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Patrons of Art in the Renaissance Period

Some patrons of art were groups of men who were members of powerful guilds. The intent of many patrons is seen in the artwork.

Historically, art would remain only a minuscule fragment of what it is today if it didn’t enjoy massive support and therefore astounding success during the Renaissance (15th-18th centuries). However, artists painted, sculpted, composed, and wrote only because patrons made it possible. This was because artists depending on arts as a source of livelihood could barely scrounge enough resources to make ends meet let alone make a name for themselves. Patrons of art provided them with the necessary financial backing and social influence.

Money and power were two major requirements for arts patronage and there’s very little surprise that only the aristocrats, royals, notable church figures, governments and a few others could attempt such a venture. As expected, the patrons of art also influenced the ideas and styles of art in the period. Several notable personalities were involved in patronage and correspondingly helped to define art history as we know it today.

Art Patronage by the Aristocracy

What impact did Lorenzo de Medici have on the Renaissance?
Lorenzo de Medici

 Lord of Florence from 1469-to 1492, Lorenzo de Medici was one of the biggest patrons of the period. Instead of using his wealth to sponsor would-be artists, he often employed his vast influence to help artists gain financing. Some of the biggest artists in the period – Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, and Michelangelo Buonarroti rose to fame through Lorenzo. Further, Lorenzo’s refined taste in art was reflected heavily in the Florentine Renaissance. His artists, notably Botticelli, saw beauty as a tool to demystify divinity.

Capella sassetti, conferma della regola francescana, dettaglio 05

Royal Patronage

The bulk of royal patronage in the period is easily traced back to the French monarchy. Louis XIV spared no resources in surrounding himself with the best artists. Writers like Moliere and Jean Racine sang his praises, and Sculptors like Girardon and Coysevoc made statues for him. Further, he conferred nobility on Painter Charles Le Brun and Architect Jules Hardouin-Mansard. Louis XIV can be regarded as the greatest patron of art history. Classical art was the mainstay as it agreed with the majestic nature of French royalty.

Louis XIV en Jupiter, vainqueur de la Fronde

Art Patronage by Women

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Given the patriarchal order of the Renaissance Society, the patronage of the Marchioness of Mantua, Isabella d’Este stands out. She couldn’t muster the financial strength of her male counterparts, however, she was a patron to notable painters like Leonardo da Vinci and Mantegna artists like Raphael Perugino and writers like Ariosto.

Some patrons of art were groups of men who were members of powerful guilds. Nuns, monks, confraternities, and merchants also participated in art patronage. The intent of many patrons is seen in the artwork and can help to explain the meaning.

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