London, South Kensington
9 June 2015
[MEDICI FAMILY] – A collection of the correspondence of Ottavio Falconieri (1636-1675), humanist scholar and cleric, comprising c.420 letters received chiefly from members of the Medici family, c.1658-1675, mainly in Italian, covering a very broad range of topics including politics, art and science, with autograph letters signed and letters and documents signed from: Prince Leopold of Tuscany, a long-running correspondence on the art and archaeology of Rome and elsewhere, as well as the prince's own collection of antique sculpture (c.380 items); Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany (c.22 items); Queen Christina of Sweden, Rome, 29 April 1673, asking for information on certain manuscripts; Archduchess Anna of Austria (c.3 items); Catharine of Braganza; and others. Contemporary stiff vellum binding. Provenance: Falconieri library (bookstamp); Frederick North, 5th Earl of Guildford (1766-1827, his bookplate) – André de Coppet (his sale, 2 April 1957).
A scholar of some attainment before the advent of his twentieth birthday, Falconieri – whose Urania, a verse ode to the newly-elected pope, Alexander VII, was published in 1655 – had been a youthful member of the learned circle of academics that surrounded Christina of Sweden, and had come under the patronage of the Medici family more completely after entering into scholarly correspondence with Leopold de' Medici. Science is discussed alongside art in these letters, including the astronomy that so interested Leopold. In 1673, with the support of the Medici, Falconieri was appointed papal nuncio in Flanders; many of the letters date from this period.
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Please be advised that the present manuscript was not in the collection of Sir Thomas Phillips, as stated in the catalogue.
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