After a long and costly restoration the so-called Cosimo Panel (Pannello di Cosimo) is back on display in the Palazzo Pitti.
The panel is a lime-wood relief by Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721), who is widely regarded to be the finest wood carver ever to have wielded a chisel in England.
The panel, which measures 1.5 metres by 1 metre, was commissioned by King Charles II and sent as a gift to Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (b. 1642/r. 1670-1723). It left London on August 3rd, 1682, and was presented to the grand duke on December 16th of the same year.
The intricately-carved relief is a tribute to the friendship between the courts of England and Tuscany (note the two crowns), which is sealed by the two billing doves at the top of the panel.
In the place of honour, dangling from the trumpet of Fame, is a medallion-portrait of Pietro Berrettini (1596-1669), painter and architect. Better known as Pietro da Cortona, he was responsible for many of the ceiling frescoes in the grand-ducal apartments in the Palazzo Pitti.
Gibbons signed the panel, throwing in, for good measure, his goose-quill!
The Cosimo panel is on display in the Sala di Grotticina, a small room in the Tesoro dei Granduchi (formerly the Museo degli Argenti).