Eleonora of Toledo
Eleonora of Toledo( 1522-1562) was the wife of Cosimo I de Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany. After the Medici line almost died out it was imperative for the couple to establish prosperity and stability to Tuscany. The previous Medici crippled the country with their excesses and debauchery. Eleonora provided the image of a perfect royal spouse. She was beautiful, charitable, pious and, most importantly, fertile. She gave birth to 11 children, five of whom were boys. The continuation of the Medici line was guaranteed.
Angolo Bronzino painted this portrait of Eleonora. In fact, this portrait was the first official portrait of the ruler’s spouse making Eleonora the standard for all “First Ladies” to come. In a public relations coup, Bronzino’s portraits of Eleonora established the legitimacy of the Medici, giving an image of a stable, normal family. Cosimo was so confident of his wife that he named her Regent whenever he frequently traveled.
Eleonora’s days were saddened by the death of some of her children and the crippling pain due to a shocking calcium deficiency. She died at 40 of malaria and tuberculosis.
The background is the Pleiades constellation. The Pleiades were the seven daughters of Atlas who were made into stars by Zeus because of their grief from the death of their siblings, the Hyades.