Royal portraiture was a vital part of court life during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Royal portraits were often used by monarchs to enhance their prestige and status by displaying their wealth and valuables. The children and young adults of royal families were not left out of this tradition. Rather, their depictions in these commissioned works functioned as a form of positive publicity, ensuring them not only a place in high society, but often a marriage to another suitable heir of the same age.
These young monarchs were portrayed in almost identical miniature copies of adult fashions, reflecting their future at the top of the social ladder.
Social class functioned in these paintings as a strict order to be followed.
Before culture came customs, familial and social relationships.The children were never depicted with a toy, or any form of study. Instead, they were painted like their parents and relatives: perfect carbon copies of the contemporary ideal of social grace and elegance.
However, these paintings were not simply cold portraits of future monarchs. Instead, they often allowed relatives of the children to see them, often for the first or only time. For the wealthy and influential Medici family, the successful birth and rearing of children was necessary for the continuation of the family line. Vital to the success of this family line was the constant outward expression of wealth, elegance, and social charm, and there was no better way to do this than through the portraiture of the young Medici. The portrait of Giovanni de’ Medici here exhibited with bow and arrows, is one of the earliest known portraits of a child
Giovanni of Cosimo I de' Medici ( 1543 – 1562) was the second son of the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo I and Eleonora of Toledo, he was named after his maternal grandfather.
He was destined for an ecclesiastical career, as normally happened in powerful families, while his first-born brother Francesco was instead educated in politics and the military arts.
His career was fast: he was appointed cardinal by Pope Pius IV in the consistory of January 31, 1560, at the age of seventeen, and he was immediately appointed administrator of the archdiocese of Pisa.
Probably already ill with tuberculosis, he died prematurely at the age of 19 in 1562 due to malaria, contracted when he was on the coast, between Pisa and Livorno, with his mother, his brother Garzia, who all died a few days later.
We know two famous portraits by Agnolo Bronzino of Giovanni as an infant, one with a little sparrow in his hand, one next to his mother Eleonora.
Francesco of Ferdinando de' Medici (1594 – 1614) was the fourth child of Ferdinando I de 'Medici and Cristina of Lorena.
In 1612 he was appointed prince of Capestrano, title that he kept until his death. Destined for his diplomatic career, he preferred to devote himself to military art.
He was in command of the troops sent from Tuscany in 1613 to help Ferdinando Gonzaga against Duke Savoy Carlo Emanuele I, but never entered into action because a peace was signed between the two contenders before he arrived in the Duchy of Mantua.
After going on a pilgrimage to Loreto he died shortly after his return, in 1614 at the age of twenty. By his will "Princeps Capestrani" is engraved on his grave.
Workshop of Justus Suttermans (1597-1681)
Cosimo II de’ Medici (1590-1621), was Grand Duke of Tuscany from 1609 until his death. He was the eldest son of Ferdinando I de’ Medici.
A great patron of the sciences, Cosimo is perhaps best known as a patron to Galileo Galilei, who was his childhood tutor.
Giancarlo de’ Medici (1611-1663) was an Italian cardinal from the House of Medici His father, Grand Duke Cosimo II, also bore his brother, Ferdinando II de’ Medici.
Justus Suttermans (1597-1681)
Ferdinando II de Medici was grand Duke of Tuscany from 1621 to 1670. The eldest son of Cosimo II of Medici, his reign was marked by the beginning of Tuscany’s economic decline.
Justus Suttermans (1597-1681)