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The Grand Duchess of Tuscany, Johanna of Austria (1547-1578), has largely been judged unfairly by history. Born in Prague in 1547 as the last child of the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I and his wife, Queen Anna Jagiellonian of Hungary and Bohemia, Johanna was married in 1565 to the Medici prince (and later Grand Duke), Francesco I de’ Medici. Johanna was received in Florence with much pomp and grandeur; indeed, the celebrations for her wedding were among the most spectacular that Florence had ever seen. During her life as a Medici consort, however, Johanna struggled to assert dominance or command political influence over the Florentine court, and posthumously, her persona suffered further disservice at the hands of both historians and popular authors alike. Indeed, she has often been turned by the latter into a caricature of zealous piety, serving as a convenient foil to her husband’s mistress, the Venetian Bianca Capello. As with most women mistreated by the annals of history, after careful consideration of her life, a more nuanced picture emerges of Johanna. This talk aims to pay testament to Johanna of Austria and to unshackle her from passé, clichéd stereotypes. It does so by tracing her activities as a consort, patron, collector, papal favourite, as well as a pivotal member of the House of Habsburg. Moreover, in the second half of the sixteenth century, Florence was a rapidly changing cultural hub and, as will be shown, Johanna of Austria was far from a mere spectator to the cultural, artistic, and socio-political transformations taking place within Tuscan dominions.

Adriana Concin is currently an Exhibition Research Assistant at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She completed her doctoral studies at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London in 2021 with a dissertation focused on the 1565 wedding of Francesco I de’ Medici and the Habsburg Archduchess Johanna of Austria and its wider cultural implications. She has been the recipient of several fellowships, including the Eva Schler fellowship at the Medici Archive Project in Florence and the Studia Rudolphina fellowship in Prague at the Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences. Adriana has also held the Ayesha Bulchandani graduate internship at the Frick Collection in New York. Her research interests lie in sixteenth-centurycollecting, cultural exchanges between Tuscany and the Holy Roman Empire, and female patronage networks. She has published on the cultural relationships between Emperor Rudolf II and Francesco I de’ Medici (Studia Rudolphina, 2021), and the frescoes of Habsburg cityscapes in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence (Burlington Magazine, 2019). 

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