<- Home <- Arhive <- Vol. 24, Issue 1, March 2016

Rom J Leg Med24(1)39-46(2016)
© Romanian Society of Legal Medicine

Craniofacial superimposition studies on a set of Cosimo I de’ Medici’s (1519-1574) and Eleonora di Toledo’s (1522-1562) portraits

I. Marota, C. Olivieri, A. Fornaciari, S. Luciani

Abstract: A set of portraits of the Florentine grand duke Cosimo I de’ Medici (1519-1574) and of his wife Eleonora di Toledo (1522–1562) painted by two major representatives of Florentine Mannerism (Italian Late Renaissance), Pontormo and Bronzino was compared with the skulls of the two subjects utilizing the forensic technique of craniofacial superimposition. The results show that, in the case of Cosimo I, both a painting (Pontormo, workshop of, Cosimo I de’ Medici, 1537) and a drawing (Pontormo, Cosimo I de’ Medici in Profile, 1537) show lack of fit with the skull in four points (the glabellar outline, the depth of the nasal bridge, the bony lateral wall of the orbit, and the outline of the frontal process of the zygomatic bone). The drawing, therefore, seems to contradict the well established idea that Renaissance painters prepared lifelike sketches of their sitters which were then modified when transferred to the painting. In the case of Eleonora di Toledo, on the other hand, craniofacial superimposition analysis reveals that Bronzino, possibly as the result of a desperate search for the “best angle” of the sitter, adopted an unusual perspective to portray the duchess (Bronzino, Eleonora di Toledo, c. 1539) possibly looking down the sitter, by standing, while the sitter was seated in front of him. The face of the sitter was subsequently, in another painting (Bronzino, Eleonora di Toledo and Her Son Giovanni, c. 1544-45) “transplanted” onto the rest of the body given the impression that the duchess “looks” at the viewer from above.
Keywords: craniofacial superimposition, forensic anthropology, skull, face.

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