Cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici

Born in 1617, Cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici lived a life of luxury and intellect. He studied science with Galileo Galilei and art under Sigismondo Coccapani. Named the Governor of Siena from 1637-1644, he became a lead patron of literature, science, and art, eventually presiding over the Accademia del Cimento, Europe’s first Academy of experimental science. His art collections, housed mostly at the Palazzo Pitti, contained mainly classical antiques, ivories, ceramics, paintings, and books. Notable works included the Ludovisi Hermaphrodite and the Venus of the Casa Palmieri by Bolognini. In 1639 he began almost exclusively purchasing paintings and came to own over 700 by the 1660s, including The Concert by Titian. In 1667 he was named cardinal and used this title to pursue his dream of creating a gallery of self-portraits by noteworthy artists. (NB)