Women, Patronage, and Salvation in Renaissance Florence
Lucrezia Tornabuoni and the Chapel of the Medici Palace
Long obfuscated by modern definitions of historical evidence and art patronage, Lucrezia Tornabuoni de’ Medici’s impact on the visual world of her time comes to light in this book, the first full-length scholarly argument for a lay woman’s contributions to the visual arts of fifteenth-century Florence. This focused investigation of the Medici family’s domestic altarpiece, Filippo Lippi’s Adoration of the Christ Child, is broad in its ramifications. Mapping out the cultural network of gender, piety, and power in which Lippi’s painting was originally embedded, author Stefanie Solum challenges the received wisdom that women played little part in actively shaping visual culture during the Florentine Quattrocento. She uses visual evidence never before brought to bear on the topic to reveal that Lucrezia Tornabuoni - shrewd power-broker, pious poetess, and mother of the 'Magnificent' Lorenzo de’ Medici - also had a profound impact on the visual arts. Lucrezia emerges as a fascinating key to understanding the ways in which female lay religiosity created the visual world of Renaissance Florence. The Medici case study establishes, at long last, a robust historical basis for the assertion of women’s agency and patronage in the deeply patriarchal and artistically dynamic society of Quattrocento Florence. As such, it offers a new paradigm for the understanding, and future study, of female patronage during this period.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface; Introduction: Lucrezia Tornabuoni de' Medici and the power of female patronage in 15th-century Florence; Saving the Medici; Gendered histories: Lucrezia Tornabuoni’s spiritual activism; Choosing the Child Baptist: beyond a civic icon; From outside in: the Child Baptist, Lucrezia Tornabuoni, and the contemplative turn; Garden, forest, and mountain: navigating the Baptist’s wilderness in the Palazzo Medici Adoration; Lucrezia Tornabuoni, female piety, and the power of patronage; Works cited; Index.
Stefanie Solum is Professor of Art History at Williams College, USA.
'Solum presents a fresh, innovative interpretation of a familiar masterpiece by Filippo Lippi, illuminating our understanding of a series of related works. This erudite and lucid text offers a new paradigm for the definition of the nature of the artist-patron relationship, especially important for future work on female patronage.' Bruce Edelstein, New York University in Florence
'Stefanie Solum opens this stimulating book by discussing a question fundamental for those interested in artistic patronage in Renaissance Florence: whether or not laywomen commissioned significant paintings, sculptures, or buildings in the city during the fifteenth century. ...Lucrezia certainly pursued a religious ideal embodied by the saints, exemplified in religious texts, and outlined in devotional literature. Solum’s ingenious utilization of such evidence yields a fascinating hypothesis concerning Lucrezia’s role in influencing the creation of a major fifteenth-century painting, as well as a reconstruction of her inner life of prayer and rich religious imagination.' CAA.Reviews