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Renaissance Splendor: Catherine de’ Medici’s Valois Tapestries

Prized possessions of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Valois Tapestries were commissioned by Catherine de’ Medici, Queen Mother of France, around 1575, and exemplify the union of art and political imagery. A series of eight room-sized hangings woven in wool, silk, and silver- and gilt-wrapped thread, they show members of the Valois dynasty at elaborate French court festivals; Catherine appears in her widow’s weeds. The tapestries were brought to Florence by her granddaughter, Christina of Lorraine, as part of her dowry when she married Ferdinand I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Long displayed, they were eventually placed in storage after the effects of light exposure had taken a serious toll on them. They were recently restored and are now on view in North America for the first time in Renaissance Splendor: Catherine de’ Medici’s Valois Tapestries, which also includes paintings, drawings, and precious objets d’art from the same period.