The Medici Family of bankers from Mugello

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The Medici

  • Family of bankers from Mugello

  • Cosimo the Elder 1389-1464

  • Piero (the Gouty) 1416-1469

  • Lorenzo the Magnificient (1449-1492) and

  • Giuliano-----Giulio (Pope Clement VII) (1478-1534)

  • Giovanni ( Pope Leo X) 1475-1521

Cosimo the Elder

  • “Always keep out of the public eye” but …

  • Undisputed patriach of Florence

  • In 1439 persuaded Pope Eugenius IV to transfer General Councilof the Greek Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church in FLORENCE

  • Presence of so many Greek scholars led to the study of Plato, the Platonic Academy, additions to Cosimo’s library

  • See Benozzo Gozzoli’s The Procession of the Magi in Medici Palace 1459

The Medici Palace

  • In 1444 Cosimo asked Michelozzo Michelozzi to design the Palace in Via Larga (via Cavour)

  • Michelozzo also worked on the Convent of San Marco

  • Fra eato Angelico dipicted the cells of San Marco

  • Cosimo had a cell there too

San Lorenzo

  • Parish church of the Medici

  • Very old church (393A.D.) , reconstructed by Brunelleschi

  • Sculptures by Donatello, Verrocchio …

  • Later by Michelangelo, Pontormo, Rosso Fiorentino

  • Cosimo is buried in the crypt, on the naive: “Pater Patriae”

Old Sacristy

  • Brunelleschi designed it

  • Donatello executed the statues

  • Tomb of Cosimo’s sons (Giovanni and Piero)

  • Commissioned by Lorenzo

The New Sacristy

  • Under the Old Sacristy, proves Michelangelo’s genius

  • Commissioned by Giuliano’s natural son, Pope Clement VII in 1521

  • Tombs of Lorenzo and his brother Giuliano: in simple graves near the wall

  • Lorenzo = pensieroso, Giuliano = military chief, 4 allegories: Night, Day, Dusk, Dawn

Chapel of the Princes

  • Luxurious, octagonal edifice,covered in semi-precious stones and marbles

  • Burial place for the Grand dukes

  • 6 porphyry tombs surmounted by bronze statues of the deceased: Cosimo I,, Francesco I, Ferdinando I,Cosimo II, Ferdinando II,Cosimo III.

  • Central pillar remains of Cosimo the elder

  • In all 45 tombs of Medici family

The Laurentian Library

  • Founded by Cosimo the Elder

  • Enriched by Lorenzo

  • Taken to Rome by Leo X

  • Presented to Florence by Clement VII

  • Commissioned Michelangelo to design edifice

  • HALL and staircase

Semi Precious Stones

  • The stones are divided into minerals and rocks (made up of several different minerals)

  • The hardness of the minerals is measured by their resistance to beig worked on

  • The hardness of a stone is based on Moh’s scale of 1 to 10

  • Talc is the softest at 1, the diamond is the hardest at 10

Semi Precious Stones

  • Soft stones (from 1 to 5): marble, alabaster, lapis lazuli, malachite

  • Semi precious stones (or pietre due): chalcedony, agate, jasper, petrified wood, porphyry, rock crystal

  • Gems: emerald, ruby, diamond

Manufacturing Tecnique

  • Glyptics – 3 dimensional manufacturing tecnique for sculptures,vases, cameos, gems

  • Commesso – a particular type of mosaic, used in Ancient Rome, and brought to perfection in Florence in 1588 in the Opificio delle Pietre Dure (Semi precious stones workshop)


  • First a drawing of the object is produced

  • The right stone is chosen (for size and COLOUR)

  • To consume the stone a drill with an emeric wheel is used

  • To polish the object a felt wheel is used

  • Cameos: agate or onyx is used


  • Semi precious stones a re too hard to be sculptured and therefore must be consumed

  • They are consumed with an abrasive powder called EMERY

  • Emery powder is formed by sand rich of quartz


  • Bi-dimensional painting made of slices of stone

  • This tecnique is also called Commesso from the latin = joining together

  • The stone is cut into thin slices

  • The artist chooses the stones with the right colour


  • The slices are cut into very precise forms with a special bow with a emery thread

  • The forms are glued to the drawing

  • The pieces are put on a slate (piallaccio), covered with plaster, another slate is glued on the back, the plaster is washed away

  • The stones are polished with a liquid :potè

Inlay (Intarsio)

  • Inlaying technique:

  • The tarsia is placed in a groove of a background stone

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