Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Spring cleaning at the Uffizi and revealing the Medici

The Mail Online has a report, and which is typically well illustrated, about the discovery during recent renovation work in the Uffizi in Florence of two lost murals depicting Grand Duke Ferdinand I and his son and successor Grand Duke Cosimo II. The report can be read at Uffizi renovations uncover 400-year-old fresco and human remains

These two Grand Dukes are the only Medici to re-emerge at the hands of art restorers in recent years. In 2014 the Mail Online, again, reported how cleaning and redo rotation had revealed the original form of a portrait of Isabella de Medici, the wife of Paolo Orsini. The painting, now in the collection of the Carnegie Museum in Pennsylvania, had been heavily over painted in the nineteenth century, completely changing its appearance. The illustrated article can be seen at here

Isabella (1542-76) was the daughter of Grand Duke Cosimo I and sister of both Grand Duke Francesco I and his successor Grand Duke Ferdinand I. Wikipedia has an account of her life, and links to those of her family and circle, at Isabella de' MediciShe was also the subject of Caroline P. Murphy’s biography Isabella de ‘Medici: The Glorious Life and Tragic End of a Renaissance Princess which was published in 2008. I have not read the book, but did hear an abridged version some years ago on Radio 4. Interesting and lively as it was, and one certainly even in that shortened form learned from it, I could not be as enthusiastic about Isabella as Caroline Murphy is. This daughter of the Medici seemed a bit too much the “poor little rich girl” to be really likeable, even if her story was intriguing. Her life apparently ended with her murder at the behest of a jealous husband after he became aware of her long-standing affair with his cousin. Just the tale to inspire John Webster...


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