The sea of Oman: Ferdinand i, G. B. Vecchietti, and the armour of Shah 'Abbās I

Mahnaz Yousefzadeh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This study is a reconstruction of a privileged relation between Safavid Shah 'Abbās I of Persia and Ferdinand de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, two sovereigns who came to power simultaneously in the years that saw the waning of Portuguese domination in the Persian Gulf. The essay brings together methods and material from diverse perspectives and disciplines to situate Ferdinand's Persian project in a particular, if shifting, context. Orig inally conceiving the endeavor as Cardinal in Rome, Ferdinand was able to actualize it only after the suspicious and sudden death of his brother, Grand Duke Francesco I. An analysis of uncatalogued documents in the archives of the Medici Oriental Press, moreover if not more importantly, offers evidence concerning the commissioning and the meaning of the iconic Medusa (1596-1598) by Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi), which analysis, too, finds its ground in the relationship of the Shah 'Abbās and Ferdinand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-74
Number of pages24
JournalRivista degli Studi Orientali
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - 2017


  • Caravaggio's Medusa
  • Ferdinand de' Medici
  • G. B. Vecchietti
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Persian Gulf

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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