The Ways to Wealth

The Ways to Wealth

Florence (Italy) — Last quarter of the 15th century

Commissioned by Lorenzo de' Medici: a sumptuously equipped arithmetic book for his son Giovanni, the later Pope Leo X

  1. Lorenzo de' Medici (1449–1492) commissioned this work for his son Giovanni, the later Pope Leo X (1475–1521)

  2. It was intended to teach the Medici offspring arithmetic and the basics of banking

  3. The text by Filippo Calandri was beautifully illuminated by Giovanni Boccardo among others

The Ways to Wealth

  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
The Ways to Wealth

The Ways to Wealth of Lorenzo I de Medici, named the Magnificent, probably served as an instructional book for his son Giovanni, the later Pope Leo X. The Medici were hegemonic in their banking prowess, and so it is fitting that their banking and arithmetic should be handed down. The magnificently decorated manuscript contains a treatise on arithmetic and geometry by Filippo Calandri, which prepend several panels with singular paintings of one or more numbers. This mathematical work is, like its countless miniatures in the text, overflowing with ornaments, figurative depictions, and, above all, the Medici Coat of Arms. Everything shines with precious gold. Thus, this edition, which was printed in Florence in 1491, represents a singular luxury object that subordinates its didactic utility to the artistic phenomenon.

The Ways to Wealth

The Treatise on Arithmetic of Lorenzo I de Medici, named the Magnificent, probably served as an instructional book for his son Giovanni, the later Pope Leo X. The Medici were hegemonic in their banking prowess, and so it is fitting that their banking and arithmetic should be handed down. The magnificently decorated manuscript contains a treatise on arithmetic and geometry by Filippo Calandri, which prepend several panels with singular paintings of one or more numbers. This mathematical work is, like its countless miniatures in the text, overflowing with ornaments, figurative depictions, and, above all, the Medici Coat of Arms. Everything shines with precious gold. Thus, this edition, which was printed in Florence in 1491, represents a singular luxury object that subordinates its didactic utility to the artistic phenomenon.

A Medici Contract

The famous patron of the manuscript, Lorenzo I. de Medici (1449–1492), the famous member of the influential Medici dynasty in Florence, was also a patron of art. Banking is unquestionably connected to the Medici. They founded a modern system of banking, which was ruled by them, and were even the bankers of the Popes. Lorenzo’s son Giovanni, the later Pope Leo X, would have been made familiar with banking and arithmetic lessons through this manuscript, as well as gaining a humanistic education.

Golden Images for a Mathematical Education

Throughout the 100 pages of the manuscript, a 17 x 12 cm format collections the in 230 wonderful miniatures altogether. Next to the artful initials with exquisite leaflet work and in bright colors, the whole-page tables for calculations are sure to impress. The columns of figures are noted in bright red, blue, or green, and in golden writing. However, these are almost lost in the pageantry of the pages. Built like an altar with a predella with figurative depictions, e.g. musical cherubs, the arithmetic tables are decorated all over with ornamentation. Floral tendrils on the edges surround small cherubs, and the luminous Medici Coat of Arms is visible everywhere. A few special text pages are designed in this fantastic manner, with borders of manifold ornamentation, classical forms, and mythological figures. Next to these whole page depictions, the text contains countless figurative illustrations, which are often scenes of everyday life, laborers at work, but also historical events. The various figures bustle about in partially perspective spaces. The marginal illustrations present with didactic intention the handling of money and goods as well as the problems with the activity of a merchant, which are mentioned in the text.

A Luxurious Object of the Late 15th Century

The manuscript is allegedly from Florence at the end of 15th century. In the year 1491, the Treatise on Arithmetic and Geometry was printed by Filippo Calandri, with a dedication to Giuliano de Medici, a later son of Lorenzo the Magnificent. With its extensive pictorial decorations, the superb manuscript-edition of this arithmetic treatise appears to have been more of a luxury object than a practical textbook. Written in Italian with Arabic numerals, this manuscript was on the cutting edge of its time. As for the artist of the miniatures, the Italian miniaturist Giovanni Boccardo, also known as Boccardino il Vecchio, was responsible. He would later also work for Pope Leo X. In recent research, it is speculated, that two different artists contributed to the book project, perhaps in the style of Francesco di Antonio del Chierico – which is similar to the Book of Hours of Lorenzo the Magnificent – the other in the style of Gherardo di Giovannis and Pedro Berrunguetes.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Tratado de Aritmética de Lorenzo el Magnífico
Traktat der Rechenkunst Lorenzos des Prächtigen
Traktat der Rechenkunst von Lorenzo dem Prächtigen
Traité d'Arithmétique de Laurent le Magnifique
Trattato di Aritmetica di Lorenzo il Magnifico
Tratado de Aritmética de Lourenço o Magnifico
Size / Format
100 pages / 17.0 × 12.0 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
Last quarter of the 15th century
Language
Illustrations
230 miniatures illuminated in gold and silver
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Lorenzo's son Giovanni (Pope Leo X)

Available facsimile editions:
The Ways to Wealth – Ms. Ricc. 2669 – Biblioteca Riccardiana (Florence, Italy)
ArtCodex – Modena
Limited Edition: 999 copies

Tratado de Aritmética de Lorenzo el Magnífico
Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2002
Limited Edition: 999 copies
Detail Picture

The Ways to Wealth

Two Wool Merchants

Although famous for its great banking houses, Florence’s wealth was built on the textile industry and Florentine fabrics were highly coveted, arguably the best in Europe during the Late Middle Ages. The international European wool trade began in the pastures of Scotland and England, its central hub was the Low Countries, and Florentine weavers produced the final product. The merchant on the right is standing next to bales of raw wool while his colleague on the left has finished textiles.

Die Wege zum Reichtum
Single Page

The Ways to Wealth

Table of Square Roots

Presented in the form of a Roman-style altar, this table presents the square roots for the numbers 31 through 70, making it both a work of art and a helpful quick reference. Presented in fields of red and green, the numbers are divided by medallion portraits, bull’s skulls, laurel branches, as well as arms and armor including shields, a helmet, bow, and quiver.

A motif of stern lions’ faces and blue vases adorns the top of the table, which is flanked by finely-patterned columns with composite capitals. Created with wonderful, haunting shades of blue and purple, the base of the “altar” is patterned with griffins whose scaled dragon tails intertwine as their upper bodies, in the form of eagles, face one another.

Die Wege zum Reichtum
Facsimile Editions

#1 Die Wege zum Reichtum

ArtCodex – Modena

Publisher: ArtCodex – Modena
Limited Edition: 999 copies
Binding: Green velvet with metals and center stone
Commentary: 1 volume (96 pages) by Giovanna Lazz, Vicente Salavert and Maria Grazia Ciardi Duprè Dal Poggetto
Languages: Spanish, English, Italian
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!

#2 Tratado de Aritmética de Lorenzo el Magnífico

Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2002

Publisher: Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2002
Limited Edition: 999 copies
Binding: Blue velvet
Commentary: 1 volume by Giovanna Lazz, Vicente Salavert and Maria Grazia Ciardi Duprè Dal Poggetto
Languages: Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
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