (1) (2015), 71–98; Sowerby, T.A., and J. Hennings, eds. Practices of Diplomacy in the Early Modern World, c. 1410–1800 (London and New York: Routledge, 2017). Perhaps most groundbreakingly, Louise J. Wilkinson, Sara J. Wolfson, and their peers have published essays that belie the gendered presumption of gifting as the purview of male elites. See Wilkinson, L.J., and S.J. Wolfson, “Introduction: Premodern Queenship and Diplomacy.” Women’s History Review 30 (5) (2021), 713–22; see also Sowerby, T.A. “Early Modern Queens Consort and Dowager and Diplomatic Gifts.” Women’s History Review 30 (5) (2020), 723–37. Their work fills the lacuna, and implicitly contends with Claude Lévy-Strauss’ “gendered logic,” identified by I.B. Neumann who wrote that the “[h]istorical gendering of diplomacy remains an under-researched area in need of more attention.” Neumann, I.B. “Diplomatic Gifts as Ordering Devices.” Hague Journal of Diplomacy 16 (1) (2021), 189. Altogether, these publications of the past twenty years ostensibly respond to Christian Windler’s lament in 2000 that “diplomatic historians have shown little interest in gifts [and] have not provided any systematic studies of this practice,” by looking past “archaic” and Eurocentric assumptions about the nature and origins of gifting related to diplomacy by operating across disciplines and explicating subjects impelled by the “global” and “material” turns within the Academy. See Windler, C. “Tributes and Presents in Franco-Tunisian Diplomacy.” Journal of Early Modern History 4 (2) (2000), 170. E.g., Osteen, M., ed. The Question of the Gift: Essays Across Disciplines (London; New York: Routledge, 2002); Eaton, N. “Between Mimesis and Alterity: Art, Gift, and Diplomacy in Colonial India, 1770–1800.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 46 (4) (2006), 816–44; Kalikowski-Smith, S. “‘The Friendship of Kings was in the Ambassadors: Portuguese Diplomatic Embassies in Asia and Africa during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.” Portuguese Studies 22 (1) (2006), 101–34; Körber, U. “Reflections on Cultural Exchange and Commercial Relations in Sixteenth-Century Asia: A Portuguese Nobleman’s Lacquered Mughal Shield.” In Portugal, Jesuits, and Japan: Spiritual Beliefs and Earthly Goods (Boston: McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College, 2013), 45–56; Um, N., and L.R. Clark. “Introduction. The Art of the Embassy: Situating Objects and Images in the Early Modern Diplomatic Encounter.” Journal of Early Modern History 20 (1) (2016), 3–18; Kustermans, J. “Gift-Giving as a Source of International Authority.” Chinese Journal of International Politics 12 (3) (2019), 395–426; Kustermans, J. “Diplomatic Gifts: An Introduction to the Forum.” Hague Journal of Diplomacy 16 (1) (2021), 105–9. Against this backdrop, the current author acknowledges the justifiable importance to “decenter the European experience in early modern diplomatic studies” as urged by Tremml-Werner, B., L. Hellman, and G. van Meersbergen. “Introduction. Gift and Tribute in Early Modern Diplomacy: Afro-Eurasian Perspectives.” Diplomatica 2 (2) (2020), 199. An excellent, public example of such decentering was the travelling exhibition Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa organized originally by The Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University (26 January–21 July 2019). Exhibition catalogue, ed. K. Bickford Berzock (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019).


The “Old Palace” (Palazzo vecchio) was originally referred to as the Palazzo della Signoria prior to the transference of the Medici-family residence to the Pitti Palace across the Arno river.


“Dissimulation” is specifically employed here in the sense of the Italian term Dissimulatione (and analogous to “Simulation” [Simulatione]) meaning to “dissemble,” “faine” [sic], “counterfeit.” Florio, J. A World of Wordes, Or Most copius, and exact Dictionarie in Italian and English, collected by John Florio (1598) (Hildesheim and New York: Georg Olms, 1972), 109, 372. During the Renaissance, those who argued for the political necessity to dissimulate looked to historical precedents and repeated the maxim attributed to French King Louis XI that, “qui nescit dissimulare, nescit regnare” (“he who does not know how to dissemble, does not know how to reign”) See Bakos, A.E. “‘Qui nescit dissimulare, nescit regnare’: Louis XI and Raison d’etat During the Reign of Louis XIII.” Journal of the History of Ideas 52 (3) (1991), 400. See also Synder, J.R. Dissimulation and the Culture of Secrecy in Early Modern Europe (Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 2009).


The work of Arvid Guterstam et al. examining false perceptions of visual agency by viewers of others’ gazes suggests the trans-historical nature of this human phenomenon and also that it may contribute to attributing agency not only to physically present individuals but also to their replicants in the fine arts. See Guterstam, A. et al. “Implicit Model of Other People’s Visual Attention as an Invisible, Force-carrying Beam Projecting from the Eyes.” PNAS 116 (1) (2019), 328–33.


Fiorani, F. The Marvel of Maps. Art, Cartography and Politics in Renaissance Italy (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2005), 17–22; Rosen, M. “The Cosmos in the Palace: The Palazzo Vecchio Guardaroba and the Culture of Cartography in Early Modern Florence, 1563–1589” (PhD dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 2004); Rosen, M. The Mapping of Power in Renaissance Italy: Painted Cartographic Cycles in Social and Intellectual Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015). For the meaning of awe and “sublime” here, see Neumann, I.B. “Sublime Diplomacy: Byzantine, Early Modern, Contemporary.” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 34 (3) (2006), 865–88; Kustermans, J. “Gift-Giving in Byzantine Diplomacy.” Hague Journal of Diplomacy 16 (1) (2021), 155–65.


E.g., Giorgio Vasari’s painted tondo The Apotheosis of Duke Cosimo de’ Medici (ca. 1563–65) in the center of the Sala Grande’s ceiling in which Cosimo’s celestial body (as “cosmocrator or sun emperor”) radiates his power down towards the encircling personifications of aspects of Florence (its Guilds) and thus mere terrestrial humanity. See Forster, K.W. “Metaphors of Rule. Political Ideology and History in the Portraits of Cosimo I de’ Medici.” Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 15 (1) (1971), 97–98; Cox-Rearick, J. Dynasty and Destiny in Medici Art. Pontormo, Leo X, and the Two Cosimos (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984), 281–82; Van Veen, H.T. Cosimo I de’ Medici and His Self-Representation in Florentine Art and Culture, trans. A.P. McCormick (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006).


Quoted in Rosen, M. “A New Chronology of the Construction and Restoration of the Medici Guardaroba in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.” Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 53 (2/3) (2009), 288.


“Questo capriccio ed invenzione è nata dal duca Cosimo, per mettere insieme una volta queste cose del cielo e della terra giustissime e senza errori.” Vasari. G. Le vite de’più eccellenti pittori scultori e architettori nelle redazioni del 1550 e 1568, eds. R. Bettarini and P. Barocchi. 9 vols. (Florence: Sansoni, 1987), 6:252.


Rosen, M. “A New Chronology,” 293–296; Fiorani, F. The Marvel of Maps, 21, 23–26.


Rosen, M. “A New Chronology,” 285; Fiorani, F. The Marvel of Maps, 23–28; De Luca, D. “Percorsi illustri.” In Santi poeti navigatori (Florence: Polistampa, 2011), 19–35.


Rosen. M. “A New Chronology,” 294; “le più importanti cose e di pregio e di bellezza che abbi Sua Eccellenzia.” Vasari, G. Le vite, 6:250–51.


Vasari, G. Le vite, 6:251. Rosen. “A New Chronology,” 285; Fiorani, F. The Marvel of Maps, 23–25.


Thus, the reason that the Guardaroba nuova is also referred to as the “Room of the Geographical Charts” and “World map.” Rosen, M. “The Cosmos in the Palace,” 164–66, 291, 294; Fiorani, F. The Marvel of Maps, 25–26, 59; Pierguidi, S. “Theatra mundi rinascimentali: Sulla Stanza della Segnatura e la Sala della Guardaroba di Palazzo Vecchio.” Marburger Jahrbuch für Kunstwissenschaft 37 (2010), 160; Cecchi, A., and P. Pacetti, eds. La Sala delle Carte Geografiche in Palazzo Vecchio “capriccio et invenzione nata dal Duca Cosimo” (Florence: Polistampa, 2008).


Fiorani, F. The Marvel of Maps, 26 and 26n20. The 1510 record is quoted from Pierguidi, S. “Theatra mundi rinascimentali,” 160.


Fiorani, F. The Marvel of Maps, 25–26.


“[T]recento ritratti naturali di persone segnalate da cinquecento anni in qua… cosa rarissima.” Vasari, G. Le vite, 6:251.


Cristofano and fellow Florentine Alessandro Allori continued to paint portraits for this series, together completing another eighty-three by the time of an inventory of the Guardaroba nuova in 1587 and immediately prior to the transference of the portrait series to the Uffizi corridors and the Medici family’s new residence in the Palazzo Pitti. See Rosen, M. “The Cosmos in the Palace,” 287, 290–91, 454; De Luca, F. “La serie gioviana della Galleria degli Uffizi.” In Principesse e Ambasciatori. I volti della diplomazia del passato, ed. C. Acidini (Florence: Polistampa, 2012), 95–96; Agosti, B. Paolo Giovio. Uno storico lombardo nella cultura artistica del Cinquecento (Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 2008), 162n418.


“Tavola de’ritratti del museo dell’ eccellentiss. S. Cosimo Duca di Fiorenza e Siena.” Vasari, G. Le vite, 6:541–43. For the letters between Cristofano and Cosimo, see Rosen, M. “The Cosmos in the Palace,” 288n62–64, 289n65–66.


Fiorani, F. The Marvel of Maps, 24.


Giornata prima, Ragionamento primo. Sala degli Elementi: “Quello… è un corpo cosmo, che così è nominato dalli astrologi il mondo, che è dritto il nome del duca nostro signore.” Vasari, G. Le opere di Giorgio Vasari. Scritti minori. I ragionamenti e le lettere edite e inedite di Giorgio Vasari pittore aretino e la descrizione dell’apparato per le nozze del principe Francesco de’ Medici d’Anonimo, ed. G. Milanesi. 9 vols. (Florence: Sansoni, 1882), 8:22. See also Fiorini, F. The Marvel of Maps, 55–59.


Like other analogous spaces, the Guardaroba nuova “functioned as an expression of the individual revealing through its contents a sense of its owner’s ideal self.” Ruvoldt, M. “Sacred to Secular, East to West: the Renaissance Study and Strategies of Display.” Renaissance Studies 20 (5) (2006), 640.


Furlotti, B. “The performance of displaying. Gesture, behavior and art in early modern Italy.” Journal of the History of Collections 27 (1) (2015), 8.


Forster, K.W. “Metaphors of Rule,” 103.


See Salamon, A. “Les Neuf Preux: des Hommes illustres?” Questes 17 (2009), 84–88; Joost-Gaugier, C.L. “The Early Beginnings of the Notion of ‘Uomini Famosi’ and the ‘De Viris Illustribus’ in Greco-Roman Literary Tradition.” Artibus et Historiae 3 (6) (1982), 97–115; Clough, C.H. “Art as Power in the Decoration of the Study of an Italian Renaissance Prince: The Case of Federico Da Montefeltro.” Artibus et Historiae 16 (31) (1995), 19–50.


See Joost-Gaugier, C.L. “Castagno’s Humanistic Program at Legnaia and Its Possible Inventor.” Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 45 (3) (1982), 274–82.


Only the Burgundian Hapsburg Margaret of Austria had previously assembled a comparable collection (ca. 1523–1524). Margaret’s portraits indicated her ancestral lineage and so justified “her position of authority in the Netherlands,” confirmed political alliances, and acknowledged political rivalries because they all formed the ruling elite of Europe. See Eichberger, D., and L. Beaven. “Family Members and Political Allies: The Portrait Collection of Margaret of Austria.” Art Bulletin 77 (2) (1995), 237, 243–44.


See Bowry, S.J. “Re-thinking the Curiosity Cabinet: A Study of Visual Representation in Early and Post Modernity” (PhD Dissertation, University of Leicester, 2015), 91–113.


Vasari, G. Le vite, 6:239. See Aleci, L.K. “Images of Identity. Italian Portrait Collections of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries.” In The Image of the Individual. Portraits in the Renaissance, eds. N. Mann and L. Syson (London: British Museum Press, 1998), 69, 72–73n44; Minonzio, F. “Il Museo di Giovio e la galleria degli uomini illustri.” In Testi, immagini e filologia nel XVI secolo, eds. E. Carrara and S. Ginzburg (Pisa: Scuola Normale Superiore Pisa, 2007), 77–146.


Zimmermann, T.C.P. Paolo Giovio: The Historian and the Crisis of Sixteenth-Century Italy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995), 160; Cannata, N. “Giorgio Vasari, Paolo Giovio, Portrait Collections and the Rhetoric of Images.” In Giorgio Vasari and the Birth of the Museum, ed. M.W. Gahtan (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014), 71; Aleci, L.K. “Images of Identity,” 69–71.


Zimmermann, T.C.P. Paolo Giovio, 136–37, 159–61, 206.


Zimmermann, T.C.P. Paolo Giovio, 160.


E.g., In this manner of transmission, the portraits of the Ottoman sultans came to Florence as if from the hands of the Ottoman admiral and corsair Hayreddin Barbarossa. As explained by Giovio, in 1543 Barbarossa and the French galley captain Gentile Virginio Orsini dell’Anguillara had agreed to an “armistice” (amistà) to gift competitively with each other: Barbarossa and Virginio “gareggiato fra loro con gran doni, con questa conditione però, che’l Barbaro ricevesse doni alquanto di maggior valutà ch’esso non dava. Percioche Virginio con liberalità Romana donò a Barbarossa… & egli all’incontro donò à Virginio… una cassetta lavorata d’Ebano, & d’Avorio, nella quale erano undici veri ritratti de’Signori Othomanni… i quali da Virginio, che se dilettava dell’eleganza, furono stimati assai più ch’ogni altro dono. Tutti questi ritratti Virginio scongiurato con preghi grandi communicò…à me, che li potesimo far dipignere in tavole per diletto de galant’huomini” Giovio, P. Gli Elogi vite brevemente scritte d’huomini illustri di Guerra, antichi, et moderni, di mons. Paolo Giovio, trans. M.L. Domenichi (Venice: Francesco Bindini, 1559 [org. 1546]), 164–65.


Fiorani’s assertion applies here, that “to understand and explain the universe was a claim to its possession and conquest.” Fiorani, F. The Marvel of Maps, 41.


Leira, H., and I.B. Neumann. “Beastly Diplomacy.” Hague Journal of Diplomacy 12 (4) (2017), 351.


Gonzalez-Cuerva, R. “A Diamond or a Bear: the Spanish Court’s Practices of Gift-Giving with Extra-European Embassies.” Diplomatica 2 (2) (2020), 205; Windler, C. “Afterword. Gift and Tribute in Early Modern Diplomacy: a Comment.” Diplomatica 2 (2) (2020), 296; Kustermans, J. “Gift-Giving as a Source,” 401; Tremml-Werner, B. et al. “Introduction,” 199.


See Nagy, J.F. “The Deceptive Gift in Greek Mythology.” Arethusa 14 (2) (1981), 191–204; Gonzalez-Cuerva, R. “A Diamond or a Bear,” 207. The Dangers of Gifts from Antiquity to the Digital Age, eds. T. Sala, T.A. Sowerby, and A. Urakova (London: Routledge, 2021).


Herodotus recorded in Book iv, sections 130–32 of his Histories an episode exemplifying how radically different interpretations of gifts could be. He describes how, during the Persian King Darius’ campaign in Scythia, “the Scythian princes… dispatched a herald to the Persian camp with presents for the king: these were, a bird, a mouse, a frog, and five arrows… Darius gave it as his opinion, that the Scyths intended a surrender of themselves and their country, both land and water, into his hands. This he conceived to be the meaning of the gifts, because the mouse is an inhabitant of the earth, and eats the same food as man, while the frog passes his life in the water; the bird bears a great resemblance to the horse, and the arrows might signify the surrender of all their power. To the explanation of Darius, Gobryas… opposed another which was as follows: – ‘Unless, Persians, ye can turn into birds and fly up into the sky, or become mice and burrow under the ground, or make yourselves frogs, and take refuge in the fens, ye will never make escape from this land, but die pierced by our arrows.’ Such were the meanings which the Persians assigned to the gifts.” Herodotus. The Histories, trans. G. Rawlinson (New York and London: Knopf, 1997), 354–55.


For these questions, see Kustermans, J. “Gift-Giving as a Source”; Gonzalez-Cuerva, R. “A Diamond or a Bear”; Dewière, R. “‘Ismaël pria Osman de luy donner quelques Chrestiens’: Gift Exchanges and Economic Reciprocity in trans-Saharan Diplomacy (Sixteenth–Seventeenth Centuries).” Diplomatica 2 (2) (2020).


See the system developed by Neumann, I.B. “Diplomatic Gifts as Ordering Devices,” 189–92.


E.g., in 2001 British Prime Minister Tony Blair gave a bust of Winston Churchill to President George Bush in order to recall their countries’ alliance during World War ii and thus to “symbolize the full support by the British nation for the U.S. in fighting the ‘War against Terror.’” Rudolph, H., and G.M. Metzig, eds. Material Culture in Modern Diplomacy from the 15th to the 20th Century (Berlin and Boston: de Gruyter, 2016), 18.


Installed as the central ceiling panel in the Palazzo Vecchio’s “Room of Lorenzo the Magnificent.”


See Joost-Gaugier, C.L. “Lorenzo the Magnificent and the Giraffe as a Symbol of Power.” Artibus et Historiae 8 (16) (1987), 91–99; Leira, H., and I.B. Neumann. “Beastly Diplomacy,” 350.


See the analysis of “Participants’ Demeanour” in Kustermans, J. “Gift-Giving as a Source,” 405–6.


In order to leave this meaning unambiguous, Vasari recorded for posterity in his Ragionamenti (written, ca. 1557–1560; published, 1588) that the painting visualized how, “essendo egli diventato arbitro di tutti, o della maggior parte de’Principi d’Italia, gli sono intorno tutti gli Ambasciatori, che di varie nazioni erano tenuti da’loro Principi appresso a Lorenzo, per udire i suoi consigli savi e giusti per i governi de’loro Signori.” Giornata seconda, Ragionamento secondo. Sala di Lorenzo vecchio. Vasari, G. Le opere di Giorgio Vasari. Scritti minori, 8:112.


Windler, C. “Afterword,” 294–96.


Enlightenment, modern philosophical theories (e.g., of Descartes or Heidegger), and contemporary concerns about the “presence” of beings in a virtual reality do not apply retroactively. For an appropriately succinct digest of these ideas, see Zahorik, P., and R.L. Jenison. “Presence as Being-in-the-World.” Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments 7 (1) (1998), 78–89; Mantovani, G., and G. Riva. “‘Real’ Presence: How Different Ontologies Generate Different Criteria for Presence, Telepresence, and Virtual Presence.” Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments 8 (5) (1999), 4.


For the reception of Pliny the Elder’s Historiae naturalis, see McHam, S.B. Pliny and the Artistic Culture of the Italian Renaissance. The Legacy of the Natural History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013).


Quoted from Weststeijn, T. The Visible World. Samuel Van Hoogstraten’s Art Theory and the Legitimations of Painting in the Dutch Golden Age, trans. B. Jackson and L. Richards (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2008), 134n96.


Pliny the Elder, Natural History, trans. H. Rackham (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1969), 9:xxxv.ii.4, 262–63; 9:xxxv.ii.11, 268–69.


E.g., Leon Battista Alberti. On Painting and On Sculpture. The Latin Texts of De Pictura and De Statua, trans. C. Grayson (London: Phaidon, 1972), ii.xxv, 60–61. For the 1436 edition in volgare, see Alberti, L.B. Opere volgari. Trattati d’arte, Ludi rerum mathematicarum, Grammatica della lingua toscana, Opuscoli amatori, Lettere, ed. C. Grayson, 3 vols. (Bari: G. Laterza, 1973), 3:ii.xxv, 44.


Quoted in Rosand, D. “The Portrait, the Courtier, and Death,” in Castglione. The Ideal and the Real in Renaissance Culture, eds. R.W. Hanning and D. Rosand (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1983), 94, 126n2.


Quoted in Rosand, D. “The Portrait, the Courtier, and Death,” 94, 126n3.


Armenini, G.B. De’ veri precetti della pittura (Hildesheim; New York: G. Olms, 1971), 143.


“[E]ra stato morso più volte che non sapeva fare gli ignudi. Volse egli dunque mettersi a pruova, e con fatiche mostrare ch’era attissimo ad ogni eccellente lavoro di quella arte come alcuno altro. Laonde per prova fece in un quadro un San Sebastiano ignudo con colorito molto alla carne simile, di dolce aria, e di corrispondente bellezza alla persona parimente finite, dove infinite lode acquisto appresso agli artefici. Dicesi che stando in chiesa per mostra questa figura, avevano trovato i frati nelle confessioni donne che nel guardarlo avevano peccato per la leggiadria e lasciva imitazione del vivo datagli dalla virtù di fra’ Bartolomeo.” Vasari, G. Le vite, 4:97.


For an analysis of this topic, see Van Eck, C. “Living Statues: Alfred Gell’s Art and Agency, Living Presence Responses and the Sublime.” Art History 33 (4) (2010), 642–59.


Osorio, A.B. “The King in Lima: Simulacra, Ritual, and Rule in Seventeenth-Century Peru.” Hispanic American Historical Review 84 (3) (2004), 447–48.


It does not necessitate extended analyses of early modern visual theories about extramission or intromission to infer that if a representation of a human being causes a physical or psychological reaction in the person viewing the representation, then that representation exhibits or demonstrates or possesses a degree of presence sufficient to argue for its ontological existence. See Weststeijn, T. “‘Painting’s Enchanting Poison’: Artistic Efficacy and the Transfer of Spirits.” In Spirits Unseen. The Representation of Subtle Bodies in Early Modern European Culture, eds. C. Göttler and W. Neuber (Leiden: Brill, 2008), 141–78.


Sowerby, T.A. “‘A Memorial and a Pledge,’” 301–2, 315.


“[P]résenter quelque chose à quelqu’un c’est présenter quelque chose de soi”; “accepter quelque chose de quelqu’un, c’est accepter quelque chose de son essence spirituelle, de son âme.” Mauss, M. “Essai sur le don. Forme et raison de l’échange dans les sociétés archaïques.” L’Année Sociologique, nouvelle série 1 (1923–24), 49.


Simon, R.B. “Bronzino’s ‘Cosimo I de’ Medici as Orpheus.’” Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin 81 (348) (1985), 17; Marsh, D., and P. Fawcett. “Branding, Politics, and Democracy.” Policy Studies 32 (5) (2011), 515–30; Scammell, M. “Politics and Image: The Conceptual Value of Branding.” Journal of Political Marketing 14 (1–2) (2015), 7–18.


“[I]l duca Cosimo honora il mondo, e ‘l mondo lui, o vero, che ‘l mondo è di Cosimo e egli è di lui.” Quoted in Cox-Rearick. J. Dynasty and Destiny, 279.


Sowerby, T.A. “‘A Memorial and a Pledge,’” 324.


When the Venetian ambassador visited Florence in 1576, the courtier Alessandro Pezzano arrived as a part of the diplomatic entourage. In the following year, Pezzano published a laudatory description of the magnificence displayed by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Francesco I de’ Medici who hosted the Venetians in his own Palazzo Pitti. Pezzano’s detailed ekphrasis of the palace included recording the identities of each of the 130 portraits distributed throughout the publicly accessible rooms, and yet Pezzano did not know, and so left anonymous, the identity of the responsible painter. All that apparently mattered to Pezzano was to inform his readers of the awe-inspiring fascination of the Grand Ducal portrait collection. See Mosco, M. “Una ‘descrittione dell’apparato delle stanze del palazzo de’pitti in fiorenza’ edita a Venezia nel 1577.” Antichità viva. Rassegna d’arte 19 (2) (1980), 5–20.


Kustermans, J. “Gift-Giving as a Source,” 397–402, 408.

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