How did Florentine 15th Century palaces reflect the concerns of their patrons?

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How did Florentine 15th Century palaces reflect the concerns of their patrons?

Florence in the 15th century was a republican city, so a key concern of the patrons was to make the palaces as evidently republican as possible. A celebration of superiority of one individual over others was inherently not republican, so the architecture of palaces such as the Medici palace (Michelelozzo), the Strozzi palace (Giuliano da Sangallo), the Rucellai palace (Alberti) and the Gondi palace (Giuliano da Sangallo) tried to reflect these values, whilst still trying to establish a sense of power. A key feature of this was that the palaces were trying to imitate the Medici palace, which itself was built in imitation of the state palace Palazzo Vecchio (Arnolfo di cambio). Patrons wanted to alignthemselves with the Medici as the medici were the most powerful family in florence, but at the same time had to be careful to show support for the state so as not to present themselves as a threat to the cities republican values.

The location of the palaces are a key reflection of the patrons wanting to establish individual power, but also of the patrons wish to fit into the republican ideals of the city. For example, the Palazzo Medici (1445-60) was commissioned to be built near the Duomo, San Lorenzo, and San Marco, all of which had been previously commissioned by the Medici family. Because of the close proximity of these buildings, there was a sense of a region of the city being under the influence of the Medici, due to the number of impressive buildings within the area that were built by the Medici. With the Medici family in particular, a key concern was that they wanted to establish physical lineage as they were a relatively new family and were not nobility, meaning that they didn’t have an established lineage to build upon. The Medici family was incredibly concerned with a conscious establishment of legacy, and the location of the palace created this. The location of this palace meant that the Medici could have an inflencial presence in an area of the city without actually going against the cities republican values. In a similar way to this, the Palazzo Rucceli is located just off of Santa Maria Novella, which they had also helped to commission. Again, the location of the palace is reflecting the wish for the family to establish a physical sence of influence in a city where this was difficult to do without threatening the state. The location of the Rucceli palace on a narrow street also places the viewer in close proximity to the building, creating an illusion of the palace being a lot larger and more imposing than it already is. This almost intimidating scale due to its location coveys an impressive sense of strength, reflective of the Ruccelais want to establish themselves as a strong, powerful family. Although the location of these 15th century palaces can be used to convey a sense of individual power, they also show alignment with the state and adherence with republican values, specifically in the Gondi palace. Sitting right niext to the Palazzo Vecchio, the Gondi palace directly shows its alignment with the state due to its proximity, reflecting the patrons concern of showing support to the state.

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Another way in which Florentine palaces reflected the concerns of their patrons was through their scale and material. The Medici palace is enormous, being three tiers high, with a contrast between refined stonework on the upper tiers so that the bottom tier looks cruder and the upper tiers look more delicate which both make it seem taller but also more fortified. The monochromatic, relatively dark stone colour represents the republican value of unity and equality, which the Medici family wanted to reflect in their building. The Ruccelai palace, like the medici palace, is only three tiers, but is actually ...

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