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The Sydney J. Freedberg Lecture on Italian Art: Michelangelo and the Medici: From Florentine Prodigy to Tuscan Icon

Caroline Elam, editor, The Burlington Magazine, London. In this Sydney J. Freedberg Lecture on Italian Art, recorded on November 11, 2001, Caroline Elam explains the historical actualities of Michelangelo's relationship with the Medici and its effect on his reputation. Unwilling to remain under the authority of Medici dukedom and the republican government in Florence, Michelangelo lived outside his native city for 30 years until his death in 1564. During this absence from Florence, Michelangelo became the greatest living artist in Italy and the preeminent embodiment of an ideal Tuscan cultural supremacy. His status as a Tuscan icon was due in part to Medici propaganda. Duke Cosimo I recognized the importance of cultural politics in controlling the state and needed Michelangelo to that end. Elam explores how Michelangelo was unusually successful at resisting this propaganda, as well as the complexity of his own political beliefs and allegiances.