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The Medici Were History’s Greatest Patrons—and Also Tyrants. The Met’s New Show Tackles How Art Served Power

Portrait paintings are sometimes described as windows into the soul. The Renaissance likenesses presented in the Metropolitan Museum’s “The Medici: Portraits and Politics, 1512–1570” have other purposes. Their cold, opulent beauty is more akin to the calculated image curation typical of modern day influencers than to the revelation of character that permeates the paintings of the Met’s nearby Alice Neel exhibition. And that, it seems, is the point of this fascinating exhibition.
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