Wednesday, January 2, 2008

de Medicis and Detroit

You may have read in the New York Times that Detroit is among the 53 Places to Go in 2008 (#40-and Rome wasn't even on the list!). The newly renovated Detroit Institute of Arts is one of the reasons that the city was included. In addition to impressive French, African and American collections, the museum houses extensive Medieval and Renaissance works from all over Europe. In particular, there is one gallery devoted to the patronage and influence of the Medici family. Not only was this Florentine banking family famous for its financial prowess, but many of its members married royalty (depicted is Eleonora of Toldeo by Agnolo Bronzini, 1550, member of the Spanish royal family who married Cosimo de Medici in 1539) and even became cardinals and popes. Countless artists in Renaissance Florence and Rome flourished through their support. The DIA gallery not only depicts portraits of various members of the family, but also objects from the workshops of the many artists, such as Donatello, who enjoyed the backing of the Medicis. Don't miss the models of Gian Lorenzo Bernini's fountains for Piazza Barberini in Rome and the exhibit on the "The Grand Tour," which portrays the journeys that wealthy young men would take to Italy in the 18th century-and the paintings and sculptures they brought home with them. Naturally, don't forget to visit the Classical gallery, where you will find Roman jewelry and Greek vases (and a demonstration of mixing wine with water, a necessity for those strong ancient vintages).

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