Exotic Animals in the Art and Culture of the Medici Court in Florence


Author: Angelica Groom
The book examines the roles that rare and exotic animals played in the cultural self-fashioning and the political imaging of the Medici court during the family’s reign, first as Dukes of Florence (1532-1569) and subsequently as Grand Dukes of Tuscany (1569-1737). The book opens with an examination of global practices in zoological collecting and cultural uses of animals. The Medici’s activities as collectors of exotic species, the menageries they established and their deployment of animals in the ceremonial life of the court and in their art are examined in relation to this wider global perspective. The book seeks to nuance the myth promoted by the Medici themselves that theirs was the most successful princely serraglio in early modern Europe.  

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Angelica Groom, Ph.D. (2013, University of Sussex), is senior lecturer in History of Art and Design at the University of Brighton. She has contributed chapters to edited volumes on courtly collecting and on the relationship between zoological illustrations and sixteenth-century natural history.
Table of the Medici Dynasty

Introduction and Global Perspective of Animal Collecting and Menageries

Part 1: Cultural Uses of Animals at the Medici Court

1 Zoological Collecting at the Medici Court: Practices of Exchange and Processes of Procurement
2 Menageries and aviaries in Medicean Florence
3 The Sport of the Chase: “Exotic Hunts” at the Medici Court
4 Spectacles of Slaughter and Courtly Pageants: Exotic Beasts as Symbols of Power and Colonial Ambitions

Part 2: Exotic Animals in the Art of the Medici Court

5 Animal Imagery in the service of Political Imaging
6 Medici Patronage and Early Modern Naturalism: Tensions between Scientific and Decorative Naturalism
7 The Ambrogiana Series of Animal Paintings

1 Medici Archive Project Database of Documents Relating to “exotic and unusual” Animals
2 Transcribed Extract from Vincenzio Follini and Modesto Rastrelli,Firenze antica e moderna illustrata—Describing the Serraglio de leoni near San Marco, in Florence
3 Transcribed Extract from Cesare Agolanti’s La Descrizione di Pratolino del Ser.mo Gran Duca di Toscana Poeticamente Descritto da M. Cesare Agolanti Fiorentino
4 Transcribed extract from Gateano Cambiagi’s Descrizione dell’ Imperiale Giardino di Boboli—Describing the Serraglio degli animali rari

Scholars concerned with the Medici family, animal studies, early modern courts, zoological collecting and art history.