Thursday Seminar: Bronzino's "Cosimo de Medici as Orpheus" revisited


Thursday, March 14, 2019, 6:00pm to 7:30pm


Gould Hall, I Tatti
Agnolo Bronzino - Portrait of Cosimo I de Medici as Orpheus

Speaker: Philippe Canguilhem (I Tatti / University of Toulouse)

Bronzino’s famous portrait of the young Cosimo, now in Philadelphia, has been the subject of much commentary regarding its meaning and destination, not all concordant. To quote Elisabeth Cropper, “Bronzino’s portrait of Cosimo presents enormous problems of interpretation.” Although I do not pretend to solve them, I would like to offer some context and reflections on this artwork from a historical, cultural, and musical perspective. In my presentation, I will try to understand this picture “al senso nostro,” according to Vasari’s expression. Following Elizabeth McGrath’s methodological proposal, my purpose does not aim at reconstructing “original intentions and programmes, but rather the kind of interpretation that might conceivably have been at some time given to them [the paintings] by an assiduous courtier,” trying to “avoid cose sforza

Philippe Canguilhem is Professor of Musicology at the University of Toulouse and a senior member of the Institut Universitaire de France. In the past, he was a fellow at Villa I Tatti (2005-6) and at the Italian Academy of Columbia University (2013). His work focuses on Italian music in the sixteenth century, with a special emphasis on Florentine musical life. He has published two books on this topic,Fronimo de Vincenzo Galilei (Centre d'Études Supérieures de la Renaissance, 2001) and Andrea et Giovanni Gabrieli (Fayard, 2003). He is also interested in improvised counterpoint in the Renaissance, and has published an edition and translation of Vicente Lusitano's counterpoint treatises titled Chanter sur le livre à la Renaissance: Les traités de contrepoint de Vicente Lusitano (Brepols, 2013), and a book on polyphonic improvisation in the Renaissance, L'improvisation polyphonique à la Renaissance (Garnier, 2015).