Finding Out What’s Normal: Making Lists

Back when I started my PhD, many eons ago, my supervisor, Pat Rubin, suggested I should establish “what was normal” in terms of patterns of art commissioning for Florentine patricians. This was, I think, great advice, and involved me (possibly in naïve enthusiasm) attempting to make a list of every artwork made in Florence between 1494 and 1512 for which we have a patron’s name.

I was also interested in tracing networks of patrons and artists to see if there was a political dimension to taste (very influenced by Frederick Antal’s Florentine Painting and its Social Background, as well as a great article by William Wallace, “‘Michelangelo in and out of Florence between 1500 and 1508’, in S. Hager (ed.), Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael in Renaissance Florence from 1500-1506 (Washington D.C., 1992), pp. 54-88). Because of this I also made a big database of  Florentine patricians linked with the mentions made of them in various chronicles.

Over the years a couple of people have asked me about certain individuals and I’ve (often) been able to use these databases to give them some references to chronicle sources. It struck me that these notes would be more useful freely available than languishing, barely looked at, on my computer.  So, I’ve set up a databases and notes page. Today, I’ve added the database of patrician’s names first, because this is the biggest list and also, possibly, the most useful; but the other databases will follow, whenever I have time.

To be honest, this is very specialist stuff – but if anyone is doing research on Florence in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth centuries, and wants to look up an individual or family name, or to work out which family is connected to which artists, I hope it might be helpful. Having said that, there are probably a ton of mistakes, so it’s essential to check them alongside the original sources  (of course…)

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