LORENZO DE' MEDICI
By Agnolo di Cosimo, known as Agnolo Bronzino; the workshop. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Lorenzo the Magnificent. Not a bad nickname for Lorenzo de’ Medici, the Renaissance statesman who ruled Florence during it’s golden years. Macchiavelli called him “the greatest patron of literature and art that any prince has ever been”. Whether Machiavelli is correct may be the subject of debate among scholars, but there can be no doubt that Renaissance Florence would not be the same without this “benevolent despot.”
Lorenzo de Medici was a member of the Medici dynasty, a wealthy banking family that ruled Florence. When visiting the sites of Florence, one is reminded constantly of the importance of this family, with names such as: the Medici tombs, the Medici chapel, and the Medici Palace. But it was Lorenzo who was given the honored name “Il Magnifico” (the Magnificent) due to his patronage of the arts and the peace he brought to the city.
Dusk and Dawn, by Michelangelo
Medici Chapel, Florence, Italy
All creative people would love to have a Lorenzo as their patron, but unfortunately patrons of his caliber are hard to come by in this day and age. But all is not lost—by studying this great man, we can learn some lessons and become a patron to our own creative spirit:
1. Invite the artist in.
Lorenzo, upon recognizing the talent of the young Michelangelo, invited him to live in the Medici palace as a “son”. The first step in nurturing a creative spirit is to recognize it and invite it in. For many of us, this step is not an easy one, but it is essential. If we don’t even recognize the ability for creation within ourselves, how can we possibly nurture it? And once we do make room for creativity in the palace of our lives, we need to tend to it as lovingly as we would “a son” or “daughter”.
David, by Michelangelo
Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence
2. Appreciate the value of your art.
Lorenzo de’ Medici appreciated, like no other, the value of the arts and literature. In fact, he himself also was a poet and a great collector of books. In his mind there was no doubt that the arts and literature were so important that he spent much of his family’s wealth on them. What if we appreciated with equal value our own art, having no doubt how important our chosen creative expression is in our lives? No negative talk in our minds, no self doubt, just 100% appreciation of the value that our own creativity gives, not only to us, but also the world.
3. Be Generous.
Like Lorenzo, the greatest art patrons are generous with their money. But, as they say, time is money. So, while we may not have much money to give ourselves, we can be generous to our creative spirit and give it time. Precious time that we protect, carved out of our busy lives, where we can nurture and grow the art that is within us.
View of Florence, Italy
By Paolo Villa (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
4. Keep your spirit peaceful.
Lorenzo put himself in great danger to maintain peace in Florence. After a battle for power with the Pope’s allies, he travelled to Naples and put himself at the mercy of the King of Naples in the name of peace for Florence. What if we make it a priority that we keep our own spirit in a peaceful state? That we put our daily battles aside through meditation, writing, listening to music, or whatever tool you like to use. Michelangelo was able to create a lot more because of the peace within the walls of his city, and we will be able to create a lot more of our own masterpieces if we keep peace within the borders of our soul.
What do you do to support your creative spirit? We would love if you would share in the comments below.