Friday, March 22, 2013

Infernus Stradani

In an earlier post on Francesco de Medici, I mentioned one of the paintings commissioned for his private chamber called The Alchemist's Laboratory; this is the work of a Flemish-born artist who lived most of his life and produced most of his work in Florence under the patronage of the Medici court.  In Flanders he was christened Jan van der Straet (or perhaps van der Straat, 1523-1605), but in Florence his name was Italianized and he became Giovanni Stradano.  Meanwhile, internationally, he was known to many by the Latin "Stradanus."

The names of other noteworthy Renaissance figures went through similar transformations: the Danish-born scientist Niels Stensen (1638-1686) was known as "Niccolò Stenone" at the court of Ferdinando II (the fifth Medici Grand Duke), and we all call the Polish astronomer "Copernicus" (1473-1543).  Meanwhile the Genovese navigator Giovanni Caboto (c1450-c1499) called himself "John Cabot" when he convinced Henry VII of England (Henry Tudor, 1457-1509) to finance his exploration of the New World accidentally discovered by his more famous countryman "Cristobal Colon" (1451-1506).

I recently came across Stradanus' name again: in addition to the two panels in Francesco's studiolo, Stradano also produced a great many prints including a set of illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy.  Here are a few of my favorites from the Inferno:

Canto II: Beatrice calls upon Virgil

Map of Lower Hell
Canto IX: Virgil argues with the truculent demons at the Gates of Dis

Canto 34: Behold the King of Hell
Images all taken from wikimedia commons where you can find more of Stradano's illustrations.

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