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13 March 2019The Medici Study Day
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The Medici Study Day Douglas Skeggs Wednesday 13 March 2019

The Medici Study Day will be held at The Trinity Centre, Meole Brace on Wednesday 13 March starting at 10.30am. Members may remember that the lecturer, Douglas Skeggs, came to us earlier in the year and gave a wonderful lecture on Titian. He has provided the following information about the day:


“Bankrolling the Renaissance”

A history of the Medici family

with Douglas Skeggs


The Medici were in many ways an unattractive family. Ruthless in pursuit of profit for their Florentine bank, which had branches in every city of the known world, they were greedy for success, merciless to those who opposed their ambition and vicious in their own internal squabbles. And yet without them we wouldn’t have Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus”, the Fra Angelico frescoes in San Marco, Donatello’s “David” or the majestic Michelangelo sculptures in the Medici chapel. The Platonic Academy wouldn’t have been founded and the doors for the Baptistry would never have been cast.

This Study Day, composed of three talks, looks into the turbulent history of this extraordinary family.


1: Bankrolling the Renaissance.

Under the guidance of Cosimo Medici, the family became the unofficial rulers of Florence and leading patrons of the arts. This inevitably aroused fierce jealousies, which boiled over in the attempted assassination of Cosimo’s grandson Lorenzo.


2: Popes and Patrons.

With Florence gripped by the apocalyptic preaching of Savonarola, the Medici were exiled from Florence. But they re-emerged triumphantly as Popes in Rome. Here their decadent and eccentric rule led to the Sack of Rome and ultimately opened the door to Luther’s Reformation of the Church.


3: From Riches to Royalty.

Although the Medici were a spent force in Italy, an ingenious marriage had put Catherine de Medici on the throne of France, to be followed, shortly afterwards, by Marie de Medici. This last talk looks at the impact these two formidable queens had on the shape of French history.



Douglas Skeggs read Fine Art at Magdalene College Cambridge and has been a lecturer on paintings since 1980. In that time he has given over 7000 lectures to universities, colleges and art societies. He was the director of  'The New Academy of Art Studies' for three years and is presently a regular lecturer at 'The Study Center', 'Christie's' course 'The History of Art Studies' and other London courses. Among his more improbable venues for lectures are the bar on the QE2, MI5 headquarters, the Captain's Room at Lloyds, and an aircraft hanger in a German NATO base. Overseas he has lectured in Belgium, France, Germany and Spain, and has taken numerous tours around Europe. He helped set up the Abercrombie & Kent “Private Label tours” and is presently cultural adviser to Ultimate travel.


  He has written and presented various TV documentaries, notably the Omnibus programme on 'Whistler' and the exhibition video on 'William Morris’.'Three one-man exhibitions of his paintings have been held in England and Switzerland. He has published five novels, which have been translated into 8 foreign languages, and his book on Monet, 'River of Light', has sold 30,000 copies in England, America and France.