Colnaghi Foundation Journal 04 - Page 14

New light on Cecco Bravo, a Medici painter of mythology and landscape
Fig. 3 / Vincenzo
Mannozzi, Inferno,
Florence, Gallerie
Fig. 4 / Stefano della
Bella, Destruction of
Troy, Florence, Gallerie
New light on Cecco Bravo, a Medici painter of mythology and landscape
to the same year of 1637 (fig. 2), now in the collection
of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze.13
The small, rapidly sketched figures in the works of
Della Bella, as in Ruggiero Freeing Angelica from the Ogre
(Montecatini Terme, Pistoia, Private Collection),14 are
similar to those in the small-scale paintings of Cecco
Bravo, indicating a proximity in date between the
pictures and a strong stylistic connection between the
two artists at this time.
inspired by the stage sets used for Coppola’s production
of The Wedding of the Gods and forms a pendant to Della
Bella’s Destruction of Troy, both probably commissioned
by Don Lorenzo de’ Medici in 1637 and now in the
Gallerie Fiorentine (figs. 3 & 4).16 Several members
of the grand ducal family seem to have participated
in the wedding celebrations through various artistic
initiatives, involving a variety of artists, which were
connected to the staging of Coppola’s play.
In April 1637, Giovan Carlo de’ Medici commissioned
from Della Bella a series of engravings related to
the performance of The Wedding of the Gods and the
Nocturnal Carousel, which were subsequently assembled
in booklets and distributed in 2,000 copies after the
marriage of Ferdinando II.15 Vincenzo Mannozzi’s
oval painting on black stone of the Inferno is directly
The play recounts four of the most famous stories of
the loves of the gods: two in the sky ( Jupiter and Juno,
and Venus and Vulcan), one in the sea (Neptune and
Amphitrite), and one in the Underworld (Pluto and
Persephone). In the present work, Cecco Bravo has
represented the ninth scene of the fifth act, portraying
Venus on high in her swan-drawn chariot, and then,
following her descent, dancing with her spouse Vulcan
as Jupiter gives the order for the gods to commence the
celebrations. In the Relazione delle nozze degli dei, printed
for the Grand Duchess Vittoria della Rovere in 1637,
Francesco Rondinelli (Florence, 1589-1665) writes:
At the end the Chorus of Venus emerged […],
with the goddess following on a chariot drawn
by swans […] and when Jupiter commanded
the gods to celebrate one could immediately
see a spark of joy fly through the scene,
whereupon everyone, radiant with happiness,
began to dance and sing, and one could feel
in this harmony that they, in knowing they
were full of unaccustomed gaiety, wanted the
mortals to enjoy their merriment, because it is
right to walk about and share with them…17
If the interpretation of the iconography
proposed here is correct, then 1637 is a
secure terminus post quem for the work. This
dating is supported further by Montelatici’s
involvement in the frescoing of Palazzo Pitti,
which was gradually being modernized
and decorated following the marriage of
Ferdinando II to the Princess of Urbino.
At this time, the palace was increasingly
becoming the Medici family’s residence, with
apartments for not only the grand dukes (for
summer on the ground floor and winter on
the first), but also for Ferdinando’s brothers:
Cardinal Carlo (1595-1666), Prince Don
Lorenzo (1599-1648), and the youngest two,
Giovan Carlo (1611-1663) and Leopoldo


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