Room 59

Florence under the Medici, 1434–94

In 1434, Cosimo de’ Medici returned to Florence from exile. His control of Europe’s largest banking enterprise and a vast patronage network enabled him to take
control of the city. For the next 60 years, his family would remain Florence’s de facto rulers. Cosimo, his son Piero, and grandson Lorenzo used artistic commissions to bolster the Medici’s prestige and authority.

The Medici paid for lavish and innovative architecture, sculpture, and painting – for private spaces such as their family palace; for churches and monasteries including the Dominican convent of San Marco and the Medici family’s parish church of San Lorenzo; and for civic buildings like the Palazzo della Signoria.

Medici support promoted the careers of a number of pioneering Florentine artists, including Donatello, Filippo Lippi, Verrocchio, the Pollaiuolo brothers and Botticelli. In very different ways, they were inspired by classical antiquity, perspective, and the work of contemporary Northern European painters and sculptors to make art
that looked real and of their own world.

Not everything went the Medici family’s way, however. Paolo Uccello’s Battle of San Romano was so coveted by Lorenzo de’ Medici that he appropriated it. Following Lorenzo’s death in 1492, his heirs were forced to return the painting to its legal owners, the Bartolini Salimbeni family.

Paintings in this room

Alesso Baldovinetti: 'Portrait of a Lady'
Portrait of a Lady
Alesso Baldovinetti
Gherardo di Giovanni del Fora: 'The Combat of Love and Chastity'
The Combat of Love and Chastity
Gherardo di Giovanni del Fora
Fra Filippo Lippi: 'Seven Saints'
Seven Saints
Fra Filippo Lippi
The Annunciation
Fra Filippo Lippi
Fra Filippo Lippi and workshop: 'Saint Jerome and the Lion: Predella Panel'
Saint Jerome and the Lion: Predella Panel
Fra Filippo Lippi and workshop
Fra Filippo Lippi and workshop: 'Saint Mamas in Prison thrown to the Lions'
Saint Mamas in Prison thrown to the Lions
Fra Filippo Lippi and workshop
Master of the Judgement of Paris: 'The Abduction of Helen'
The Abduction of Helen
Master of the Judgement of Paris
Francesco Pesellino and completed by Fra Filippo Lippi and workshop: 'Angel (Left Hand)'
Angel (Left Hand)
Francesco Pesellino and Fra Filippo Lippi and workshop
Francesco Pesellino and completed by Fra Filippo Lippi and workshop: 'Angel (Right Hand)'
Angel (Right Hand)
Francesco Pesellino and Fra Filippo Lippi and workshop
Francesco Pesellino: 'Saints Mamas and James'
Saints Mamas and James
Francesco Pesellino and Fra Filippo Lippi and Workshop
Francesco Pesellino and Fra Filippo Lippi and workshop: 'The Pistoia Santa Trinità Altarpiece'
Saints Zeno and Jerome
Francesco Pesellino and Fra Filippo Lippi and workshop
Francesco Pesellino: 'The Trinity'
The Trinity
Francesco Pesellino and Fra Filippo Lippi and workshop
Francesco Pesellino: 'The Triumph of David'
The Triumph of David
Francesco Pesellino
Antonio del Pollaiuolo: 'The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian'
The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian
Antonio del Pollaiuolo and Piero del Pollaiuolo
Antonio del Pollaiuolo: 'Apollo and Daphne'
Apollo and Daphne
Piero del Pollaiuolo
Attributed to Zanobi Strozzi: 'The Abduction of Helen'
The Abduction of Helen
Probably by Zanobi Strozzi
Andrea del Verrocchio: 'The Virgin and Child with Two Angels'
The Virgin and Child with Two Angels
Andrea del Verrocchio and assistant ( Lorenzo di Credi )
Tobias and the Angel
Workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio