The Family Fuelling the Great Renaissance

Within the period classified by many as one of the greatest collaborations of intellect and creativity of all time, the Renaissance was beginning within Italy in the 14th century. At the center of the inspiration is a family in Florence who would transform history. Unbeknownst to many, the innovation and ingenuity of this time was financed by the entrepreneurialism, economic strategies and banking money of the powerhouse Medici family.

The Art & Funding of Public Works

Inspired by a collision of art, science, and technology, while it was Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici who founded the bank initiating the family's rise to power, it was his son Cosimo di Giovanni de' Medici who revered the arts.  A passionate patron, Cosimo capped the cathedral his father Giovanni began building with the great duomo; which by definition is an Italian word for a cathedral where the bishop is located.

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Image caption: Tourists within the Loggia Dei Lanzi arcade, in Piazza della Signoria, in the historic and medieval heart of Florence near the Uffizi palace. The Loggia dei Lanzi, an open structure with arch and columns designed by the architects Benci and Simone Talenti in 1376 and the Piazza della Signoria, was used for the official ceremonies of the Florentine government.

The cathedral project for Cosimo was a business decision made in the Signoria and developed to promote the growth and prosperity of the city as a means to provide jobs for masons and skilled laborers. The splendor was to inspire the villagers, provide a sense of pride in Florentines, and to generate investment and interest in trade routes.  The beauty was designed by the collision of art and engineering, and the cathedral was created for economics, politics, power and prominence.

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The Engineering of the Duomo

Engineer Filippo Brunellesch created a legacy as the greatest architect and engineer of the Renaissance. Filippo promised Cosimo he could build a dome without scaffolding. In an architectural feat, he engineered two domes, one nesting inside the other, to create a structural support. With his achievement, he became the first modern engineer of his time, creating a pinnacle for the wealth and glory of Florence.

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The Artists, Inventors & Scientists

During his reign, Cosimo spent over 600,000 gold florins, approximately $500 million inflation adjusted, on art and culture, including Donatello's David, the first freestanding nude male sculpture since antiquity. Lorenzo Di Medici, representing the fourth generation of Medici bankers, was the great grandson to Giovanni, grandson to Cosimo, son of Pietoro Di Medici, and famously continued the family legacy as a patron of the arts, surrounding himself with the likes of Michelangelo, Botticelli and Leonardo DaVinci.

The painter has the Universe in his mind and hands.
Leonardo da Vinci

Lorenzo continued the work of Cosmio’s legacy in creating a magnificent Florence, while Galileo was tutoring the Medici children in the days leading up to his works unveiling the world was not flat. Leonardo DaVinci became an advisor, and while known for his art and the Mona Lisa, was revered for his technological ingenuity and was conceptualizing flying machines, sketching armored fighting vehicles, ideating concentrated solar power and designing the double hull design of shipping boards, still used in shipping boats today. While Leondardo was inventing, Michelangelo and Botticelli were commissioned for works of art creating their masterpieces within the courtyards, foyers, and great halls of the House of Medici.

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Image Caption: Renown artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli and Donatello all lived, studied and worked in Florence. Inside the church, built starting from 1251 and completed in 1637 in Baroque style, there are also some artistic masterpieces by Domenico Ghirlandaio and Sandro Botticelli. In this church there is the tomb of Sandro Botticelli. Since 1982 the historic center of Florence has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

Art Is At the Heart of it All

While the engineering of today is deemed prestigious, many of our generation have lost the understanding art is at the heart of it all. It is the creativity of the engineers, scientists and mathematicians of historical times, who were also poets, painters, sculptures and artists, who understood the artistic mind is inspired towards creative thinking. It is time we bring back a culture of centuries ago, when the freedom to express in all kinds of artistic forms, gave the time and space within the mind to inspire innovation.

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