From the 17th of September 2011 to the 22nd of January 2012
The exhibition is a journey through the birth of our modern banking system and the economic boom that it triggered, providing a reconstruction of European life and the continent’s economy from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.
Visitors can delve into the daily life of the families that controlled the banking system and perceive the ongoing clash between spiritual and economic values that was such a feature of it. The saga of the art patrons is closely linked to that of the bankers who financed the ventures of princes and nobles alike, and indeed it was that very convergence that provided the humus in which some of the leading artists of all time were able to flourish.
The exhibition takes the visitor on a journey to the roots of Florentine power in Europe, but it also explores the economic mechanisms which allowed the Florentines to dominate the world of trade and business 500 years before modern communication methods were invented, and in so doing, to finance the Renaissance. The exhibition analyses the systems that bankers used to build up their immense fortunes, it illustrates the way in which they handled international relations and it also sheds light on the birth of modern art patronage, which frequently began as a penitential gesture only to then turn into a tool for wielding power.
Exhibition website: Money and Beauty. Bankers, Botticelli and the Bonfire of the Vanities