It is said that the Medici family possessed a magic mirror, a mirror that revealed the most beautiful woman to the reigning Duke.
At some point, however, the mirror stopped working and turned dark – losing its power to unveil, as well as its function as normal mirror. The legend holds that this was due to the death of Simonetta Vespucci (revealed to Giuliano de’ Medici), and the mirror stopped ‘working’ as refusal to offer up lesser beauties in her place.
As the family was exiled from the city, and the mirror lost its function, it was placed in a storage closet.
One day however, after being in storage for many years, a servant girl entered the closet only to be greeted by ‘a woman’s face shining back at her from a cobwebbed corner’. Duke Giuliano, when showed this, was blown away by the beauty of this woman and stated: “In the whole city of Florence there is not such a face.”
He therefore commissioned the painter Andrea del Sarto, the mirror however was too smart for the Duke, and so whenever someone other than the Duke looked into the mirror they merely saw a reflection of themselves.