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Echoes of Women's Voices: Music, Art, and Female Patronage in Early Modern Florence
by Kelley Harness
University of Chicago Press, 2006
Cloth: 978-0-226-31659-8
Library of Congress Classification NX705.5.I82F584 2006
Dewey Decimal Classification 700.9455109032

Aristocratic women exerted unprecedented political and social influence in Florence throughout the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. During this period, female members of the powerful Medici family governed the city for the first and only time in its history. These women also helped shape the city's artistic life, commissioning works of music, art, and theater that were inscribed with their own concerns and aspirations. Echoes of Women's Voices examines the patronage of individuals and institutions, particularly convents, which have remained, until now, largely neglected by scholars.

Through commissions, patrons sought to promote a vision of the world and their place in it. The unique social norms, laws, educational backgrounds, and life experiences of female patrons meant the expression of a worldview that differed significantly from that of their male counterparts. Joining exceptional archival research with telling analysis of significant examples of music, art, and drama, Kelley Harness challenges the prevailing view that Florence saw a political and artistic decline during this period. She argues convincingly that the female domination of these years brought forth artistic patronage that was both continuous and well-conceived.

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