A FUNERAL TO RIVAL THAT OF MICHELANGELO - THE FUNERAL PROCESSION AND OBSEQUIES FOR COSIMO I DE’ MEDICI

CINI, Giovanni Battista (1528-1586) attributed author

Descritione della pompa funerale fatta nelle essequie del Ser.mo Sig. Cosimo de’ Medici Gran Duca di Toscana nell’Alma Città di Firenze il giorno XVIJ di Maggio dell’Anno MDLXXIIII.

Florence, Giunti, 1574

$3,500.00

Quarto: 20.4 x 14.4 cm. [20] leaves. Signatures: A-E4.

FIRST EDITION, first issue.

Title page within an architectural woodcut border containing the Medici coat-of-arms and a small view of Florence. Printer’s device at the colophon. Woodcut portrait of Cosimo de’ Medici on the verso of the title-page. Foxed. Bound in attractive 18th-century colored paper over thin boards. Extremely rare. No copies in North America.

This is a very rare first-hand account, commissioned by Francesco de’ Medici, of the elaborate ceremonies in Florence for the obsequies of Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (1519-1584).  It includes minute descriptions of the elaborate funeral apparatus built for the occasion. Among those who managed the artistic aspects of the spectacle was Don Vincenzo Borghini, "one of the guiding spirits of the Accademia del Disegno, an adept inventor of allegorical themes for the Medici court", who worked together with Vasari on Michelangelo's funeral.

When Cosimo died his body lay in state on a catafalque in the Palazzo Pitti for three days prior to embalming. It took almost a month to prepare for the funeral, which would last four days. The official ceremonies began with the body lying in state at the Palazzo Vecchio before being moved to San Lorenzo. The opulence and magnificence of the ceremonies that followed inspired awe.

"When Cosimo died in the Spring of 1574 he was given a spectacular funeral which was without precedent in the family history. It was a landmark in the political and artistic history of Florence. Those who arranged Cosimo's funeral remembered the style of the Emperor Charles V's staged at Brussels in 1558 and its Florentine sequel, Michelangelo's obsequies of 1564."

"Many of Vasari's pupils and others who had worked on the décor for Michelangelo's funeral were now mobilized for Cosimo's. The designer of the entire scheme was the painter Alessandro Allori, who was assisted in his negotiations by Francesco Buti. The execution of the architectural props was supervised by Giovanni Caccini…"(Borsook, Art and Politics at the Medici Court I: The Funeral of Cosimo I de' Medici, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 12. Bd., H. 1/2 (Dec., 1965), pp. 31-54)

This printed account is controversially attributed to Giovanni Battista Cini (cf. M. Feo, Cini, Giovan Battista, in: “Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani”, XXV, 1981, s.v.), a trusted man whom Cosimo took into his entourage at a young age and who took care of the staging of several shows as well as the design and construction of the apparatus and decorations set up on several court occasions. The volume opens with a sonnet by Gino Ginori and describes numerous "imprese".

Moreni, I, 321; Cat. Cavalieri, 148, nr. 721; Melzi, I, 285; Gamba, 2750; M. Schraven, Festive Funerals in Early Modern Italy: The Art and Culture of Conspicuous Commemoration. Visual Culture in Early Modernity, Farnham, 2014, p. 108 no. 42, and p. 279; M. Praz, Studies in Seventeenth-century Imagery, Roma, 1975, p. 551.