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#37 Eleonora di Toledo and the Creation of the Boboli Gardens

Updated: May 9, 2022

A Conversation with Professor Bruce Edelstein, New York University Florence

Saturday, February 12th 2022

The recording of this session is available for $10.

2022 marks the 500th anniversary of the birth of Eleonora di Toledo, the second duchess of Florence, wife of Cosimo I. She is perhaps most famous as the beautiful subject of Bronzino’s largest and most important portrait in the Uffizi, but was far from being a passive ornament to the nascent Florentine court. She was her husband’s most important collaborator in transforming the Florentine republic into a duchy and refashioning the Medici as hereditary aristocrats.

Professor Edelstein, who has taught at NYU’s Florence campus since 1999, will discuss the fascinating life of this Renaissance woman. As a patron of the arts, Eleonora’s most important project was the creation of the Boboli Gardens, following her family’s acquisition in 1550 of the palace and adjacent grounds belonging to the descendants of Luca Pitti. Until her death in December 1562, this project was primarily the domain of Eleonora, although it has largely been treated in the literature as her husband’s. Dr. Edelstein will share some of the findings in his forthcoming book on the Boboli Gardens, shifting attention to the patronage of this Spanish princess and away from that of her Medici husband.

Bruce Edelstein, who received his Ph.D. from Harvard’s Department of Fine Arts, is Coordinator for Graduate Programs and Advanced Research at NYU Florence. Among his honors, he has been a visiting scholar at the Max-Planck Institute, Florence; was a Fellow at the Villa I Tatti, and in 2014, was named Honorary Member of the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, Florence. He has published widely on subjects including Eleonora di Toledo’s biography, iconography, and artistic patronage; studies on 16th century Medici gardens; and essays on works by Medici court painters and sculptors such as Bronzino, Cellini, Pontormo, and Tribolo. He co-curated the exhibition Miraculous Encounters: Pontormo from Drawing to Painting seen at the Palazzo Pitti, the Morgan Library and Museum in New York, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles (2018-2019). His book, Eleonora di Toledo and the Creation of the Boboli Gardens, will be published in 2022 by the Uffizi.

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