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On 26 April 1478, a group of conspirators made an unsuccessful attempt to wrest control of Florence from the powerful Medici clan. This failed coup actually served to strengthen the family’s grip on the city, where artistic commissions bolstered their prestige and authority.

The Medici and their allies promoted a number of pioneering Florentine artists. Young rising stars – Filippino Lippi, Lorenzo di Credi, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo – learnt their craft in the workshops of Botticelli, Verrocchio and the Ghirlandaio brothers. These artists were collaborative, and worked across media. In different ways, each took inspiration from classical antiquity, theories of perspective, and the detailed land and cityscapes of contemporary Northern European artists.

The innovative paintings found in this room were destined for private spaces, as well as churches, monasteries and civic settings. They reflected Florentine loyalties to particular subjects, such as the Adoration of the Magi or Tobias and the Angel, as well as the deeply held, personal beliefs of their patrons. Works made for private chapels – Botticini’s monumental Assumption of the Virgin, the Pollaiuolo brothers’ Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian – were visible to many from a distance, but close access was reserved for special visitors to the family altar.