Sunday, 27 June 2010

Lorenzo de Medici

Here's a great print I came across recently on the British Museum's website. It's by Giorgio Vasari, a painter from 14/15th century Florence who wrote biographies on the most significant artists of the time. It's a portrait of Lorenzo de Medici, and the same image was originally a painting.

Lorenzo was probably the most well known of the Medici family, who were the rulers of Florence (on and off) for centuries. His support of the arts and of education put him in favour with the majority of Florence and gained the name 'the magnificent' for these qualities. He brought Michelangelo Buonarroti to live with his own son and sent the two on to university. Da Vinci, who was almost the same age as Lorenzo, was apparently more or less ignored by the Medicis - perhaps because of his awkward relationship with Michelangelo, or because Lorenzo resented his ability to build a life for himself out of more or less nothing.

Lorenzo may have supported the arts but he wasn't exactly a pacifist; he was severely brutal with his adversaries – especially those who attempted to assassinate him and his brother (and managing only to finish half of the job, leaving Lorenzo wounded but alive). The offending Pazzi family members were run down by mobs, torn to pieces in the streets,  castrated and dragged by horses, defenestrated and humiliated. Then again, brutal times.  Very interesting character to read about; art, politics (war and murder) and intellect.


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