Cover image for Imagining the Americas in Medici Florence By Lia Markey

Imagining the Americas in Medici Florence

Lia Markey

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$79.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-07115-2

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264 pages
9" × 10"
68 color/58 b&w illustrations
2016

Imagining the Americas in Medici Florence

Lia Markey

“Lucidly written and beautifully illustrated. . . . Just as Medicean artists and their patrons cast their city as heir to the legacy of ancient Rome, Markey shows the myriad ways in which they were able to reimagine Florence as the discoverer and the master of the New World through the power of representation.”

 

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The first full-length study of the impact of the discovery of the Americas on Italian Renaissance art and culture, Imagining the Americas in Medici Florence demonstrates that the Medici grand dukes of Florence were not only great patrons of artists but also early conservators of American culture.

In collecting New World objects such as featherwork, codices, turquoise, and live plants and animals, the Medici grand dukes undertook a “vicarious conquest” of the Americas. As a result of their efforts, Renaissance Florence boasted one of the largest collections of objects from the New World as well as representations of the Americas in a variety of media. Through a close examination of archival sources, including inventories and Medici letters, Lia Markey uncovers the provenance, history, and meaning of goods from and images of the Americas in Medici collections, and she shows how these novelties were incorporated into the culture of the Florentine court.

More than just a study of the discoveries themselves, this volume is a vivid exploration of the New World as it existed in the minds of the Medici and their contemporaries. Scholars of Italian and American art history will especially welcome and benefit from Markey’s insight.

“Lucidly written and beautifully illustrated. . . . Just as Medicean artists and their patrons cast their city as heir to the legacy of ancient Rome, Markey shows the myriad ways in which they were able to reimagine Florence as the discoverer and the master of the New World through the power of representation.”
“An important resource for scholars of art history, material culture, print culture, and transatlantic studies.”
“The book’s scholarly apparatus and color illustrations make it a valuable resource. . . . Highly recommended.”
“Lia Markey’s Imagining the Americas in Medici Florence represents the best in Renaissance global studies. If the art of Florence enjoys canonical status, the Medici collection of artifacts and images of the New World has been more peripheral, the subject of pioneering but outdated studies by Detlef Heikamp and Hugh Honour. Revising the work of these predecessors, Markey shows how collectors and artists alike drew inspiration from a flood of new knowledge produced in the wake of discovery and colonization.”
“The Medici participated in the New World discoveries secondhand, by avidly collecting artifacts and turning these materials into images. Rather than telling the story of the discoveries, Lia Markey’s lively book tells us a story about world-making—how new information traveled and was shaped by artists, patrons, and scholars into theaters of the imagination.”
“Lia Markey’s book is pathbreaking. For too long Italian Renaissance art-history studies have been introspective and provincial. The author insists upon what Shakespeare already knew: that the Mediterranean world had opened to new places and people. Her study reveals that the Medici of Florence not only received images from and about the New World but also incorporated these distant forms and iconographies into their own visual vocabulary. Markey demonstrates that Italian artists worked not to exoticize but to familiarize the new and, in doing so, engaged with America in complex and contradictory ways.”
“Lia Markey’s new book will prove a further important resource and corrective for scholarship as it forms a bridge between traditional Italo-centric studies of the Renaissance and those of the New World, the like of which has not been attempted since Hugh Honour’s book, European Images of America (1975). Markey’s work should also be of particular interest to readers of this journal since it is one of the first books to address in detail the collecting and display of works from the Americas in an Italian context, specifically that of Florence.”

Lia Markey has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University, and she has held fellowships at Harvard University’s Villa I Tatti and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Contents

List of Illustrations

Acknowledgments

Introduction

1 The New World and Italy in the Early Sixteenth Century

2 A Turkey in a Medici Tapestry

3 The Americas in the Guardaroba Nuova

4 Francesco’s Exchange and Documentation of American Nature

5 The Stanzino and the Representation of the New World

6 Between Ethnography and Fantasy in Ferdinando’s New World

7 The Florentine Codex and Buti’s Frescoes of Amerindians

8 Stradano’s Invention of the Americas

9 The Americas Both Real and Imagined

Conclusion: Vicarious Conquest

Notes

Bibliography

Index

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