The Renaissance comes to life as the Medici family rises to power in Florence, Italy. The Medici family rose from humble beginnings to become financiers of kingdoms, businesses and even the Catholic Church. The Medici family created a network of “friends” doing favors for the ordinary people as well as the well-connected. Peasants were welcome to present their problems and ask for help. This created a vast network of loyal friends who would fight for the Medici family when prompted. Lorenzo Medici was instrumental in the growth in artistic ventures all over Florence. He openly funded art that was controversial as seen by the Catholic Church. Boticelli became a very close friend of Lorenzo and was commissioned to create a new genre of art never seen before. Fantasy art depicting the pagan goddess Venus with human desire openly expressed was seen for the first time. “The Birth of Venus” was scandalous for the time and the priest Sabonarolla was a vocal critic of the wave of influence that Lorenzo Medici was commissioning. In religious paintings showing the Holy Family, Boticelli’s images of the holy family and adds members of the Medici family, kings, princes and other dignitaries again showing their influence. Boticelli also painted himself into the portrait depicting the baptism of Christ. Michelangelo, a young apprentice at a shop in Florence showed great promise and was eventually asked to move in to the residence of Lorenzo and become a member of the family along with his other seven children. He created many magnificent sculptures for the Medici family in his career. Leonardo da Vinci was another artist discovered by Lorenzo Medici. The great duomo contest was funded by the Medici family as well. The cathedral in Florence was left maimed with the construction of a dome incomplete. It was an embarrassment to the city and citizens of Florence so to find the best minds to submit plans for completion of the dome, a contest was held. The completion of the dome by Bruneschelli placed Florence at the pinnacle of architectural dominance with the secretive calculations of Bruneschelli. The superior architectural skill helped Florence to grow as the citizens and visitors watched in awe the methods of construction that would beautify Florence. Based on the model of ancient Greek architecture in the Pantheon, the study of the ancients again influenced the future. The capitals and domes would be seen all over Florence. The rebirth of design models of the past is now known as the Florentine style.
China’s design history is rich with what I feel is technology that has been used in the development of designs in the West. We have learned about the Roman baths and how they used radiant floor heating systems in their baths to give the three areas of varying heat to the bathers but did China use the technology first? The kang is a system of a raised platform bed heated by hot air moving through pipes leading from the stove and leading to the outside area through a pipe.Did a Roman visit China and come back with the method used in the Roman baths? I think they were heavily influenced by the Chinese! Another Roman design on the curule stool is the boss, which could indicate the power of a Roman symbol, but it was also used in China with the Fu, which is a symbol in the middle of a door with a symbol. The similarity I feel is significant. Finally, the tracery of the Gothic cathedral glass work looks very much like the latticework of the Chinese doors that were covered in paper to keep the walls insulated. Again, I feel a visit to China would have exposed Roman civilization to ideas that they could use in their own designs at home.