Friday, 18 March 2011

M/M Review: A Volume That Examines
The Mind of Collector Lorenzo de'Medici






Image provided by Cambridge University Press. All rights reserved. 

Review by Nicola Linza

What were the collecting habits and passions of a grand fifteenth century Italian ruler named de'Medici? 

This year one volume answers that question and outshines all others on the subject of de'Medici collecting. Lorenzo de'Medici, Collector of Antiquities is that single work. A vast and painstakingly researched volume by Laurie Fusco and Gino Corti, it covers Lorenzo de'Medici's passions as a collector of objects from antiquity and the post-antiquity period, like no other before it.

This groundbreaking work details de'Medici as an important patron of the arts in fifteenth century Florence. The monograph is one any serious collector of the period and of antiquities must have in their library. I call it a groundbreaking work yet it is much more than that, it is the first detailed and highly documented account of a great man of power and wealth satisfying his desires for collecting and preserving history.

The volume contains a range broken down as follows: 1. The first period of collecting: 1465 1483; 2. The second period of collecting and Lorenzo's sources: 1484 1492; 3. Behavior in the art market; 4. The objects collected; 5. Contemplating the objects; 6. The image of Lorenzo as a collector and antiquarian; 7. The fate of Lorenzo's collection following the French invasion of Florence in 1494; 8. Lorenzo in the context of collecting.

This out of the ordinary art book is a significant and wise investment. All educated Italian art collectors, collectors of antiquities, as well as serious book collectors of the period and subject matter will find it not only educational but also a reference tool of collecting habits because for the first time Lorenzo de'Medici's collecting activities are under the microscope. Fusco and Corti meticulously document in 173 previously unknown letters (included in this work) and reveal for the first time via those letters how such a grand ruler of the day thought and acquired personal objects. We also learn for the first time that Lorenzo de'Medici had a preference for intimate items - small objects: coins, hard stone vases, and gems. Fusco and Corti's incredible work reveals how such objects were studied, displayed, selected, and valued by de'Medici and other collectors during this period.

Published April 2006 by Cambridge University Press it packs 446 pages, measures 276 x 219 mm and contains 13 line diagrams 122 half-tone 9 colour plates, weighing in at a respectable 1.761 kg.