The Italian Giraffe

Giraffomania

The Italian Giraffe

I had to go to Florence… I did, from May 6 to 10, 2013.

Because the first giraffe to go to Europe was Florentine! A diplomatic gift presented to Lorenzo de Medici in 1486. Several Italian artists of the time painted the beautiful foreigner (Vasari, Ghirlandaio, Bacchiacca).

She was the envy of many, since in a letter dated 15 April 1489, the daughter of the King of France Louis XI, Anne de Beaujeu, used her best writing ability to ask the Prince of Florence for an immense favour:

“I wish to ask you to send me the giraffe, a creature in the world that I have the greatest desire to see, and if there is anything on my side that I can do for you, I will do it with all my heart.

The gift, however, remained on the other side of the Alps. And that’s probably good for this giraffe – which, however, only survived a short year in the sublime city of Florence.

Olivier LEBLEU

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