Cosimo de’ Medici was one of the most famous personalities of Renaissance Florence
and a great patron of the arts, especially architecture. He was also one the most powerful
bankers in Florence, and eventually in all of Europe, thanks in part to his management of the
Papacy’s finances. Cosimo’s influence in the art and the economic world made him very
politically powerful, and he was posthumously given the title pater patriae, Latin for “father of
his country.”1
His success was the beginning of the reign of the Medici family in Florence that
lasted until well into the 17th century.
This paper will discuss some of Cosimo de’ Medici’s most well-known commissions and
how they were created to display the wealth and power of Cosimo and the Medici family. The
artworks also reveal Cosimo’s personality, which he carefully crafted in order to appeal to the
people. The paper will also investigate how Cosimo’s connections and businesses contributed to
his rise to power. Cosimo’s personality helped him gain popularity with the citizens of Florence.
He portrayed himself as a patriot, and emphasized qualities that Florentine citizens valued, such
as strength, honor, and humility. Though he spent an enormous amount of money on the art he
commissioned, he represented himself as a humble and generous Christian. A lot of his
commissions involved renovating churches, further emphasizing his piety and generosity.
Cosimo de’ Medici was born in 1389, into a wealthy banking family. His father,
Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici, was already a successful businessman. In 1420 Giovanni di Bicci
retired and handed over his various business and art ventures, including the bank, to Cosimo and
his younger brother, Lorenzo.2 Cosimo and Lorenzo worked closely together, both in business and in commissioning artwork, until Lorenzo’s death in 1440. From 1440 until his death in
1464, Cosimo mainly worked with his eldest son, Piero.3


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