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Lorenzo de' Medici and the Art of Magnificence by F. W. Kent

Lorenzo de' Medici and the Art of Magnificence

Part of the The Johns Hopkins Symposia in Comparative History Series


Lorenzo de' Medici and the Art of Magnificence by F. W. Kent

In the past half century scholars have downplayed the significance of Lorenzo de' Medici (1449-1492), called the Magnificent, as a patron of the arts. Less wealthy than his grandfather Cosimo, the argument goes, Lorenzo was far more interested in collecting ancient objects of art than in commissioning contemporary art or architecture. His earlier reputation as a patron was said to be largely a construct of humanist exaggeration and partisan deference. Although some recent studies have taken issue with this view, no synthesis of Lorenzo as art patron and art lover has yet emerged. In Lorenzo de' Medici and the Art of Magnificence historian F. W. Kent offers a new look at Lorenzo's relationship to the arts, aesthetics, collecting, and building-especially in the context of his role as the political boss (maestro della bottega) of republican Florence and a leading player in Renaissance Italian diplomacy. As a result of this approach, which pays careful attention to the events of his short but dramatic life, a radically new chronology of Lorenzo's activities as an art patron emerges, revealing them to have been more extensive and creative than previously thought. Kent's Lorenzo was broadly interested in the arts and supported efforts to beautify Florence and the many Medici lands and palaces. His expertise was well regarded by guildsmen and artists, who often turned to him for advice as well as for patronage. Lorenzo himself was educated in the arts by such men, and Kent explores his aesthetic education and taste, taking into account what is known of Lorenzo's patronage of music and manuscripts, and of his own creative work as a major Quattrocento poet. Richly illustrated with photographs of Medici landmarks by Ralph Lieberman, Lorenzo de' Medici and the Art of Magnificence offers a masterful portrait of Lorenzo as a man whose achievements might have rivaled his grandfather's had he not died so young.


This suggestive book... looks for its audience to art historians whom F. W. Kent feels might benefit from a historian's discussion of the fragmentary information surrounding Lorenzo's various activities. -- Melissa Meriam Bullard * American Historical Review * Kent has brought the breadth and depth of knowledge furnished by his nigh on forty years
research in the archives and libraries of Florence, an extraordinarily sensitive ear for the voices of his fifteenth

-century Florentines, a nuanced and subtle understanding of their society and its leading figure, and a Renaissance elegance of structure and writing. -- Ros Pesman * Australian Book Review * Extremely valuable... Even though the book tackles a specific theme-Lorenzo the Magnificence's relationship with the visual arts-it also characterizes this key Renaissance figure in the broad political, cultural, and psychological terms available only to a scholar so deeply engaged with every aspect of Lorenzo's life. -- Lorenzo Fabbri * Renaissance Quarterly * Elegantly compresses long study, and will stand as a companion to the same author's forthcoming two-volume biography of Lorenzo. -- Patricia Rubin * Burlington Magazine * A book with much to offer all readers. -- Susannah Baxendale * Journal of Modern History * [Kent is] to be commended highly for penetration as well as precision in [his] scholarship. * Bibliotheque d'Humanisme et Renaissance * A remarkable biography of a remarkable man. -- Wayne Andersen * Common Knowledge *

About the Author

F. W. Kent is a professor of history and Australian Professorial Fellow at Monash University and the founding director of Monash University Centre in Prato. He is the author of Household and Lineage in Renaissance Florence: The Family Life of the Capponi, Ginori, and Rucellai.

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Book Info

Publication date

28th December 2006


F. W. Kent

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Johns Hopkins University Press


248 pages


Biography: historical, political & military
Renaissance art
European history
Early history: c 500 to c 1450/1500



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