Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Biography - Bianca Capello de’ Medici 1548-1587



Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614) Portrait of Bianca Cappello (1548-1587) 1590

Bianca Capello de’ Medici (1548-1587) was a Venetian noblewoman, famed for her beauty & intellect. At the age of 17 in 1565, she impulsively eloped to marry Piero Buonaventura, an unfortunately impoverished Florentine suitor.


Fresco painting associated with the artist or the workshop of Alessandro Allori (1535-1607) Bianca Cappello (1548-1587)

The young couple fled to Florence, where Bianca soon attracted the attention of Francesco de’ Medici, the eldest son of Cosimo I, the Grand Duke of Tuscany (1519-1574).

Painting Associated with the Artist or the Worshop of Alessandro Allori (1535-1607) Portrait of Bianca Cappello (1548-1587)

Although he was married at the time to Johanna (1547-1578), a daughter of Emperor Ferdinand of Austria (1503-1564), Bianca became his mistress. Her husband Piero found employment in the Florentine public office.  He was murdered in a suspicious street attack.

Painting Associated with the Artist or the Workshop of Alessandro Allori (1535-1607) Bianca Cappello (1548-1587)

When Johanna died in 1578, Bianca & Francesco, now Grand Duke of Tuscany, married a few days later.  "In the 1570s and 1580s, Archduke Francesco de Medici (1541-1587) fumed that he would brook no interference in politics by women.  His mistress Bianca Cappello tactfully made Francesco believe her ideas had originated in his own brilliant mind.  The archduke sank so frequently into irretrievable pits of depression that Bianca effectively ran Tuscany with her friend Secretary of State Serguidi.  Together they made most of the political decisions and appointments to important posts.  Even after the archduke married his mistress in 1578, Bianca, now the archduchess of Tuscany, still remained seemingly in her woman's role in the background, quietly pulling all the strings."  (Herman, 2005, p. 156)

Painting Associated with the Artist or the Workshop of Alessandro Allori (1535-1607) Bianca Cappello (1548-1587)

In suspicious circumstances they both died on the same day in 1587 in their Villa at Poggio a Caiano following a banquet, possibly as a result of poisoning.  "...A daughter of one of the most illustrious patrician families of Venice, flourished in the sixteenth century. She became the mistress, and subsequently wife, of Pietro Bonaventura, son of the grand duke Cosmo Medici, to whom she was married privately in Florence. The grand duke of Tuscany having seen, became enamoured of Biancha; and Bonaventura was opportunely assassinated in 1574, she became first his mistress, and afterwards his consort in 1579. The grand duke, with his wife Biancha, dining in 1585 at the house of the cardinal Ferdinand de Medici, who was heir to the duchy, both were shortly after seized with violent convulsions and died. The cardinal was suspected of having contrived this catastrophe." (Wright, 1992, p. 501)

Painting Associated with the Artist or the Workshop of Alessandro Allori (1535-1607) Bianca Cappello (1548-1587)

The celebrated romance - and subsequent tragedy - of Bianca & Francesco became the subject of artists & playwrights through the 19th century.

Painting Associated with the Artist or the Workshop of Alessandro Allori (1535-1607) Bianca Cappello (1548-1587)

Unknown Artist Portrait of Bianca Cappello (1548-1587) 1580s Vienna

Unknown Artist Portrait of Bianca Cappello (1548-1587) 1580s Vienna


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