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Gallery D

Florence under the Medici, 1434‒94

From the middle decades of the 15th century, artists in Florence and its surrounding territories diversified their production to meet the desires of the region’s swelling mercantile classes. In addition to devotional works, these patrons sought new kinds of art to adorn their residences.

Paintings treating ancient or mythological subjects often had a commemorative function, marking an important event such as a wedding or a birth. Religious faith, however, remained the bedrock of civic and family life. Both paintings by Piero della Francesca in this room formed part of larger altarpieces for churches in his native town of Borgo San Sepolcro, which came under the control of Florence in 1441.

Florence’s ruling Medici family used artistic commissions to bolster their prestige and political clout, promoting a succession of pioneering Florentine artists including Domenico Ghirlandaio, Andrea del Verrocchio and Sandro Botticelli. Images of the 'Adoration of the Kings' were especially popular. The Medici strongly identified with the Three Kings and organised a lavish procession on their feast day.