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Raphael's Portrait of Lorenzo de' Medici II | Renaissance Prince

Portrait of Lorenzo de' Medici II by Raphael Sanzio

Portrait of Lorenzo de' Medici II
(aka Lorenzino)
Raphael Sanzio
1518, oil on canvas,
38 x 31 in. (97 x 79 cm)
©Christie's Images Ltd. 2007 de' Medici

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On July 5th 2007 a unique portrait of Italian Renaissance prince Lorenzo de' Medici II, Duke of Urbino, by Raphael Sanzio found its way to Christie's auction block, something so rare that buyers crossed the globe to view the portrait of the great art patron by the great art master. Lorenzo de' Medici II or Lorenzino as he was known is the grandson of Lorenzo de' Medici known as "Lorenzo the Magnificent" who died in 1492. It is rumored that Raphael himself painted this portrait of Lorenzo de' Medici II as an engagement gift sent to secure marriage to a woman who was cousin to Francis I, King of France.

Raphael's rendering of Lorenzo de' Medici II of 1518 depicts Lorenzo II dressed in sumptuous garb with a red-and-gold cloak with a fur-lined collar. Holding a sword and perhaps a coin or a miniature portrait of his intended, Lorenzo de' Medici is dressed beneath the cloak in a gold bodice with a silver-and-gold skirt sashed with a blue cord and sports a dark hat.

The Portrait of Lorenzo de' Medici II has been hidden away since 1968 when it was bought for $325 by a New York art dealer, Ira Spanierman, who acquired it at that price because its attribution was uncertain. The picture is of major historical significance, and most works of such importance are either in museum collections or privately owned.

The final auction price for the Medici portrait was set at $37 million, a new auction record for an Old Master work, and the painting was sold to a private buyer who chose to remain anonymous. So, once again, this fine Old Master work will probably disappear from the public eye, a sad loss to the world.

Brenda Harness, Art Historian

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