365 Days of Art: April 5 – Lightning Strikes Duomo; Portends Medici Death

April 5, 1492

The Duomo of Santa Maria de Fiore is struck by lightning, causing several tons of marble to fall to the street on the north side of cupola, in the direction of Villa Careggi. This is the home of Lorenzo de’ Medici, grandson of Cosimo de’ Medici, whose patronage made the Duomo possible. (Like his grandfather, Lorenzo is also a patron of the arts, securing commissions and even housing Michelangelo for five years). Lorenzo is already in bed with a fever, and when he is told of the lightning and the omen of the falling rubble, declares:

I am a dead man!

Doctors give him potions made from pulverized diamonds and pearls, and advise him to avoid grape seeds, and the air at sunset. Despite the best of modern medicine, and the priciest of bowel movements, Lorenzo dies three days later.