From Medici to Marx, how patronage drives architecture and what we can learn from it today.
By John Gendall
Historians position the Renaissance’s birth in Florence, Italy around the year 1400. They give it this coordinate in place and time because of a perfect storm of conditions: a wealth of talent pouring out from several accomplished workshops (Lorenzo Ghiberti, Fra Angelico, and Filipo Brunelleschi), a thriving economy owing to bustling trade, and, importantly, an ambitious and tasteful patron of the arts, the Medici family, willing to invest in provocative new art and architecture. In the midst of the Bubonic Plague, the revelation of the Florentine patrons served as a guiding light, paving they way for the exquisite work of the high renaissance. In other words, without the Medicis, there would have been no Michelangelo.
The same relationship between patron and architect carries through architectural history, with nobility, religious leaders, business owners tapping