&#91FOUNTAIN&#93Seeking the Medici of Korea

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&#91FOUNTAIN&#93Seeking the Medici of Korea

Medici is the marquee name of patrons in the Italian Renaissance. Without the support of the Medici, scientists and artists such as Galileo Galilei, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo might not have been able to accomplish the achievements that contributed to the history of mankind.
The Medici were the most powerful and wealthy family during the Renaissance, but the family insignia is surprisingly simple and humble. The crest shows six balls, but what they represent is not clear. Some speculate that they are weights of a balance, considering that the family’s main business was banking.
The Medici family operated the most reliable banking network with the best financial technology, and even took care of asset management for the Vatican. There were 16 bank branches all over Europe, and the vast network gave the Medici a thorough knowledge of the financial situations and money flows of major European cities. Thanks to their financial dominance, the Medici family produced two popes and two French queens.
Scientists and artists found ways to repay the generous patronage of the Medici. Galileo, for example, named the four moons of Jupiter “the Medici planets” in tribute to the family.
But even the most powerful and prestigious family had its share of suffering ― in this case, an inherited condition of myopia. Scientists under the family’s patronage worked to help the family members by inventing or altering devices to improve their nearsighted vision. One of them was eyeglasses. Glasses had been invented in the 1280s in Italy, but the myopia of the Medici made the high-end eyeglass industry flourish in 14th century Venice.
The heyday of the Medici ended in 1743, when the last family member, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, died at 75 years of age. She willed all of the Medici property to the citizens of Florence. Thanks to the patronage of the Medici family, Florence remains the jewel of the Renaissance and dazzles tourists and art lovers even today.
Celebrating the 30th anniversary of its relocation to its current Mount Namsan site, the National Theater is looking for the Medici of Korea.
Before admiring the cultural heritage abroad, why don’t we become small-scale Medici for aspiring Korean artists who have world-class talent and potential? Let’s become stepping stones for the Renaissance of Korean culture.

by Kim Seok-hwan

The writer is a JoongAng Ilbo editorial writer.
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