The the cathedral of Florence from Brunelleschi,

The Italian Renaissance is said to have carried out from the 1300s to the 1600s, with its height in the age of Lorenzo de’ Medici of Florence. The purpose of this paper is examine the extent of Lorenzo’s impact on artists. I will first explain the historical context of Florence leading up to Lorenzo’s time, then provide arguments on my thesis referencing books and articles prior historians have written, and an analysis of Lorenzo’s impact based upon works he commissioned. The origins of Florence as a city are ancient, created under the reign of Julius Caesar in 59 BC. However, the Florence of the Renaissance was rebuilt under the Medici family, starting with Giovanni de’ Medici in 1351. He brought the city to prominence with his wealth from the wool business and the Medici bank, loved wholly by the people, and his son Cosimo continued his legacy, so much so that he was nicknamed “Pater Patriae” following his death, meaning Father of his country . Though he experienced a setback in continuing his father’s work, having been banished from the city for 10 years, he stayed only for a year in Venice before being called back. During his banishment there he was introduced to many new people, many artisans, who he commissioned works from. Cosimo had was very fond of both men of letters and artisans. He collected many books in various languages, the beginnings of the great Medici library. For the artisans, Cosimo worked with many, commissioning many paintings and sculptors, even buildings. It was Cosimo who commissioned the great dome of the cathedral of Florence from Brunelleschi, as well as the “gates to Paradise” from Ghiberti. He was also the chief patron of the painter Masaccio, who brought in the new style of painting that would embody the Renaissance. As perhaps the first great patron of the Renaissance, Cosimo’s successor would need to follow in his footsteps. Unfortunately for Cosimo, his heir Giovanni died young and his eldest son Piero was chronically sick. Thus, he looked to his grandson Lorenzo, the eldest son of Piero. Lorenzo received the finest humanistic education, and from a young age showed promise of becoming a great ruler. After Cosimo de’ Medici died in 1464, Lorenzo emerged into the public eye at age sixteen. His father ruled, though Lorenzo was sent on many diplomatic missions for him. He inherited attitudes and behaviors from his parents, uncle, and grandfather that helped better equip him for his immersion into politics, as well as the greater role he would play later on. At the age of 20, Lorenzo took over following his father’s death in 1469. Unlike this father and grandfather before him, Lorenzo surrounded himself in a circle of friends and clients, who helped him assert his informal rule over Florence. He ruled alongside his younger brother, Giuliano, for nearly 10 years before his death in the Pazzi Conspiracy. The Pazzi Conspiracy was a plan to overthrow the Medici and banish them from Florence, supported by the Pope. The plot took place on Easter Sunday, resulting in the murder of Giuliano and the wounding of Lorenzo. The people of Florence supported the Medici following this, and Lorenzo’s rule was strengthened. However, war with the papacy was still impending. Lorenzo knew that the only power that could dissuade the Pope was the King of Naples, and so he set off to attempt to persuade the king. After three months, he was successful, not only creating the peace treaty, but also an ally and friend out of King Ferdinand II. Henceforth, Lorenzo de’ Medici was known as ‘the Wise,’ a title that enhanced his reputation throughout Italy and was one that continued with him throughout his life. Equally important as ‘the Wise’ was another title Lorenzo earned, ‘the Magnificent.’ Though his patronage emptied his coffers, his support of great artisans brought his own reward, prestige among the other courts in Italy. Some scholars believe that Lorenzo de’ Medici was the greatest patron of the Renaissance, and that the High Renaissance was during his lifespan, while other modern historians are more skeptical, stating that to believe Lorenzo was the greatest patron is to believe the myth the Medici perpetrated themselves. Edith Carpenter writes that, “few had a greater interest in art and architecture greater than his, and we know him as at once the friend and patron of many of the chief artists of his own generation and of those who were to add lustre to the next.” Whereas the counterargument to that lies in Lorenzo being more interested in collecting antique art than commissioning it from contemporary artists due to his lack of funds compared to his grandfather’s. Lorenzo’s interest in collecting antiques began with his grandfather, however, whose collection was said to be worth 28,000 florins, or nearly twenty million USD. Bartolomeo di Filippo, of the Valori family, said of Lorenzo, “Such an admirer was he of all remains of antiquity, that there was not anything with which he was more delighted,” and it was under Lorenzo that the collection gained its most valuable pieces. Regardless, in examining commissions, we see that Lorenzo usually commissioned portraits of well-known Florentine men, unlike the classical themes and myths later patrons would usually commission, although Lorenzo is said to have commissioned a painting by Antonio del Pollaiuolo, entitled Hercules and Antaeus. A major project of his patronage was including the portraits of many famed Florentines along the walls of the cathedral of Florence, including the artist Giotto.  Lorenzo also commissioned the portrait of his brother, Giuliano, painted by Sandro Botticelli, following his brother’s death. Botticelli is known to have worked for the Medici family, though much of his work was never commissioned by Lorenzo. One of Botticelli’s most famous works, La Primavera, however, was commissioned by Lorenzo’s second cousin, similarly named. Botticelli did paint many works whilst in the court of Lorenzo de’ Medici though nothing, other than the portrait of his brother, is tied back to Lorenzo. Though Lorenzo did not commission many works, he did give rise to many great artists. In his close circle of friends he included many prominent people, including Angelo Poliziano, Marsilio Ficino, and Pico della Mirandola. Lorenzo advocated for his friends reputation and wealth, and Poliziano is quoted with “I shall always be at the beck and call of Lorenzo as I am sure he knows better than I, and that he will put me in an honorable position as he always has done and as my fidelity and good services merit.” Additionally, artists such as Botticelli, Giuliano da Sangallo, Verrocchio, and Domenico Ghirlandaio. With just the association of Lorenzo de’ Medici’s name, these artists received much more recognition and therefore more commissions from other patrons. Verrocchio and Ghirlandaio’s pupils, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti, respectively, were the most well-known of men to pass through Medici’s halls. Michelangelo was especially close to Lorenzo, living with him from shortly after the start of his apprenticeship until Lorenzo’s death in 1492, as one of his most honored guests.Therefore, if examining Lorenzo de Medici’s impact on Renaissance artists through his commissions, he did not make much of one. He was not the “greatest patron” if you simply look at the works he commissioned, however, he still did create a large impact on artists.  In sponsoring young artists, with the support of the Medici name behind them, Lorenzo created a domino effect. Some of the most famous Renaissance artists, such as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, started in Florence with Lorenzo de’ Medici, and went on to create some of the world’s greatest works of art. Though perhaps they could have done it without the help of Lorenzo, nevertheless it was with him that they did. BibliographyPrimary Sourcesda Maiano, Benedetto. Portrait of Giotto, 1490, Marble, Florence, Duomo, Scala/Art Resource, NY.Botticelli, Sandro. Giuliano de’ Medici,  1478/80, Tempera on panel, 75.5 x 52.5 cm (29 3/4 x 20 11/16 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Samuel H. KressCollection.Pollaiuolo, Antonio. Hercules slaying Antaeus, 1460, Tempera on panel, 6 x 3.5 in. Uffizi Gallery, Florence. Secondary Sources”Biography of Sandro Botticelli (Alessandro Filipepi).” Sandro Botticelli (Alessandro Filipepi) – The Complete Works – Biography. Accessed January 20, 2018., Leonardo, James Hankins, and D. J. W. Bradley. Bradley. History of the Florentine People. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007, Vol. 1.Carpenter, Edith. Lorenzo De’ Medici: An Historical Portrait. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1893.Kent, F. W. Lorenzo de’ Medici and the Art of Magnificence. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 2004.Roscoe, William. The life of Lorenzo de Medici, called The Magnificent. Basil: J. J. Tourneisen,  1799.