Written by Jacob Ferragamo
Joaneeth Spicer, an art historian of the Walters Art Gallery, visited class today to discuss the painting of Maria Solvati de’ Medici and Guilia de’ Medici, 1539. This painting features the first formally painted child of african decent. However, the when the painting was originally discover, the little girl was painted over with black pigment.
Guilia de’ Medici was daughter of Maria Solvati de’ Medici and the duke of Florance. His parents where an african slave and the Pope. Having such a painting made was a statement, it was rare to see a portrait of a women, but renaissance era paintings of people of african decent where rare. Often paintings featuring people of african descent were reserved for royalty, or those of wealth. There were examples presented to us in class of the exceptions to this trend.
As to the significance of paintings at the time, they were often commissioned in order to show the power of an individual. People like Francis I, King of france has 20+ realistic paintings of himself made, and hung around france. This not only served to popularize realistic painting even further, but popularized and familiarized his image to his subjects.
It was the significance of portraits that built up that lead to portraits of famous people being worth a lot, and then there reselling. As it turned out the Medicis ended up selling the painting when they hit a tough time. The buyer painted out the girl so she would resemble a renowned poet, Victorica Calono. Since Victorica had no children, and Maria resembled her slightly, the painting was an easy resell. Ending that mystery, and the ending of that half of class.