Art and the Medici:
A Political and Tactical Tool for Advancement in Renaissance Florence

Ciara G McAlinden

The Medici are an impeccable example of how careful and calculated spending can further promote identity and family power. Their rise to power in 15th century Florence was largely assisted by the numerous works of art that they commissioned from local painters, sculptors and architects. This tradition of highly public spending was led by Cosimo de'Medici. Cosimo de Medici knew that the greater the impact he made on the city while he could, the longer their impact would remain and the longer the Medici name would live on. Thus, the rest of the family followed suit, and although the ways the Medici family used art as a political tool evolved over the generations, it remained a vital part of their approach to gaining prestige and influence. This is shown clearly through the many primary source works that were commissioned by the Medici. Each Medici would continue the tradition of patronage, innovating new ways to represent their family in the culture and social scenes of Florence. They always aimed to pay respect to their family members who came before them and to those who created their works, but they never failed to promote and benefit themselves. For the Medici, art was a vital and tactical tool that was used carefully over hundreds of years to leave behind a lasting and positive reputation for the family name.

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