The painter Salviati quotes Cosimo as saying, “All those things (works of art) have given me the greatest satisfaction and contentment because they are not only for the honor of God but are likewise for my own remembrance. For fifty years, I have done nothing else but earn money and spend money; and it became clear that spending money gives me greater pleasure than earning it.” Clearly, he understood the importance of art in his life as well as in the evolution of human beings...as the gift that it is. And he put his money behind such truths, beginning the tradition of sponsorship through commission, that would bring the world some of the greatest artists and their work the world has ever known.
Though Cosimo was patron to many, a few reach out to us for the immortality of their splendid work.
Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi (1386-1466), better known as Donatello, is known as one of the greatest sculptors of the Renaissance, if not all time. His work is touted for its savage force and strength; a reflection, no doubt, of the dynamic, vigorous times in which he lived. Here are a few of the works produced thanks, in part, to the patronage of Cosimo de Medici.
National Gallery of Art
The similarity of expression is a telling sign of Fra Filippo Lippi's devotion,
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Perhaps one of the most recognizable of Lippi's works, the composition depicts a common
Mad and poverty stricken, it was the patronage of Cosimo, his commission and sponsorship, which not only pulled Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446) from the dregs of a hard life, it catapulted him to eternal eminence. Though the architect designed and built many breathtaking buildings, one need look no further than the Duomo--the domed cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore--to see his true brilliance.
By the time of his death in 1464, it is believed that Cosimo invested near to 600,000 gold florins in the support of scholarly learning, architecture, and other arts. As it is known that the fortune left to him by his father only equaled approximately 180,000 florins, this number is staggering, clear evidence of the man's ability not only to make money, but to spend it wisely.