“Robbe di fontane per la Francia”: les matériaux de rocaille envoyés par Ferdinand Ier de Médicis à Henri IV

Emmanuel Lurin


Recent discoveries in the State Archives of Florence shed a new light on the role of the Medicean artists, techniques and materials in the interplay of diplomatic relationship between Tuscany and France, a few years before Henri IV’s marriage to Maria de’ Medici. Between 1597 and 1601, numerous works of art were shipped in Paris with a very large quantity of plants, marble stones and decorative materials. This paper provides a detailed study of two shipments of minerals, cristals, seashells, corals and other marine ornaments which were specially prepared in Florence, at the request of Tommaso Francini, for the construction of artificial grottos and garden fountains in the royal mansions. It also considers the way these rocaille materials have been used in the grottos of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, highlighting a tendency at that time in France to treat rustic work as a simple technique of decoration in harmony with architecture, as exemplified by the still existing decoration of the “dry grotto” of the King’s Chapel Pavilion.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13128/opus-25312

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