Cosimo de Medici commissioned the Arazzi.Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution. WIkicommons/Public Domain
Cosimo I de’ Medici (1519 –1574) was one of the most important members of the Florentine de’ Medici family. He was the second Duke of Florence from 1537 until 1569, and eventually became the first Grand Duke of Tuscany.
If you visit Florence, a large bronze equestrian statue of Cosimo I by Giambologna erected in 1598, still stands today in the Piazza della Signoria, the main square of the city.

Aside from his strong and firm statesmanship, he is perhaps best known today for his great interest in culture and art. Among his goals was to proclaim through art a new golden age for Florence, and to express the magnificence and virtues of the de’ Medici family. And he was very successful in realizing these aims.
During his rule he created the famous Palazzo degli Uffizi (“offices”) that now houses one of the world’s most important collections of art, much of it commissioned or owned by various Medici. Like his more prominent ancestors, he was also an important patron of the arts, supporting, among others, Vasari, Cellini, Pontormo, Bronzino, the architect Lanci, and the historians Scipione Ammirato and Benedetto Varchi.
It was to Bronzino and Pontormo that in 1545 Cosimo I de’ Medici commissioned the creation of twenty tapestries, in Italian “arazzi”, telling the stories of Giuseppe ebreo (Joseph the Jew). The arazzi were first destined to adorn the walls of the Sala de’ Dugento (the Hall of the two hundreds) of Palazzo Vecchio (the town hall of Florence overlooking the Piazza della Signoria with its copy of Michelangelo’s David statue), but they were eventually divided in 1882 when ten of them were taken to Rome to be exhibited in the Quirinal Palace, the historic building in Rome and the current official residence of the President of the Italian Republic, where they have remained.
Now, for the first time in 150 years, the twenty beautiful Arazzi Medicei ( the de’ Medici Tapestries) will be reunited in one very unique exhibition. The tapestries in fact are still divided between Palazzo del Quirinale and Palazzo Vecchio.
“This is a Florentine story, but also an Italian and universal story”, stated Florence mayor Dario Nardella, “I’m proud to see a project that was only sketched a few months ago, becoming reality in such a short period of time”.
What makes this exhibition really interesting is the fact that it will be an itinerant exhibit organized by Expo 2015, starting in January in Rome at the Quirinale, travelling through Milano in April, and arriving finally in Florence where it will remain from September 2015 until January 2016.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity, that concretizes the fundamental ideas of Expo, meaning the power of beauty and the power of actually doing things” said the Ministry of Agriculture Maurizio Martina at the press conference of “Il Principe dei Sogni. Giuseppe negli Arazzi Medicei di Pontormo e Bronzino” (The prince of dreams. Giuseppe in the Medici tapestries by Pontormo and Bronzino).
The exhibition, curated by Louis Godart, is already considered to be one of the main ones of 2015. The Arazzi Medicei in fact are among the most famous and important ones in the world. Something not to be missed!

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