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Painted Fabric: Runway show in the Cappella dei Magi in Florence

from Annalisa Chelli - 22/01/2015

Annalisa Chelli

When flipping through a book on fabric, we stumbled upon an interesting piece of information that we wanted to share on our blog. First, however, we will digress a little to give a bit of context and to help you better appreciate this historic gem.

Lorenzo De' Medici called The Magnificent

The Medici family, one of the most famous European dynasties, was the undisputed protagonist of Florentine and Italian history from the 15th to the 18th century. Their considerable wealth originally derived from ownership of wool-making factories which they were able to manage with extraordinary skill. The immense notoriety of their dynasty, however, which remains intact to this day, originates primarily from their limitless interest for the Arts, Culture and Sciences. The Medici family, made up of textile merchants, statesmen, writers, popes and princes, truly helped give birth to the astonishing and probably unrepeatable period of history that we call the Renaissance. Art workshops multiplied and technological innovations cropped up like flowers in springtime.

Numerous figures from this reigning family are ideal subjects for a book on famous Renaissance figures, but the Oscar, without a doubt goes to Lorenzo the Magnificent, the authentic Humanist Prince and a true living example of Aristotelian Philosophyaccording to which, personal wealth and power should be made available one’s community and one must create splendid magnificence through the Arts because beauty educates and betters Man.

The Medici’s and mercantilism go hand in hand. Their court patronized the talent of painters, architects, philosophers, and sculptures such as Sandro Botticelli, Antonio del Pollaiolo, Giuliano da San Gallo, MarsilioFicino and Andrea del Verrocchio just to name a few. Their works decorated both private homes as well as the city of Florence, transforming it into the birthplace of the Renaissance. The princes of Florence, who never abandoned their entrepreneurial responsibilities, were unsurpassable in their ability to unite the business world and the art world, personal gain and benevolence, commerce and civil duty.

Fabric on show

The shining example of their modus operandi (coming back to the piece of information that we hinted about in the beginning of this post) is the Cappella dei Magi (Chapel of the Magi), the renowned group of frescoes and masterpiece of Benozzo Gozzoli, housed in the main floor of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence. Created in 1459, it depicts the Ride of the Magi while in reality it immortalizes a procession made up of important politicians and figures who met in Florence in 1459. There is also another way of interpreting this work, in fact, reliable sources tell us that BenozzoGozzoli paid particular attention to the design of the fabrics worn by the protagonists, that is, the Medici’s, as they owned textile factories which produced fine fabrics famous across all of Europe. They almost surely aspired to show off their textile works in this fresco. This refined and exquisite pictorial representation acts as an invitation to prayer but also as a commercial catalogue to show off to the illustrious guests of the Medici home. Pure avant-garde marketing of 15th century fabric.

We are stunned by so much genius, how about you? While you mull it over, why not take a look at our DHG fabrics?

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