The Medici Family in Florence–Culture, Power, and Influence: A Four-Part Course with Dr. Alessandra Becucci

The Medici Family in Florence–Culture, Power, and Influence: A Four-Part Course with Dr. Alessandra Becucci


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A dynasty of merchants-bankers, for centuries the Medici were the most influential family in Florence. As experienced members of the Republican government of the town and as clever businessmen, they contributed to the political and economic primacy of Florence. As members of the Florentine socio-cultural elite, they sponsored and collaborated with the most important artists of the Renaissance, including Donatello, Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Signorelli, and Michelangelo. As dukes of Florence, they shaped the history of the town between the Fifteenth century and 1747, when the last member of the family died heirless.

Led by a Florentine art historian, Alessandra Becucci, this course will introduce participants to the long history of the most influential family in Florence. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of how, while crafting their image of cultural and political leaders, the Medici contributed to making Florence one of the protagonists of European culture for centuries to come.

Lecture 1: Origins and the Medici’s Rise to Power in Late Medieval Florence

Tracing the arrival of the Medici from the Mugello valley to Florence, this lecture covers the rise of the family within the Florentine society, the beginning of their trading and banking activity, and their entrance into the political and cultural life of the town.

Lecture 2: Medici Patronage 1300-1500–Social and Cultural Promotion in Republican Times

Well-established merchants, the Medici started to use patronage as a way to promote their image early on in their history. This lecture focuses on the first fundamental episodes of their artistic and architectural patronage, highlighting some personal connections with artists, such as the one between Cosimo the Elder and Donatello.

Lecture 3 Medici Patronage 1500-1700–the Lords of Florence

After obtaining the title of dukes by imperial concession, the Medici started shaping their image of the ruling dynasty through art, science, music, and literature. This lecture will cover the changes in their patronage’s modes and taste in the light of their newly acquired social and political stance and some of the less prominent figures in the dynasty.

Lecture 4: Medici Women–Matrons’ Cultural Mediation

The last session is dedicated to the female figures in the dynasty. Two Medici women, Caterina and Maria, became queens of France and were influential mediators of the Italian style out of Florence and several other ladies in the lineage were powerful matrons contributing to the leading cultural role of the family over the centuries.

Born and raised in Florence, Alessandra has a degree in art history from the University of Florence with a specialization in seventeenth-century painting. She obtained an MRes from the European University Institute in Florence, where she defended her Ph.D in history, focusing on the patronage of Tuscan nobility in Europe during the seventeenth century. She has been teaching art history and Italian for several years in various schools and institutions in Florence.

How does it work?

This is a four-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background in art history, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $140 for four lectures.

Is a recording available?

In general, our courses are not recorded. However, if you need to miss a lecture please let us know in advance and we can arrange for a recording for that session on an individual basis.

This course is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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