Love, Intrigue and Art: the story of Donna Albizi

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Love, Intrigue and Art: the story of Donna Albizi

What is most commonly known about Eleonora degli Albizi, is that she was the lover of Cosimo I de’ Medici, who was the Grand Duke of Tuscany from 1537 – 1569. Eleonora was a proclaimed beauty with a joyful spirit and had a son with Cosimo I. Their first child, a little girl, had passed away shortly after birth.

The life of Eleonora after Cosimo I

After two years, the affair of Eleonora and Cosimo I died out. Cosimo’s bedchamber courtier, Sforza Almeni, had leaked to Cosimo’s discontented family that he wanted to marry Eleonora. Once hearing what had happened, Cosimo was enraged and murdered Almeni with the plunge of a sword. It didn’t take long for their love to fade soon after and Cosimo wanted Eleonora out of the picture.

Eleanora was forced into marriage by Cosimo I to Carlo Panciatichi, a nobleman whose family was loyal to the Medici family and with whom Eleonora had three children. The son she had with Cosimo I, Don Giovanni de’ Medici, stayed with the Medici family.

Cosimo I de' Medici

Cosimo I de’Medici

Eleonora degli Albizi and Il Fuligno

Eleonora was later accused of adultery by her husband and in 1578, Carlo forced her into a women’s convent. That women’s convent called, Il Fuligno, is today’s location for The Medici Dynasty Show.

The building was first constructed in the 15th century and was transformed from a convent to a conservatory school for underprivileged and orphaned girls, named Educatorio di Fuligno in 1829. It has grown and developed since then and has undergone additions and renovations to the building, unfortunately losing many, but not all, of the original frescoes on the walls surrounding the inner garden.

On its upper and lower floors are beautiful and original frescoes by Bicci di Lorenzo, a popular painter and sculptor in Florence in the 1400’s. Today the building is a museum and an events venue and in its baroque style Sant’Onofrio Church, the stage is set for The Medici Dynasty Show. In the background of the stage, above the altar, is an outlined space where the painting, Cristo Crocifisso (1558), Christ Crucified by Alessandro Allori, belongs. It depicts The Virgin Mary and San Giovanni kneeling down beside Jesus Christ on a crucifix. Eleonora’s husband, Carlo, had it made for her.

Church of Sant'Onofrio

The empty space above the altar in Sant’Onofrio Church

Maybe it was a secret message between the two of them. Maybe it was to represent her life, the strife she had gone through and the sacrifices she had made. Or was he asking for forgiveness? Having no rights, no say or a choice, Eleonora was taken away from her children and subject to spend the next 56 years of her life in Il Fuligno until her death in 1634. The painting, Christ Crucified, is currently under renovation and will be back home soon.

 

Post by Tessa Cole

2016-08-04T09:02:29+00:00 July 25th, 2016|