The Medici Wedding of 1589 - Saslow, James M. - Yale University Press
Art and Architecture
Performing Arts

The Medici Wedding of 1589

Florentine Festival as Theatrum Mundi

  • James M. Saslow
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Winner of the 1996 Phyllis Goodhart Gordan Book Prize given by the Renaissance Society of America

The marriage in 1589 of Grand Duke Ferdinando de' Medici and the French princess Christine of Lorraine was a landmark event in Renaissance art and architecture, theater, music, and political ceremonial. Celebrated by a month of elaborate pageantry that required a full year of preparations, the wedding mobilized the combined artistic, intellectual, and administrative forces of Tuscany at the zenith of its wealth, power, and cultural prestige. This book combines art and social history to present the first comprehensive reconstruction of the Medici wedding and in the process provides a fascinating narrative of Florentine culture during the Renaissance.

James Saslow draws on a rich trove of visual and archival sources to describe the jousts, plays, musical-dramatic intermedi, processions, and tournaments that celebrated the wedding; the artists, musicians, and architects who created and organized the events; and the bureaucratic administration that sustained this Renaissance "theater of the world." His sources include producers' daily logbooks and detailed records of the design process, staff, payments, and logistics, as well as eighty-eight set and costume drawings, paintings, and prints, which appear in a catalogue included in the book. Saslow's study will be of interest to practitioners and historians of theater, dance, music, and the visual arts, as well as to students of political and economic history and cultural studies.

James M. Saslow is associate professor of art history at Queens College, City University of New York. He is also the author of Ganymede in the Renaissance: Homosexuality in Art and Society and The Poetry of Michelangelo: An Annotated Translation, both published by Yale University Press.