Reference Entry

Portinari, Tommaso

Paula Nuttall

in Oxford Art Online


Published online January 2003 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T068832

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(b Florence, 1428; d Florence, Feb 15, 1501).

Italian banker and patron of the arts. The best-known Florentine patron of Netherlandish painting, Portinari spent over 40 years in Bruges, in the course of which he achieved pre-eminence in its Italian mercantile colony. He went to the Bruges branch of the Medici bank as a junior employee c. 1440, a position he held for many years, during which he built up lucrative contacts and gained a foothold at the Burgundian court. Egotistical and ambitious, he came to resent his subordinate position and eventually, in 1465, persuaded the Medici to appoint him manager. This proved to be disastrous. So gravely did he mismanage its finances that by 1478 the Bruges branch was bankrupt.

Portinari abused his position as head of the most prestigious bank in Bruges to further his career at the Burgundian court, the magnificence and refinement of which fascinated him, and which he emulated in his own patronage. His headquarters was the Bladelinhof, one of the most splendid houses in Bruges; he erected a chapel in the St Jakobskerk and was a prominent member of the prestigious Confraternity of the Dry Tree, and he dressed himself and his wife, Maria Maddalena Baroncelli, in the costliest Burgundian fashion. He was adviser to two dukes of Burgundy, Philip the Good and Charles the Bold, advancing to the latter loans that were largely responsible for crippling the bank. Portinari returned to Florence in ...

Reference Entry.  738 words. 

Subjects: Exhibition Catalogues and Specific Collections ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400) ; Renaissance Art

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