An Account of a Medici Funeral – With the Folding Plate of the Catafalque

FESTIVALS & FUNERALS. COSIMO III de’ MEDICI, GRAND DUKE OF TUSCANY (d. 1723); Del Riccio, Leonardo

Esequie dell'Altezza Reale del Serenissimo Cosimo III Granduca di Toscana celebrate in Firenze dall’ A.R. Del Serenissimo Gio: Gastone Granduca di Toscana descritte da Leonardo del Riccio.

Florence: nella Stamperia di S.A.R. Per li Tartini, e Franchi, 1725

$3,200.00

Quarto: 24 x 17.3 cm. [4], 23 pp. Collation: π2, A8, B6; ß8, ß ß 4. With an added engraved plate.

SOLE EDITION.

Bound in contemporary stiff vellum, edges of text-block sprinkled red. A very fine copy, printed on thick paper. The large, folding plate of the catafalque (51 x 35 cm.) is also in fine condition.

An account of the funeral ceremonies for Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (d. 30 Oct. 1723). The ceremonies took place in the basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence on 16 May 1724.The volume offers us a comprehensive and minutely detailed description of the funeral honors and the decorations that had transformed the church of San Lorenzo. Chief among these was the catafalque built by the architect Alessandro Galilei. The engraving of the large panel is the work of Vincenzo Franceschini, after Galilei’s design. The second part of the work contains the funeral oration, delivered by Andrea Alamanni.

To the façade of the church, draped with black damask, were affixed three large, inscribed plaques, the first of them, celebrating the deeds of Cosimo, featured the arms of the Medici, an allegorical figure of fame, and military trophies. In the four grand niches of the façade were skeletons (“simulacra of death”).

Within, the interior was hung with black draperies adorned with woven skulls, the Medici palle, and lilies; the arches were tented, the fabric fringed with white. Paintings were hung along the nave illustrating Cosimo’s achievements. These were set within trompe l’oeil that appeared to the viewer to be made of precious metals encrusted with gems. Del Riccio describes and interprets each of these paintings, and includes their mottos. In the course of his description, De Riccio mentions the frescoes by Pontormo that were destroyed a little more than a decade after Cosimo’s funeral.

The description is dense and comprehensive. All of the above is described within the first nine pages of the account. The description of the interior goes on for another eleven. Seven of those pages are dedicated solely to the description of the enormous catafalque, which is also illustrated by the large folding plate.

The final page and a half describe the funeral and the attendees, all of whom are dressed in mourning attire. Among them are the members of the senate, the city magistrates, and ambassadors of foreign nations. Two Medici princesses were also in attendance.

Cosimo III (b. 1642) was the sixth and penultimate Medici Grand Duke of Tuscany. He was the son of Grand Duke Ferdinando II (d. 1670), whose parents were Cosimo II (d. 1621) and Christina of Lorraine. Cosimo’s son, Gian Gastone de' Medici (d. 1737), who succeeded his father and presided over the funeral ceremonies described in this volume, was to be the last in this distinguished line.

Moreni I, p. 15 (not mentioning the plate). Not in Berlin Katalog, Lipperheide, Ruggieri, Vinet or Cicognara.