Giovanni Tornabuoni

Giovanni Tornabuoni (Republic of Florence, Italy; 22 December 1428—17 April 1497) was an Italian merchant, banker and patron of the arts from Florence.

Giovanni Tornabuoni
Giovanni tornabuoni, affresco nella cappella tornabuoni di domenico ghirlandaio (detail).jpg
Donor portrait of Giovanni Tornabuoni in the Tornabuoni Chapel, by Domenico Ghirlandaio.
Director of the branch in Rome
Assumed office
Preceded byLeonardo Vernacci
Succeeded byFrancesco Sassetti
Ambassador in the Papal court
In office
Gonfaloniere di Giustizia
In office
Personal details
Italy Republic of Florence, Italy
Died1497 (aged 69)
OccupationMerchant, banker and patron of art


Giovanni's father Francesco Tornabuoni was a successful entrepreneur and in 1427 the sixth largest taxpayer in Florence. His taxable wealth was considerable, 46,320 florins.[1] With his second wife, Nanna di Niccolò Guicciardini, Francesco Tornabuoni had eight children, of whom the two youngest, Lucrezia and Giovanni Tornabuoni, were the most famous. Lucrezia became famous above all because she married Piero de' Medici in 1444 and became the mother of Lorenzo de' Medici, the Magnificent, in 1449. Giovanni Tornabuoni is therefore the uncle of Lorenzo de' Medici.

He had strong connections with the House of Medici, being the brother of Lucrezia Tornabuoni, and therefore Lorenzo il Magnifico's uncle.[2] In 1443 was named director of the branch in Rome, being Leonardo Vernacci the predecessor,[3] as treasurer of Pope Sixtus IV.[4]

Around 1475, Giovanni Tornabuoni commissioned a portrait of his sister by Domenico Ghirlandaio, which is now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C..[5]

He was also Florentine ambassador in the Papal court in 1480 and 1484, and gonfaloniere di Giustizia in 1482. In 1485 he signed a contract with painter Domenico Ghirlandaio for a grand cycle of frescoes in what was to become the Tornabuoni Chapel in the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence.[6] Tornabuoni and his wife, Francesca Pitti, are portrayed as donors in the choir wall. He had been already portrayed by Ghirlandaio in the Sistine Chapel in the Vocation of Andrew and Paul.

Giovanni and Lorenzo were probably commissioned for the wedding in 1486 of Giovanni's son Lorenzo to Giovanna of the Albizzi family, and are therefore thought to depict the two on A Young Man Being Introduced to the Seven Liberal Arts.[7]

By 1490, when the large Tornabuoni Chapel fresco cycle by Domenico Ghirlandaio was completed, family members and political allies of the Tornabuoni populate several scenes in considerable numbers, in addition to conventional kneeling portraits of Giovanni Tornabuoni and his wife.[8]

With Lorenzo's death on 8 April 1492, the succession passed to his 20-year-old son Piero di Lorenzo de' Medici (1472–1521).[9] Piero had no talent for running the bank and depended on his secretary and his great-uncle Giovanni Tornabuoni to handle everything. The two mismanaged the bank and balked the new ministro's, Giovambattista Bracci, efforts.[10]

In 1494 Tornabuoni succeeded Francesco Sassetti in the direction of the Medici Bank.

Popular cultureEdit

He is mentioned in the video game Assassin's Creed II as the mentor of Ezio Auditore.[11]


  1. ^ The amount is listed in the files of the land registry, which are kept in the Florentine National Archives, Archivio di Stato di Firenze, ASFi, Catasto 77, fol. 390r. Plebani, Eleonora (2002). I Tornabuoni. Una famiglia fiorentina alla fine del Medioevo (in German). Milan: FrancoAngeli. p. 105. ISBN 978-88-464-4179-9.
  2. ^ Böninger, Lorenzo (2015). "PITTI, Luca di Buonaccorso". Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (in Italian). 84. Treccani.
  3. ^ Parks, Tim (August 22, 2013). Medici Money: Banking, metaphysics and art in fifteenth-century Florence. Profile Books. p. 168. ISBN 9781847656872.
  4. ^ Montresor, Carlo (2010). Botticelli. ATS Italia Editrice. p. 50. ISBN 9788865241110.
  5. ^ Tomas, Natalie R. (2003). The Medici Women: Gender and Power in Renaissance Florence. Aldershot: Ashgate. p. 66-69. ISBN 0754607771.
  6. ^ de Francovich, Géza (1932). "GHIRLANDAIO". Enciclopedia Italiana (in Italian).
  7. ^ Deimling, Barbara (2000). Sandro Botticelli 1444/5 - 1510. Cologne, Germany: Taschen. p. 12. ISBN 978-3-8228-5992-6.
  8. ^ Tinagli, Paola (June 15, 1997). Women in Italian Renaissance Art: Gender, Representation, Identity. Manchester University Press. pp. 64–72. ISBN 0-7190-4054-X.
  9. ^ Graphics (April 2, 2014). "The Medici Family – The Leaders of Florence". The Italian Tribune. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  10. ^ de Roover, Raymond Adrien (1966). The rise and decline of the Medici Bank: 1397–1494. New York City, Toronto: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. p. 86. ISBN 9780393003505. LCCN 63-11417.
  11. ^ Paternoster, Agnese (August 12, 2015). "Ezio Auditore da Firenze: tra storia e fenomeno videoludico". Toc Toc Firence (in Italian). Retrieved January 26, 2018.