In the Graces of His Highness the Grand Duke: Caravaggio's Roman Patron Del Monte as a Florentine Courtier and Agent
Ladino, Marie Jacquelin
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While Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte is celebrated as Caravaggio's first major patron in Rome, his primary activities at the turn of the seventeenth century were, in reality, centered much more around his role as a courtier and an artistic agent working on behalf of Ferdinando I de' Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany. In order to further the grand duke's propagandistic agenda for himself and his state, the cardinal, from his position in Rome, advised Ferdinando on opportunities to buy and commission works of art. He also gave gifts to the sovereign, such as Caravaggio's <italic>Medusa<italic>, always with the grand duke's artistic aims in mind. Del Monte should indeed be thought of as a patron of the arts; however, his relationship with the Florentine court sheds light on an essential but perhaps understudied position within the mechanism of Italian patronage--that of the agent who works on behalf of another.