The Medici family story is integral to the development of the way modern art is handled today. The family of money lenders, the Medici family had the wealth to be one of the more powerful families of their time. The Medici family, however, became obsessed with obtaining their eternal salvation in the afterlife due to their devout Christian way. The bible and works like Dante’s Inferno spoke of damnation for the kind of work that the Medici family built their economic prowess upon. Their work was condemned for its lack of actual work, only gaining wealth upon debt and creating greed.
The Medici would have to gain their salvation by paying for it; specifically sponsoring holy works of art that would guarantee their salvation in the afterlife and save the Medici family from the seventh circle of hell. They would see themselves as their modern Magi or bringers of fine gifts to the lord God. Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici’s commission of the famous bronze doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti would begin the Medici family’s dedication as patrons of art. It is interesting learning that the Medici family’s donation, specifically Cosimo de’ Medici’s donation to construct a whole chapel was one of the first incidences of such sponsorship occurring that way. Cosimo had a cell made for him that even had an inscription that solidified his deliverance to heaven in writing. This cell would be were the Medici would get the image for themselves as the modern day Magi.
Cosimo de’ Medici would seem to be the most influential person of the family in the formation of the handling of modern art. He would later sponsor a work of art produced by Paolo Uccello who would be a forefront leader of the exploration of perspective. The use of mathematics were become increasingly intercalated with artistic techniques at this point and the addition of perspective would be revolutionary to the advancement of art.
Cosimo would also commission an artwork of Donatello that was a shockingly nude bronze representation of David. This was another step in the advancement of art as this was a commission of something deliberately made of its shock appeal. The Medici are a microcosm in the history of art as it seems no other family had work so much as patrons of the arts. Lorenzo de’ Medici would also set up one of the first modern art schools to help create of a generation capable of producing the art that the Medici wanted to sponsor. From this school the world would gain Michelangelo and the art world would never be the same due to the original intense fear of one family of their fate in the afterlife.