Collection: The Medici & The Arts

The rise of secular arts in the Renaissance provided new avenues to cement one’s status. As the generational wealth of the Medici grew, so did their ostentatious displays of prosperity in the arts, namely dazzling dramatic and fine arts.

Opera had developed in the closing years of the XVIc as a resurrection of ancient drama, which incorporated text as well as music and dance. As the form migrated from Venice to the rest of Italy, it became the perfect vehicle for ostentatious spectacle, incorporating Humanist tropes of moralizing Classical myth (as in Le nozze degli dei, commissioned for the marriage of Ferdinando II de’ Medici to the Princess of Urbino in 1638) with stagecraft on an unparalleled scale.

Renaissance depictions of plants played a pivotal role in transitioning society from the vice and virtue metaphors of Pagan gods and goddesses in classical literature to new moral attitudes associated with Judeo-Christian principles. Compositions including flowers allowed wealthy patrons to associate with a particular moral attribute while avoiding direct religious iconography. Floral symbolism became a discreet element of Renaissance motifs. The Medici took this to a whole new level.

The sparkle of Medici-era artistry was so captivating that it surpassed any former lineage and set a standard sought by future generations such as Louis XIV, and later Napoleon. Each successive potentate sought to outdo his predecessor.