In February 1550, Eleonora di Toledo signed the contract and purchased the Pitti Palace from the Pitti heirs, leading to the development of the Boboli Gardens. Although this has long been known, until recently, most scholars simply ignored it and other fundamental archival evidence, treating the garden as a work of patronage by her husband, Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici. My current project traces the earliest history of the Boboli, seeking to reconstruct and interpret the project commissioned by the duchess and executed under her patronage between 1550 and her death in 1562. In clarifying what distinguishes Boboli as a work specifically made for Eleonora, rather than simply one of numerous other contemporary commissions from the Medici court, my task is to situate the garden within a broader context than has been previously employed by scholars. In this seminar, I will present examples of some of the cultural endeavors in Florence, Rome and Naples that have facilitated my most recent rethinking of the Boboli Gardens as a work made for Eleonora.
Bruce Edelstein, Former Fellow at I Tatti, is Coordinator for Graduate Programs and Advanced Research at NYU Florence, where he teaches art history and serves in an advisory capacity on academic affairs. He is: Affiliated Faculty in the Department of Italian Studies at NYU New York;s a member of the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno in Florence; and, for 2015-16, Gastwissenschaftler at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenze. One of the leading scholars on Eleonora di Toldeo, he has written numerous articles on the Medici court, and is currently on leave while writing a book on Boboli Gardens.