santa_maria_novella
A friend found this prescription for the American cultural philanthropist, penned in 1881 but still relevant 129 years later. It comes from a review by James Jackson Jarves, the first significant American art connoisseur, of a memoir by a Florentine merchant, Un Mercante Fiorentina a La Sua Famiglia nel Secolo XV by Giovanni di Pagolo Rucellai, whose family paid for the marble facade by Alberti of Santa Maria Novella (above).

“If we are to build up on American soil cities like Florence, world-renowned for art and science even more than for commerce and luxury, we must breed merchant princes cultured like Rucellai, and deeply imbued with his maxim, that it is pleasanter and more honorable to spend money for wise purposes than to make it; men whose souls are not shriveled by delusive notions of ‘set’ and ‘social position,’ mistaking the farthing light of self-importance for the electrical blaze of public munificence and duty.”