All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Noa Turel

Advisory Committee Members

Tanja Jones

Heather McPherson

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2021

Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Jacopo Zucchi’s Age of Silver and Age of Gold, painted for Cardinal Ferdinando I de’ Medici in 1575, have been taken at face value as representations of two of the Ages of Man as described in Hesiod’s Theogony, Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Virgil’s Eclogues IV. In this thesis I argue that while these paintings utilize a traditional theme of the “Ages of Man,” long iterated by the Medici, they hold a deeper, inordinately complex narrative of Ferdinando I de’ Medici’s destined ascent to power as predicted by his astrological natal chart. Natal charts of the position of the planets at the time of birth were popular during the Renaissance and often used to foretell future events. Imagery based on horoscopes and natal charts was adopted by many illustrious members of the Medici family in order to convey their divinely sanctioned authority. The horoscopic and astrological imagery found in Zucchi’s Age of Silver and Age of Gold developed over multiple generations, starting with Lorenzo the Magnificent, Ferdinando’s great-great-grandfather. The manifestation of Ferdinando’s natal chart in the iconography of the Age of Silver will prove to reverse the traditional narrative of decline. Rather than transitioning from the Age of Gold to the Age of Silver, Zucchi’s pair was meant to be read as prophecy, portending an ascent from the Age of Silver to the Age of Gold, ushered in upon the birth of Ferdinando I, and culminating with his preordained, unlikely ascent to the role of Grand Duke of Tuscany.

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