Giovanni di Cosimo de'
Giovanni di Cosimo de Medici (1421-1463) was the son o
Although less well-known to posterity than his older brothe
gouty, he may actually have been Cosimo’s preferred successor in
finance and politics.
He was enrolled at a young age in the Florentine guilds the
Arte del Cambio and the Arte della Lana.
In 1438 he served an apprenticeship in the Ferrara branch of
the Medici bank and in 1455 became the manager of the entire bank.
In the political sphere, in addition to holding important guild memberships, he was elected to
the Florentine priorate in 1454, and he was one of the Florentine ambassadors sent to Rome in 1455 to congratulate
Calixtus III on his elevation to the papacy.
Throughout the 1450s Giovanni often spoke in Florentine political councils on behalf of the
Medici. He received a humanist education and in 1447 served as an official at the Studio Fiorentino, the University
Like Piero, Giovanni was a collector of ancient and contemporary art as well as a patron of art
and architecture. His penchant for ancient art may have been a logical result of his humanist education; it must
also have been nurtured by his father, himself a collector of antiquities.
Giovanni became an avid collector of ancient coins, statues and manuscripts; he also
commissioned copies of Classical texts. Giovanni’s interest in Classical culture was recognized in a letter of 1443
in which the writer, Alberto Averadi, informed him of the ruined state and contemporary destruction of ancient
monuments in Rome and of the unsatisfactory nature of their modern replacements.
Villa Medici at Fiesole
As a patron of art and architecture, Giovanni may have sought a reconciliation between the Roman
past and the Florentine present. In the 1450s he had Michelozzo di Bartolomeo construct the Medici villa at Fiesole
(photo above) and remodel the nearby church and cloister of San Girolamo. The villa, later celebrated in Angelo
Poliziano’s writings, is located in a position overlooking Florence that calls to mind Pliny the younger’s
description of his Tuscan villa.
Mino da Fiesole - Giovanni di Cosimo de Medici
The Classical and the modern were also wedded in the
ornamentation of Giovanni’s apartments in the Palazzo Medici in Florence: in
the portrait bust by Mino da Fiesole, Giovanni is shown in a suit of
Giovanni may also have commissioned the paintings by
Domenico Veneziano and Pesellino that appear in an inventory of his apartments.
Documents of 1454 and 1455 indicate that he commissioned works from
His artistic interests extended beyond the works of the
ancients or his Florentine contemporaries; letters of 1448 and 1460 addressed
to him by Medici agents in Bruges indicate his interest in the tapestries and
paintings of northern Europe.
The Medicean banking establishments in Bruges
undoubtedly played a role in his acquisition of these products, just as the family’s political commitments
explain certain of his transactions with Florentine artists and with other rulers of the Italian peninsula.
In 1449 Sigismondo Malatesta of Rimini contacted him for recommendations of painters who might
supply works for the church of San Francesco, the so-called Tempio Malatestiano. Giovanni may have recommended
either or both Piero della Francesco and Fra Filippo Lippi. It is known that in the late 1450s he arranged for an
altarpiece by Lippi to be sent as a diplomatic gift to Alfonso I, King of Naples and Sicily. Giovanni was buried
together with Piero di Cosimo, in an elaborate double tomb by Verrocchio.