Raphael’s Lorenzo De’ Medici
Raphael’s Lorenzo De’ Medici
Christies London announced on May 21, 2007 that Lorenzo de Medici (1518), a portrait of sound provenance by renowned Italian Renaissance master Raffaello Sanzio, called Raphael (1483-1520), will be available for purchase as part of its Important Old Master and British Pictures auction on Thursday, July 5, 2007. On display at the esteemed auction houses King Street salerooms, beginning June 30, will be Raphaels painting, one of a handful by the artist still privately held. Owned by Ira Spanierman since 1968, issues of the works attribution to Raphael were tackled by Sir Charles Robinson (1824-1913) and firmly resolved in 1971 by the prolific Konrad Oberhuber, former director of Viennas Albertina Museum. The masterpiece is expected to garner up to Ј15 million at auction. Lorenzo de Medici was last exhibited publicly more than 40 years ago.
Interest in Raphaels works and Medicean portraiture has escalated in the wake of three recent special exhibitions: Splendor of Florence at Wall Streets Federal Hall National Memorial (October 1-November 12, 2004); Raphael: From Urbino to Rome (October 24, 2004-January 16, 2005) at Londons National Gallery and Raphael at the Met: The Colonna Altarpiece at New Yorks Metropolitan Museum of Art (June 20-September 3, 2006).
Lorenzo di Piero de Medici (Lorenzo II) (1492-1519) was the grandson of Lorenzo de Medici, il Magnifico (the Magnificent) (1449-1492), the Florentine Republics ingenious statesman, supporter of the Neoplatonic Academy and patron of the arts. He was also the nephew of Giovanni di Lorenzo de Medici (1475-1521), eventually elected Pope Leo X (r. 1513-21). Lorenzo IIs uncle is best remembered for granting Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg (1490-1545) permission to sell indulgences (remissions from the temporal punishment in purgatory for sins already absolved by the Church) in the lands within his jurisdiction. The funds raised through their purchase by the faithful were to help Albrecht repay his debt to the German Fugger banking dynasty that the cardinal incurred as a result of his elevation to various offices. Half of the sum was intended for Leo Xs papal coffers to continue construction and ornamentation of New Saint Peters Basilica. The abuse of the indulgences widespread sale provoked Martin Luther (1483-1546) to pen and post his Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences or Ninety-five Theses in 1517, culminating in the Protestant Reformation.
Raised in Rome, Lorenzo II (Lorenzino) reluctantly accepted the mantle of Florentine government from Pope Leo X in August 1513. He was subsequently made Captain General of the Florentine Republic in 1515 and received the title of Duke of Urbino from the nepotistic pontiff in 1516. His authority in Urbino was briefly eclipsed in 1517 by Francesco Maria I della Rovere (1490-1538), a condottiere (hired mercenary), the duchys ousted ruler and nephew of Giuliano della Rovere (1443-1513), the deceased “Warrior Pope” Julius II (r. 1503-13). During the War of Urbino (1517) that ensued between the bitter rival factions, Lorenzo was wounded by the ball of an arquebus or matchlock gun and retired to Tuscany. With the excommunicated Francescos infantrymen overwhelmed by the sheer number of Lorenzos troops, the penurious leader and his unpaid soldiers retreated from the duchy to Mantua. By treaty with Leo X that September, Francesco ceded control of Urbino back to Lorenzo until the Florentines untimely demise in 1520 and the popes death the following year, at which time the region reverted to della Rovere rule. An act of despicable treachery in 1538 sealed Federicos fate; the reinstated duke was insidiously poisoned and died in Pesaro, where he was lord since 1513.
A favorable consequence of the War of Urbino was the Medici popes acquisition of the vast library of Federico da Montefeltro (1422-1482), the duchys former ruler (r. 1474-82), from Francesco della Rovere. Federicos manuscripts, encyclopedic in scope and numbering more than 1000, included studies in astrology, geography, history, poetry and theology as well as works in Latin, Greek, Arabic and Hebrew. The books, musical and scientific instruments, armor and various objects depicted in the trompe loeil cabinets from the dukes two intarsia (wood inlay) studioli (rooms designed for intellectual contemplation and the reception of important guests) recall Federicos intellectual interests and military