The baton of power passed between four generations of Medici in Florence in the second half of the 15th century. They even survived a dramatic attempted coup in 1478, which saw the assassination of Giuliano, beloved brother of Lorenzo the Magnificent. The family’s grip on power was only loosened following Lorenzo’s death in 1492. His son and heir was soon forced into exile and the republic was restored.
The Medici and their allies used artistic commissions to bolster their prestige and political clout, promoting a succession of pioneering Florentine artists. Verrocchio and the Pollaiuolo brothers ran large, prolific workshops, where artists worked collaboratively. Each took inspiration from classical antiquity, theories of perspective, and the detailed landscapes of contemporary Northern European artists.
The paintings in this room reflect the enduring Florentine enthusiasm for devotional images, both altarpieces made for family chapels in public churches and smaller works for the home. The city’s painters were also sought after by patrons in other cities, like the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza. He commissioned Perugino, an Umbrian painter who was based in Florence in the 1490s, to paint an altarpiece for the Charterhouse at Pavia, in Lombardy.