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Stradano’s Allegorical Invention of the Americas in Late Sixteenth-Century Florence*

  • Lia Markey (a1)


This essay situates Giovanni Stradano’s engravings of the discovery of the Americas from the Americae Retectio and Nova Reperta series within the context of their design in late sixteenth-century Florence, where the artist worked at the Medici court and collaborated with the dedicatee of the prints, Luigi Alamanni. Through an analysis of the images in relation to contemporary texts about the navigators who traveled to the Americas, as well as classical sources, emblems, and works of art in diverse media — tapestry, print, ephemera, and fresco — the study argues that Stradano’s allegorical representations of the Americas were produced in order to make clear Florence’s role in the invention of the New World.



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This article began as a paper given at The Renaissance Society of America’s conference in Cambridge in 2005, and developed out of the final chapter of my 2008 dissertation. I am especially grateful to my dissertation advisors, Charles Cohen, Rebecca Zorach, and Clara Bargellini, and to fellow session participants at that RSA conference, Michael Gaudio and Michael Schreffler, who first provided feedback on this study. Thanks also go to past and current members of the Medici Archive Project, Lee Behnke, Surekha Davies, Sara Matthews-Grieco, Liz Horodowich, Constance Markey, Jonathan Nelson, and Susanna Rudofsky, who helped me to find, decipher, or translate sources related to the prints discussed here. At various points in its development, this study benefited substantially from the comments and suggestions of numerous readers, including Timothy Krause, Colin Macdonald, and Erika Suffern of RQ, the anonymous RQ readers, Alessandra Baroni Vannucci, Déborah Blocker, Suzanne Karr Schmidt, Jessica Keating, Alexandra Korey, Daniel Margócsy, Lisa Neal Tice, Meredith Ray, and Larry Silver. I also thank in particular Blocker for sharing her knowledge of the Alterati with me, and Manfred Sellink and Vanessa Paumen for providing me with proofs of the publication, Stradanus (1523–1605), Court Artist of the Medici.



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Stradano’s Allegorical Invention of the Americas in Late Sixteenth-Century Florence*

  • Lia Markey (a1)


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