NEW YORK, NY.-
A beautifully preserved, large-scale drawing by the Florentine Renaissance artist Jacopo Zucchi (ca. 1540-1596) and a masterwork of English literature, Ariostos Orlando Furioso, (1591) were recently acquired by the Morgan Library & Museum
Zucchis drawing, The Foundation of Cosmopoli, is the Morgans most important purchase of an Italian Renaissance drawing in more than ten years. The copy of Orlando Furioso, an epic chivalric poem originally written in Italian, is one of a few printed on extra-large paper and is of uncommon quality with its forty-six, hand-colored, full-page illustrations in superb condition.
The Morgan is delighted to have acquired these two masterpieces, said Colin B. Bailey, director of the museum. They not only represent important additions to our drawings and printed books collections, but also underscore the vitality of the Morgans acquisitions policy as we continue to look for opportunities to build and refine our holdings. We are deeply grateful to the donors and supporters of the Morgan who made these purchases possible.
The Foundation of Cosmopoli is a preparatory study for a painting that decorated the Salone del Cinquecento in Florences famed Palazzo Vecchio. Depicting Cosimo de Medici on horseback, consulting with an architect about the plans for the new fortified city of Cosmopoli on the island of Elba, the composition signified Florences dominion over the Tyrrhenian Sea, which is shown as the allegorical figure at lower left. Made on the occasion of the 1565 wedding of Francesco de Medici to Johanna of Austria, the work represented the Medici ambition to figure in pan-European politics.
The Foundation of Cosmopoli was purchased by the Morgan in honor of longtime board president S. Parker Gilbert. It was acquired with funds from the Fairfax Murray Society Fund, with additional contributions from the Fellows Acquisition Fund, Seymour and Helen-Mae Askin, Diane A. Nixon, the Sunny Crawford von Bülow Fund 1978, Andrea Woodner, Herbert Kasper, Lawrence and Lucy Ricciardi, Janet Mavec, the Gilbert & Ildiko Butler Family Foundation, and Robert Loper.
The copy of Ariostos Orlando Furioso had been part of the Robert S Pirie library which was sold at auction at Sothebys on December 2. Closely associated with the Morgan in his lifetime, Robert Pirie (1934-2015) built an extraordinary collection of Francis Bacon, John Donne, and other English authors in the era before and after William Shakespeare. This acquisition has been made possible by a gift from Katharine J. Rayner in memory of S. Parker Gilbert.
It is said that Queen Elizabeth ordered John Harington, her saucy godson, to translate the nearly forty thousand lines of verse in Orlando Furioso as punishment for having shown one of the poems more ribald episodes to the ladies of the court. The copy now at the Morgan belonged to Arabella Stuart, a high-born lady-in-waiting who was imprisoned in the Tower of London for having married without royal permission. At the museum it joins the first edition of 1516 and two copies of the 1584 edition with engravings by Girolamo Porro, whose designs were the basis of Haringtons illustrations.