What a life you had Bianca Cappello! Rich, powerful and passionate! Born a Venetian lady of noble birth, you chose love over propriety and married Pietro Bonaventuri, escaped to Florence… and found your destiny with Francesco I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany… as a mistress, mother, and wife! You were loved devotedly! In 1579 you married the Grand Duke and on the 12th of June 1579, you were crowned the Grand Duchess of Tuscany at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. You were probably disliked equally strongly. You died along with Francesco in October 1587, at the famous Villa Medici in Poggio a Caiano. Some historians and scientific evidence suggest malaria fever, others believe you were both poisoned with arsenic! What a life you had Bianca Cappello! http://www.travelingintuscany.com/art/biancacappello.htm
Of all of Bianca’s Portraits, my favorite, painted by Alessandro Allori, c.1580, is in the Galleria Degli Uffizi, in Florence. She is depicted as the Grand Duchess of Tuscany, her beauty assured, elegant in an understated way, self-content, looking at us… critically thinking… are we among her supporters or her foes?
Where can we “feel” Bianca’s presence in Florence?
As soon as Bianca became Francesco’s mistress she moved from the humble lodgings of her in-laws, where she was expected to do manual work, to the Palazzo Venturi-Ginori. a splendid estate with a fine garden (so-called Oricellari Gardens) and a prestigious history. According to Giorgio Vasari, between 1483 and 1500, Bernardo Rucellai commissioned the construction of the Palazzo and the planting of the famous gardens following designs by Leon Battista Albert. It was during the same period that several meetings of the famous Neo-Platonic Academy took place in the Palazzo. In 1534, the property passed to Bianca Cappello and the Palazzo was turned into a place for leisure and entertainment. The gardens, in particular, were the stage for numerous festivities staged by Bianca Cappello, some of which… quite profane!
In 1974, Francesco, still deeply in love with Bianca Cappello, commissioned Bernardo Buontalenti to design and build a new house for his mistress, much closer to his official residence, Palazzo Pitti. The now-famous Casa Bianca Capello is one of the Florentine historical landmarks you can’t miss! The exterior decoration of the Casa, by Bernardino Pocetti, is done in the black and white sgraffito technique, in which Pocetti was considered an expert. To please the Venetian Lady, the artist designed the Medici crest along with that of the Capello family crest and motifs of marine life within an extravagance of Renaissance designs.
For a Student Activity, on “What a Life you had Bianca Cappello!” please check… HERE!