A rare exhibition reveals how Medici Florence spurred an appreciation for the Islamic world

A procession of majestically robed men and women make their way down from atop a hill, flanked by horses, to greet the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus. The incorporation of gold richly accents the painting and illuminates in particular the three kings, their ornate dress signalling their exotic origins—they came from afar, from the Orient.

Gentile da Fabiano’s Adoration of the Magi (1423) lights up the beginning of the Uffizi’s exhibition Islamic Art and Florence from the Medici to the 20th Century, a rare look into the artistic exchanges between Florence and the Islamic world since the Medici rule in Florence. Great art patrons of their age, the banking family supported artistic luminaries of the time such as Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli and Michelangelo Buonarotti. Their prestigious collection forms the heart of the Galleria degli Uffizi. Largely unknown to most is their connection to the Islamic world, the subject of this unique exhibition taking place in the Uffizi and in the Bargello museums.

Florence’s relationship with the Muslim world began during the middle ages. However, it was with the Medici family, who controlled the city from the 15th to the 18th centuries, that the interest in the Orient heightened. Florence’s prosperity was due in great part to the export of textiles, especially velvet and silk, to the Middle East. In exchange, the city imported carpets, raw silk, spices, glassware, metalwork and ceramics, building cultural and artistic ties through trade that would last until the 20th century.

“This [exhibition] has been a consequence of historical studies about the formation of the collections and when and how these objects arrived in Florence,” says Giovanni Curatola, an Islamic art specialist at the University of Udine who organised the two-part exhibition. “It tells of relations between Florence and the Muslim empires, especially the Mamluk in Egypt and Syria (1250-1517) and the Ottoman (1299-1923) dynasties during the 15th and 16th centuries.” Nearby da Fabiano’s renowned painting is a life-size stuffed giraffe commemorating the gift of a live one from Sultan Qaitbay in 1487, setting the scene for what is to follow.

Read more at the source: https://www.harpersbazaararabia.com/art/exhibitions/historic-bond-between-medicis-and-the-orient

 

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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