Michelangelo’s The Dream (ca. 1533)

In 1563, when Cosimo de’ Medici, the first Grand Duke of Tuscany, founded the Accademia del Disegno in Florence, it marked a significant step toward his larger goal of creating a centralized regime structure that would channel the artistic, intellectual, mercantile, and even religious pursuits of its subjects toward the greater glory of the state and its dynastic ruler. The Accademia was intended to function as if it were a ministry for the visual arts: essentially a propaganda agency. It was a first and very successful experiment in monarchic absolutism, energized in southern Europe by the Counter-Reformation, and destined to dominate the wider political landscape for nearly two cen ...