The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Lorenzo de' Medici (Il Magnifico)
  • Niccolò di Forzore Spinelli (Niccolò Fiorentino) (1430 - 1514)
  • Lorenzo de' Medici (Il Magnifico)
  • Florence, Italy
  • 1490-1492 (circa)
  • Medal
  • Brass copper alloy
  • Diameter: 8.7 cm
  • Inscription: 'MAGNVS ۰ LAVRENT/IVS ۰ MEDICES'
    Inscription: '٠TVTELA ٠ PATRIE ٠ FLOR/ENTIA'
    Inscription: 'TVTELA ۰ PATRIE ۰'
  • S342
  • Smoking Room
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • The inscription on the obverse of the medal refers to Lorenzo’s nickname of “Il Magnifico” (The great), which her earned as he was able to secure a long period of peace and stability for Florence, during which he was a key figure in the complex game of political and military alliances of the numerous states composing 15th-century Italy.

    Although not a gifted businessman like his grandfather Cosimo (the fortunes of the Medici bank declined under his control), Lorenzo inherited from his ancestor the passion for the arts and was a great patron to artists like Botticelli and Michelangelo.

    Like Cosimo before him, he too avoided presenting himself as the ruler of Florence, claiming to be a simple citizen and actively restricting the proliferation of his personal portraits. There are, therefore, only a small number of portraits dating to his lifetime, three of which are medals. One version of our medal, in the Bargello in Florence, is signed by Niccolò Fiorentino.

    The depiction of Lorenzo in the medal seems to refer to the last years of his life and closely reflects his features as captured in one of three surviving terracotta portraits (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford), including his characteristic squint (due to his short-sightedness).

    The allegorical figure on the reverse, a personification of Florence symbolised by the branch of three lilies, might not have been originally conceived for this medal (as the inscription on the reverse does not coincide with the obverse). However, the link with Lorenzo is clear, both in the presence of a laurel tree, which evokes his name, and in the title of Guardian of the Country acknowledging his role of ruler and protector of Florence.