Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici

Giovanni di Averardo de Medici also known as Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici (1360 – 1429) established the financial and political power of the Medici in Florence and was one of the richest bankers in Italy when he turned to public life in 1400. He was the Medici Bank‘ founder.

In 1402, 1406 and 1422 he was appointed prior of his guild, the Arte del Cambio, and in 1421 was made chief magistrate.

His views were democratic, and he sided with the popolo minuto against the oligarchical regime of Rainaldo degli Albizzi and Niccolò da Uzzano.

Giovanni was the first Medici to surround himself with art and also the first Medici to support art. He was one of the few Florentines who had the walls of his house frescoed, and he commissioned Dello Delli to paint the furnishings of an entire room.

He was on the panel of advisers for the celebrated competition for the commission to execute the bronze doors for the Baptistery, and as chief magistrate he was involved in the government’s decision to promote the Ospedale degli Innocenti and supported its building financially.

In 1418 the rebuilding of Basilica di San Lorenzo was planned and Giovanni undertook to finance a chapel and the Old Sacristy, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. Finally, he supervised the erection of the tomb of Baldassare Coscia, Anti-Pope John XXIII by Donatello and Michelozzo di Bartolomeo.

He left a large fortune to his sons, Cosimo and Lorenzo (1394–1440), and was buried with his wife Piccarda de’ Bueri in a marble sarcophagus by Buggiano at the centre of the Old Sacristy in San Lorenzo.