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CHARITY AND POWER IN RENAISSANCE FLORENCE: Surmounting Cynicism in Historiography

CHARITY AND POWER IN RENAISSANCE FLORENCE: Surmounting Cynicism in Historiography Page 254 CHARITY AND POWER IN RENAISSANCE FLORENCE Surmounting Cynicism in Historiography Dale Neri di Gino once said to Cosimo: “I wish you would say things clearly so that I could understand you.” He replied: “Learn my language.” —Angelo Poliziano, Detti piacevoli A remarkable proportion of recent scholarship concerning Florence in the fifteenth century has been devoted to demonstrating that most commissions of this culture’s famed works of art by members of the city’s ruling elite were inspired by impulses more self-interested than a desire to celebrate the honor of God and the city. Historians now view these commissions as primarily, if not exclusively, ingenious representations of political power, especially if they were made by the Medici family, who in the early Renaissance came to exercise an unprecedented authority within the Florentine republic. Cosimo de’ Medici (1389 –1464) was Florence’s most influential statesman and personal patron, and therefore anything he did was in a sense political. There are numerous examples of the favorable, and probably calculated, effects of Cosimo’s personal and artistic patronage on his popular image, resulting in the 9:2 Copyright 2003 by Duke University Press CK 9.2-07 _w=_art 3/14/03 10:49 AM Page 255 enhancement of his http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Common Knowledge Duke University Press

CHARITY AND POWER IN RENAISSANCE FLORENCE: Surmounting Cynicism in Historiography

Common Knowledge , Volume 9 (2) – Apr 1, 2003

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2003 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0961-754X
eISSN
1538-4578
DOI
10.1215/0961754X-9-2-254
Publisher site
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Abstract

Page 254 CHARITY AND POWER IN RENAISSANCE FLORENCE Surmounting Cynicism in Historiography Dale Neri di Gino once said to Cosimo: “I wish you would say things clearly so that I could understand you.” He replied: “Learn my language.” —Angelo Poliziano, Detti piacevoli A remarkable proportion of recent scholarship concerning Florence in the fifteenth century has been devoted to demonstrating that most commissions of this culture’s famed works of art by members of the city’s ruling elite were inspired by impulses more self-interested than a desire to celebrate the honor of God and the city. Historians now view these commissions as primarily, if not exclusively, ingenious representations of political power, especially if they were made by the Medici family, who in the early Renaissance came to exercise an unprecedented authority within the Florentine republic. Cosimo de’ Medici (1389 –1464) was Florence’s most influential statesman and personal patron, and therefore anything he did was in a sense political. There are numerous examples of the favorable, and probably calculated, effects of Cosimo’s personal and artistic patronage on his popular image, resulting in the 9:2 Copyright 2003 by Duke University Press CK 9.2-07 _w=_art 3/14/03 10:49 AM Page 255 enhancement of his

Journal

Common KnowledgeDuke University Press

Published: Apr 1, 2003

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