Women in power: Caterina and Maria de’ Medici The return to Florence of two Queens of France

24 October 2008

08 February 2009

The event is a tribute to Caterina and Maria de’ Medici (Family Tree), queens of France yet both imbued with a fresh and innovative cultural approach. They were energetic regents: two women in power, both controversial, both emblematic, and both of whom left their mark on a century of European history.
400 years on, Florence is celebrating their legend by “virtually” bringing them back to their home city in a fascinating exhibition taking its cue from the recent reassembly of a series of monumental tapestries previously displayed in a very popular exhibition at the Galerie des Gobelins in Paris, and in the Château de Chambord

The 15 spectacular tapestries, all close to five meters in height and devoted to the legendary Queen Artemisia, bear witness to the way in which two Medici queens of France used powerful images to legitimize their claims to rule over warring families and factions.

To glorify Caterina, the legend of two very different Artemisias from antiquity was appropriated: the warrior queen who fought at the battle of Salamis, and the widowed queen of Rhodes celebrated as the builder of the Mausoleum dedicated to the memory of her husband. The merging of these two myths allowed Caterina to project the image of the grieving widow and the powerful ruler at the same time. The cycle of tapestries was only manufactured under Henri IV who dedicated it to Maria, focusing on the theme of the education of the ideal prince, her son, who was to become Louis XIII, sparing no expense either in yarn or in the use of gold.

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