Held on July 25th in Florence, this civic fete supported by the Medici family was held to promote political stability, economic prosperity, and civic pride. Students can observe Jacques Callot’s “The Fan” which portrays this celebration. Students will again recognize similarity in activities involved: processions and competitions. This festival, however, takes place on the river. Ask students to consider why. What time of year is it? What river is Florence located on?
In Callot’s painting, King Dye and King Cloth (representing the two largest guilds), both in love with the exotic Queen Barulla, seek to win her favor by bringing sacrifices to Vulcan. The King’s fleets sail to Vulcan Island where priests and cyclops danced around Vulcan statues. The competing armies disembarked and battled. The victorious dyers threw their adversaries in the water, defeated the cyclops, and stole the sacrifice. Vulcan’s wrath is then symbolized in the fireworks.
Ask students to consider the function of this dramatic display of wealth and power. Suggest an extracredit, mini-research project on the Medici of Florence or their counterparts: in France, the Valois; in England, the Tudors and Stuarts; in Spain, Austria and the Netherlands the Hapsburgs. Each of these strong families influenced the kind of celebrations held in their domains in the late sixteenth century. The various pageants of all these dynasties are discussed and compared in Roy Strong,
Splendour at Court