Friday, January 18, 2013

Allori, Alessandro

Portrait of Eleonora da Toledo
oil on canvas
66.5 x 49.5 cm
Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia

Eleonora da Toledo (Italian: 1522 - 1562) was a Spanish noblewoman who was Duchess of Florence from 1539. She was born in Alba de Tormes, Salamanca as the second daughter of the Viceroy of Naples. She is credited with being the first modern first lady, or consort. She served as regent of Florence during the absence of her spouse.

Eleonora became the wife of Cosimo I de' Medici, the ruler of Tuscany, whom she married in 1539. The new couple had a large gathering at the Medici Villa in Poggio a Caiano to celebrate the nuptial ceremony. As the Medici were new to their ducal status, the marriage was attractive for a variety of political and dynastic reasons. Eleonora's royal Castilian ancestors and relations with the Habsburgs provided the Medici with the blue blood they had hitherto lacked and began the process of placing them on a footing with other European sovereigns. Through her father, Eleonora also provided the Medici with a powerful link to Spain, at that time ultimately in control of Florence, so that the marriage offered Cosimo I the opportunity to show sufficient loyalty to and trust in Spain that Spanish troops could be withdrawn from the province.

Alessandro Allori (Florence: 1535 - 1607) was an Italian portrait painter of the late Mannerist Florentine school. In 1540, at age 5, after the death of his father, he was brought up and trained in art by a close friend, often referred to as his 'uncle', the mannerist painter Agnolo Bronzino.

Allori spent in Bronzino's workshop in Florence throughout his entire young life, and in much historical text Bronzino is referred to as his uncle. Allori's first known work was an altarpiece painted in 1560 for a chapel, a piece about the Last Judgment, where Michelangelo's influence can also be seen in the work. When Michelangelo died four years later, Allori prepared the decorations for the funeral.

As one of the last pupils of the Mannerist Florentine school painters, his works are in many ways homage to artists such as Bartolomeo, Leonardo Da Vinci and Agnolo Bronzino. Allori is the last of the line of prominent Florentine painters, of generally undiluted Tuscan artistic heritage, in some ways. His works are seen around the world, in museums in Rome and Florence in Italy, in Montpellier in France and also in Budapest. He is the father of the painter Cristofano Allori (1577 - 1621).