The Ways to Wealth

Ms. Ricc. 2669 - Biblioteca Riccardiana (Florence, Italy)

Alternate Titles:

Die Wege zum Reichtum

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Alternate Titles

Die Wege zum Reichtum

Extent / Format

100 pages / 17.0 x 12.0 cm

Last quarter of the 15th century

Lorenzo I. de’ Medici (1449-1492)

Artist / School

Author: Filippo Calandri
Miniaturists: Pedro Berruguete
Workshop of Botticell


230 miniatures illuminated in gold and silver

Former owners

Lorenzo's son Giovanni (Pope Leo X)

Facsimile editions available


The Way to Wealth

The Way to Wealth for Lorenzo I de Medici, named the Magnificent, should have 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 Bank 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, overly enriched with ornamentals, figurative depictions, and, above all, the Coat of Arms of the Medici. Everything is coated in priceless gold. Thus, the manuscript’s edition, which was printed in Florence in 1491, is known as a singular luxury object, whose didactical purpose coincides with artistic beauty.

A Medici Contract

Famous patron of manuscripts, Lorenzo I. de Medici (1449-1492), the most well-known member of the influential Medici dynasty in Florence, was also a leader of art. Banking practice is unquestionable connected to the Medici. They founded a modern system of banking, which was ruled by them, and were even the bankers of Pope. Lorenzo’s son Giovanni, the later Pope Leo X, should have been made confident of 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 total 230 wonderful miniatures. Next to the artful initials with exquisite leaflet work and in bright colors, the whole-page arithmetic tables are sure to impress. In bright red, blue, or green, and in golden writing, the numerical rows are noted. They go almost in a parade around the pages.
Built like an altar, with figurative depictions, like of musical putto, the arithmetic tables are shown over and over adorned with ornamentation. Floral working on the edges surrounds small putto, and overall the bright Coat of Arms of the Medici is visible. One of the most special of text pages is 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 in the text, which are often scenes of everyday life, laborers at work, but also historical events. Partly in perspective areas, the various figures scrimmage with one another. The side illustrations present the didactic intention of handling gold and wares, as well as other problems befitting the daily life of a banker, which is also mentioned within the text itself.

A Luxurious Object of the Late 15th Century

The manuscript is allegedly from the end of 15th century in Florence. In the year 1491, the ** Treatise on Arithmetic and Geometry by Filippo Calandri was printed**, with a dedication to Giuliano de Medici, a later son of Lorenzo the Magnificent. The superb manuscript-edition of this arithmetic treatise appeared, with its extensive pictoral decorations, more as an object of luxury than as a practical textbook. Written in Italian with Arabic numeric, 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 newer research it is speculated, that two different artists shared 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- or the other style of Gherardo di Giovannis and Pedro Berrunguetes.

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