Raphael. Pope Leo X and his cousins, 1518. Uffizi Gallery, Florence. Public Domain.

study days

The Medici: Bankers, Popes and Princes

  • Monday 26 February 2024
  • Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BE
  • Lecturer: Dr Paula Nuttall

The Medici were the wealthiest and most powerful family in renaissance Florence. Between c. 1420 and c. 1560 they rose from bankers to being de facto rulers of Florence and eventually popes and dukes. Discerning and innovative patrons, from the start they recognised the value of art as a tool for expressing their status and power, enjoying the services – and often also the friendship – of the greatest Florentine renaissance artists. Indeed, to tell their story is also to chart the story of Florentine art.

This study day will trace the rise of the Medici from the banker Cosimo ‘Pater Patriae’, his son Piero the Gouty and grandson Lorenzo the Magnificent, to the Medici popes Leo X and Clement VII, and Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany. It looks at how the Medici used art to express not only their personal tastes, but also their changing status, and at how their patronage shaped Florentine art. In the course of doing so, we shall encounter some of the greatest works of the renaissance, by Brunelleschi, Donatello, Fra Angelico, Gozzoli, Botticelli, Verrocchio, Michelangelo, Bronzino and Cellini to name but a few.

Lecture 1
First among Equals: Cosimo de Medici and the Art of Civic Virtue

Lecture 2
Painting, Poetry and Prestige: The Golden Age of Lorenzo the Magnificent

Lecture 3
Popes and Princes from Leo X to Cosimo I: Ambitions Achieved


Dr Paula Nuttall is an art historian specialising in the Renaissance, with a particular interest in artistic relations between Italy and the Netherlands. She has published widely on this topic, and has contributed to major exhibitions, including Van Eyck: An Optical Revolution (Ghent, 2020). Former Course Director of the V&A Late Medieval to Early Renaissance Year Course and Associate Lecturer at The Courtauld, she lectures for the V&A, London Art History Society and the Arts Society.

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