Art and Authority in Renaissance Milan
Milan was one of the largest and most important cities in Renaissance Italy. Controlled by the Visconti and Sforza dynasties from 1277 until 1500, its rulers were generous patrons of the arts, responsible for commissioning major monuments throughout the city and for supporting artists such as Giovanni di Balduccio, Filarete, Bramante and Leonardo da Vinci. But the city was much more than its dukes. Milan had a distinct civic identity, one that was expressed, above all, through its neighbourhood, religious and charitable associations. This book moves beyond standard interpretations of ducal patronage to explore the often overlooked city itself, showing how the allegiances of the town hall and the parish related to those of the servants and aristocrats who frequented the Visconti and Sforza court. In this original and stimulating interdisciplinary study, Evelyn Welch illustrates the ways in which the myths of Visconti and Sforza supremacy were created. Newly discovered material for major projects such as the cathedral, hospital and castle of Milan permits a greater understanding of the political, economic and architectural forces that shaped these extraordinary buildings. The book also explores the wider social networks of the artists themselves. Leonardo da Vinci, for example, is de-mythologised: far from being an isolated, highly prized court artist, he spent his almost eighteen years in the city working within the wider Milanese community of painters, sculptors, goldsmiths and embroiderers. The broad perspective of the book ensures that any future study of the Renaissance will have to re-evaluate the place of Milan in Italian cultural history.
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