Inv. 1890 nn. 5035, 5036
What is in a name?
The little-known but sizable panels by Filippo Napoletano introduced in two previous exhibitions as Cacciatori Orientali and Cacciatori Persiani, Oriental and Persian Hunters, were originally titled Caccia del Persiano or Persian Hunt , a moniker of the activity rather than the figures portrayed. They depict two separate hunting parties in eastward processions, one with a falcon and another with cheetahs, markers of regal distinction in Persianate courts. The scenes were painted at a time of considerable Medici identification with the Persian monarchy, pioneering engagement with Persian literary culture, a penchant for Persian calligraphy , as well as a fascination with royal hunts which served the Medici fashion themselves as hereditary monarchs in a city with strong republican traditions .
Napoletano’s patron, Medici Grand Duke Cosimo II, inherited a portfolio of privileged diplomatic relations with his royal contemporary Safavid Shah Abbas of Persia against their common Ottoman enemy. This geopolitical theater inspired much of the cultural and artistic program at the Medici court since the last quarter of the 16th-century. Throughout his reign, Cosimo hosted Persian emissaries while an armored equestrian mannequin of Shah Abbas with Caravaggio’s Medusa shield confronted another oriental warrior surrounded by Moorish knights was staged in the middle of the armory galleries built by Ferdinand I . Cosimo also inherited a rich repertoire of court festivities that cast characters from different continents of the world, regularly featuring black African figures, where the Grand Duke appeared with Persian pomp as Persian knight or king . In the immediate context of the Persian Hunt panels, during the 1616 court festivities featuring the mock battle “War of Love,” Cosimo II appeared as a Persianate King Indomoro atop an allegorical float pulled by two live camels from his extensive menagerie, while two artificial elephants pull the chariot of the African King .
 Guardaroba Medici 373, c. 177 Cat. Dipinto n. 77. The paintings appear as Cacciatori Orientali in the 2004 exhibition in Sakip Sabanki Museum in Istanbul, and as Cacciatori Persiani in the 2007 Palazzo Pitti exhibition.
 In 1619 Cosimo II received sonnets from G.B. Vecchietti casting the Grand Duke and his Dame in “imitation of the practice of Persian Poets” in Persian princely courts. That same year, in 1619, a new academy in Florence planned to adopt a Persian calligraphy as its emblem. See Yousefzadeh, “Exile and Writing Between Florence and Persianate Worlds,” I Tatti Studies, September 2021.
 Angelica Groom, Exotic Animals in the Art and Culture of the Medici Court in Florence, Brill, 2018. Marco Massetti, “New World and other Exotic Animals in the Italian Renaissance: The Menageries of Lorenzo il Magnifico and his son, Pope Leo X.” (Brill, 2018). Angelica Broom, 2018.
 Yousefzadeh, “Sea of Oman: Ferdinand I, G.B. Vecchietti and the Armour of Shah Abbas of Persia,” Rivista Degli Studi Orientali, 2018.
 For the description of 1578 wedding of Francesco I see Mahnaz Yousefzadeh, “The Burrato of the Bargello” in Toscano and Ampkaedts.,ReSignifacation, 2017. During the traditional Battle on the Bridge for the wedding festivals of Cosimo II in 1608, a figure representing Shah Abbas of Persia announced as “monarch of the Orient and the true heir and successor of Cyrus” presented his soldiers as adept at court as in combat pledged allegiance to the Gran Duke. Descrizione delle feste fatte nelle reali nozze de' Serenissimi principi di Toscana d. Cosimo de' Medici, e Maria Maddalena arciduchessa d'Austria (1608).
 Angelica Groom, Exotic Animals in the Art and Culture of the Medici Court in Florence, Brill, 2018.