Lucrezia de Medici

The major influence on the young Lorenzo (de Medici) would undoubtedly be his mother, Lucrezia, an intelligent and resilient woman in an age when females for the most part had little opportunity to assert themselves beyond the restricted domestic sphere.

Lucrezia came from an old and distinguished Florentine family, the Tornabuoni, and although her arranged marriage to a Medici was undoubtedly contracted for political reasons, she appears from her extant letters to have been genuinely fond of her husband, worrying over his health and betraying her concern that he should not ‘give way to melancholy’.

Yet these letters are not the only evidence of her writing, for Lucrezia de’ Medici was also a talented poet and hymnist. Although the conventional religiosity of her verse is of little modern interest, such piety did not stifle the warmth of her sympathetic personality.

Her verse appears to have been the outlet for a wider creative sensibility, which was used to some effect in guiding her husband’s discriminating patronage of such leading early Renaissance figures as the architect Michelozzi, who had designed the groundbreaking Palazzo Medici; the sculptor Donatello, whose innovative realistic sculptures included the first free-standing nude since classical times; and the troubled artist Fra Filippo Lippi, whose colourful larger-than-life portraits echoed his own larger-than-life personality.

All three of these artists Lucrezia came to regard as personal friends. The Medici were amongst the first patrons to recognise that artists were now becoming something more than mere craftsmen, and the family did their best to accommodate the increasingly difficult temperaments and wayward behaviour of these emergent genius-figures.

Lucrezia was also known to have influenced  would be she who persuaded Piero to allow certain members of the Strozzi family to return from the banishment they had suffered for opposing Cosimo. This would prove a particularly astute move.

Of similar impact was Lucrezia’s formative influence upon the youthful Lorenzo, who quickly began displaying precocious brilliance in a variety of fields, ranging from classical literature to horseback-riding. He was also said to have had an exceptional singing voice, accompanying himself on the lyre.*

Strathern, Paul. Death in Florence: The Medici, Savonarola, and the Battle for the Soul of a Renaissance City, Pegasus. Kindle Edition.


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