The Medici Family

Davide Di Poce

The Medici family originated in the Mugello region of Italy which is North of Florence, also known as a small town named Cafaggiolo. The father of the Medici family is Giovanni Di Bicci De Medici. He was born 1360, He was the founder of the Medici bank which at the time of the renaissance was Europe's largest bank. The Medici family was a huge banking family, who had lots of wealth, knowledge and were huge innovators in scholarly work, the arts, the church, and overall the whole renaissance. However, today we will focus on the Arts and some of the artists they helped bring up.

The Medici bank of Florence was Europe's most important financial institution in 15th century Europe. They were the chief bank for the Roman Catholic curia and had branches in every major city in Italy. Also since they were spread out all around Europe they had branches in London, Lyon, Geneva, Bruges, and Avignon.

In 1393, Giovanni took ownership of the branch in Rome which was already owned by his Florentine cousins. He moved the Italian headquarter to Florence in 1397, which is the official founding date of the bank. They set up a branch of banks that could be independently owned and never have to face bankruptcy because they were able to rearranging the accounts. This protected the parent bank from bankruptcy and also any individual branches. When Giovanni died in 1429, his son Cosimo, in 1435 expanded the bank beyond the Alps to Geneva. At this point they opened a woolen cloth manufacturing shop and also 3 years later in 1438 opened a silk shop. This expanded their wealth and helped grow the bank.

The Medici bank of Florence was Europe's most important financial institution in 15th century Europe. They were the chief bank for the Roman Catholic curia and had branches in every major city in Italy. Also since they were spread out all around Europe they had branches in London, Lyon, Geneva, Bruges, and Avignon.

In 1393, Giovanni took ownership of the branch in Rome which was already owned by his Florentine cousins. He moved the Italian headquarter to Florence. The official founding of the bank is 1397. They set up a branch of banks that could be independently owned and never have to face bankruptcy because they were able to rearrange the accounts. This protected the parent bank from bankruptcy and also any individual branches. Giovanni died in 1429.

In 1435, Giovanni's son, Cosimo, expanded the bank beyond the Alps to Geneva. At this point, they opened a woolen cloth manufacturing shop. Three years later, in 1438, opened a silk shop. This expanded their wealth and helped grow the bank.

Under Giovanni de Medici, was his son, Cosimo. Cosimo, was the first one to rise to power in politics. In 1434, Cosimo gained political. This is one of the first times the Medici family helped the growth of the arts during the Renaissance. Through Cosimo and his devotion toward the humanities, he supported artists such as Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, Donatello, and Fra Angelico.

Cosimo's son Lorenzo also was a huge contributor to the growth of Renaissance culture. Lorezno, who himself would often write poetry, supported Italian artists such as Leornardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Botticelli. However, Lorenzo died at the very young age of 43.

After the passing of Lorenzo, his son Piero succeeded him. He lost his power as a public figure because he set up a peace treaty with France and that was not very popular. He was exiled in 1494 and died while in exile. The family would be able to return to Florence until 1512. At the time of Piero's death, his younger brother Giovanni was a cardinal and in 1513 was elevated to Pope.

The next couple of years, the Medici family flourished. Leo X was very supported of the humanities. Just like his father, he was devoted to art. Piero's son, also named Lorenzo, was able to regain political power in Florence and that is when he had a daughter who was named Catherine. She would become the Queen of France after marrying King Henry the II. Three out of the four of her sons would end up ruling France.

Sandro Botticelli

Though the funding of the Medicis, Sandro Botticelli became a very famous painter. He was asked to be one of the main painters and to help decorate the Sistine Chapel. During his career, he worked with great Renaissance artists such as Perugino and Michelangelo.

The picture on the right is Botticelli's Inferno. The one on the left corner is named Primavera which, in Italian, means Spring.

Michelangelo

Michelangelo is another great example on how the Medici family helped develop Italian art.

Michelangelo first arrived in Florence just to take part in grammar school. However, he had no interest in pursuing school. He would spend his time near churches and would watch artists paint. He then came under the influence by a painter named Ghirlandaio who told him the technique of fresco and draftsmanship. He was only an apprentice under Ghirlandaio for a year and then moved into the palace of Lorenzo the Magnificent; one of the Medicis. There he studied classical sculpture in the Medici gardens. While in the palace, he was introduced to many great painters such as Giotto, Massaccio, and Donatello. It was under the Medicis that Michelangelo completed his first two commissions as a sculptor. Michelangelo also studied under the famous sculptor Bertoldo di Giovanni.

Because the Medici family had such a strong presence with the Catholic church, Michelangelo was given permission from the church to study human corpses to learn about the human body. After the death of Lorenzo, Michelangelo left the palace to return home. During this small time period, this is when the Medici family was exiled from Florence. Michelangelo followed the Medicis to Venice and Bolgona. In Bologna, he continued to work as a sculptor. While sculpting in Bologna, the Medicis told him to sculpt a marble cupid, but make it seem that it was dug up so the family could sell it for more money. When they sold it to a Cardinal in Rome, the cardinal soon found out about what the Medicis told Michelangelo to do. However, the Cardinal was in such shock on how good the actual piece was, he invited Michelangelo to go to Rome with the Cardinal.

The painting on the left is called The Creation of Adam and the one on the right is the work he did on the roof of the Sistine Chapel.

Leonardo da Vinci

At the age of 14, Leonardo da Vinci became an apprentice to the artist Verrocchio. For six years, he learned about metalworking, leather arts, carpentry, drawing and sculpting. When he was 20, he was already qualified as a master artist who had an established workshop of his own in the Guild of Saint Luke.

According to Florentine Courts, da Vinci actually went missing for two years. In 1482, Lorenzo de Medici funded da Vinci to create a silver lyre and to bring it to Ludovico, the Duke of Milan. The lyre was a gesture of peace. After da Vinci sent the lyre, he wrote to Ludovico and said he thought that he would be a great addition to the court of Milan. After he was accepted to the court of Ludovico, he worked in Milan from 1482-1499. During this time, he was commissioned to work on great pieces of art such as the Last supper. He was also considered to be the genius of the renaissance. His observations and inventions recorded over 13000 pages of notes, drawings, plant studies, war machinery, anatomy, and flying. He was also one of the first to every record any type of human studies, such as bone and muscular structure the heart, and vascular system.

The painting on the left is called The Last Supper and the one on the right is named The Baptism of Christ.

Decline of the Medici Family

The decline of the Medici family happened when they became more authoritarian. They did produce a more stable Florence and Tuscany but this led to a decline in culture. When the last Medici duke, Gian Gastone, died in 1737, the whole dynasty collapsed because there wasn't another male to replace him. By agreement by the European powers at the time--England, France, Austria, and The Netherlands-Tuscany went to Francis of Lorraine who was from Austria. However, the Renaissance treasures that were comissioned by the Medicis since the time of Cosimo still exist. Some can be seen at Uffizi, which is a small museum that was created by the Medicis to hold their treasured items.

Unflattening and the Medicis

The Medicis were into humanities and helped helped push for individualism. Their patronage allowed the creation of some of the greatest pieces of art ever known . They pushed for people to think create and exchange ideas.

Nick Sousanis wants us to be individuals and not products of society. He wants us to be unique and be able to be creative. Just like how the Medicis would fund artists to be creative and create great pieces of art, Sousanis wants to promote creativity.





House of de' Medici