Renaissance Era Patrons And Their Role With Artists

Renaissance Era Patrons And Their Role With Artists

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Looking at Renaissance art, we need to look at a group that significantly influenced the art and the artist – they were the art patrons. The art patrons financed or paid for the art of the Renaissance artists.

The Renaissance art patrons were an essential part of the Renaissance art movement, yet their influence on Renaissance art is not often discussed. The art patron often dictated how the art would be completed and what materials or costs they would give to the artist; this influenced what the artist could paint or sculpt. The art patrons were a driving force for Renaissance art and artists.

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Renaissance Art And The Art Patron Motivation To Support Art

During the Renaissance era, most works of art were paid for by the rulers and influential people. These rulers, religious and civic institutions, and wealthy patrons would have the artist produce statutes, frescoes, altarpieces, and portraits.

Not all the art was produced for patrons; there were artists who created art for middle-class patrons to purchase ready-made item as plaques or figurines. But many of the critical art commissions were supported by art patrons.

One of the drawbacks to this was that many art patrons would tell the artist precisely what the customer wanted or expected. In other words, many Renaissance artists were expected to sacrifice their artistic sentiments and produce exactly what the patron wanted or expected.

The art patrons were an essential part of the Renaissance art movement. Here are reasons why many of these leaders and wealthy people became patrons of the arts and supported the artists:

Renaissance Art Patrons Became Patrons For Personal Satisfaction

Many of these high-profile and very wealthy patrons decided to become patrons of the arts because it brought great personal satisfaction.

As an example of this, Leon Battista Alberti, who constructed the Palazzo Ruccellai and the facade of the Santa Maria Novella, both of these very high profiles and costly undertakings, said this about his motivations:

“All the above-mentioned things have given and give me the greatest satisfaction and pleasure, because in part they serve the honor of God as well as the honor of the city and the commemoration of myself.”

Leon battista Alberti

From Leon Battista Alberti’s memoirs, what drove him to do these commissions, is he stated that it gave him satisfaction, and he felt it was an honor for the city of Florence and himself.

Renaissance Art Patrons Became Patrons To Followed Ancient Rome

So much of the Renaissance was about looking toward ancient Greek and Rome. During the Renaissance, there was a fascination with this bygone era.

The ancient Romans led the way in spending liberally on the arts and architecture. The Roman Emperor Augustus spoke of how he transformed Rome.

The art patrons of Greek and Rome provided a model and inspiration for many of the Renaissance patrons. They wanted to emulate Greek and Rome by becoming art partons.

Listen To Our Podcast About Art Patrons And The Renaissance below or by clicking here.

Renaissance Art Patrons Became Patrons For Their Personal Brand Identity

Even in the Renaissance era, the patrons were concerned about their brand identity or how they looked and were perceived by others.

Commissioning an artwork for yourself also meant giving the artist, who was under your employee, detailed instructions of what you wanted to portray and how you wanted it.

This artistic portrayal gave the patrons a chance to show the world their sophistication, education, and wealth through art. It helped to ensure that others knew their personal wealth, and it solidified their brand and status.

Renaissance Art Patrons Were The Middle Class Who Aspired To Be Wealthy

In the Renaissance, many art patrons were also aspiring wealthy middle-class merchants who wanted to be able to increase their social recognition or, in other words, wanted to go from the middle class to wealth.

Getting their portrait done, many in the middle class saw their social recognition increase as they could show others they were prominent individuals who needed to be reckoned with. In the portraits, many of them want to look like wealthy individuals of religious importance.

Renaissance Art Patrons Wanted To Show Religious Devotion

A Renaissance art patron paid for art for a holier or, more importantly, religious purpose. They commissioned the art and paid large sums of money just for what they considered spiritual comfort or eternal salvation.

Even though religion was not as necessary during the Renaissance as in other eras, religion was still important in many individuals’ lives. Art commissions showed important religious works of art as a way to show your religious piety and your spiritual beliefs.

Renaissance Art Patrons Wanted To Show Civic Duty

For some patrons, they commissioned artwork to show that they saw civic duty and civic responsibility as very important. They wanted to portray certain city members that they considered a civic duty and civic commitment of utmost importance.

Renaissance Art Patrons Wanted To Leave A Legacy

For some art patrons, it was simply about leaving a lasting legacy. In this case, they would have themselves painted into the picture so that everyone would know and be reminded who paid for this work of art.

Being painting into the painting would have been their way of ensuring that they left a legacy and were not forgotten and always remembered.

There may not have been one particular reason why a Renaissance art patron commissioned art; it was probably a combination of many things that inspired them to want to commission some form of art.

Patrons And Their Role With The Renaissance Artists

Art patrons and the artist worked hand-in-hand with the artists. In other words, the art patron supplied the money, and the artists were the creators of the art. The artists would work under the direction of the art patrons.

Here are a few things to remember about this relationship between the art patrons and artists:

Renaissance Art Patrons Were A Primary Force For The Art

Today we look mainly at the artist who created the works of art, and we forget the art patron who was a primary force and even the main artistic direction of the artwork. The art patrons were the people paying for the artwork, so they had a massive part of the say in the art’s creation.

During the Renaissance, usually, the artists did not create art for the sake of art. The artist created art as someone was paying them to make the art. The art patrons were an integral part of the artwork created during the Renaissance era.

Renaissance Art Patrons Dictated The Cost And Materials

The Renaissance art patrons had a lot of involvement in the art. They usually were the ones that dictated the cost of materials, size, location, and even the subject matter of the art.

The art patron told the artist what they could do, not the artist telling the art patrons what they would do. That art patrons were in a far more socially and economically powerful position than the artists who served them.

In many cases, the artist was more like an employee of the art patron.

Categories Of Art Patronage For Renaissance Artists

During the Renaissance, the categories of the types of patronage can be divided into two distinct areas. Each of these areas was important to both the artist and patron. 

The Two Different Art Patron Categories Are:

  • Public Patronage – The first was public patronage. This would be a work of art displayed to a broad or public audience outside the home. This would include art in areas such as churches, town squares, and public buildings. This type of art was something that many people would see and would be of great importance.
  • Private Patronage – The other kind would be personal art which would be limited to its audience and would generally be displayed in the home of the art patron. The home of many wealthy merchants or rulers might be a semi-public place, but generally, this was art produced to be put in a private location.

As you can see from the two main types of art patronages that were taking place during the renaissance era, those in a public arena or seen by many people also helped the artist. An example of this would be an artist like Michelangelo; his public commissions that many people saw during his lifetime helped increase his fame.

Types Of Art For The Art Patronages

The types of art are also divided into two main types of art. These would be the types of renaissance art that an art patron usually pays for.

The two types of art that a renaissance art patron is willing to pay for include:

  • Religious Art – Religious art would include public and private use related to the individual’s religion or faith. Christianity was a dominant faith in Europe during the Renaissance; most of this would have been Christian-based art.
  • Secular Art – The other type of secular art or specifically non-religious art. This could have included portraits, scenes taken from history, literature, mythological subjects, or even different subjects from everyday life.

Looking at the relationship between the Renaissance art patrons and the Renaissance artist, we see they are very much intertwined and integrated. The artist needed the Renaissance art patrons; the art patrons needed the artist to create the works of art. In a sense, they both needed each other.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who were the Renaissance-era patrons, and what role did they play in the art world?

Renaissance-era patrons were wealthy individuals, including nobility, clergy, and merchants, who provided financial support to artists during the Renaissance period. They played a crucial role in commissioning and financing artworks.

2. How did Renaissance patrons choose which artists to support?

Patrons often selected artists based on reputation, artistic style, and personal preferences. Established artists with a track record of producing high-quality work were highly sought after.

3. What motivated Renaissance patrons to support artists financially?

Patrons were motivated by various factors, including a desire for personal prestige, religious devotion, and the promotion of their own social and political agendas. Art was seen as a symbol of power and influence.

4. Were Renaissance patrons involved in the creative process of the artworks they commissioned?

Yes, patrons often played a significant role in shaping the creative direction of commissioned artworks. They could specify subject matter, style, and even the materials to be used, influencing the artist’s choices.

5. What types of artworks did Renaissance patrons commonly commission?

Patrons commissioned a wide range of artworks, including portraits, religious paintings, sculptures, and architectural projects like cathedrals and palaces.

6. How did patronage impact the freedom and artistic expression of Renaissance artists?

While patronage provided financial support, it also limited the artistic freedom of Renaissance artists. They had to adhere to their patrons’ preferences and subject matter, which could restrict their creative expression.

7. Were there any famous Renaissance patrons known for their significant contributions to the art world?

Yes, there were notable Renaissance patrons such as the Medici family in Florence, Pope Julius II, and the Sforza family in Milan. These patrons played a pivotal role in fostering the Renaissance art movement.

8. What were some of the challenges faced by Renaissance artists in their relationships with patrons?

Artists often faced challenges such as meeting patrons’ expectations, negotiating fees, and managing multiple commissions simultaneously. Balancing creative integrity with patron demands could be difficult.

9. How did patronage evolve over the course of the Renaissance period?

Patronage evolved from early Renaissance, where artists had more autonomy, to High Renaissance, when patrons exerted more control. By the late Renaissance, artists gained greater independence.

10. What legacy did Renaissance-era patrons leave for the art world, and how did their influence endure beyond the Renaissance period?

Renaissance-era patrons left a lasting legacy by preserving and promoting the great works of art. Their support helped shape the art world, and many art institutions and collections today owe their existence to Renaissance patronage.

What Was The Focus Of Renaissance Art?

The focus of Renaissance art was on the classics of Greek and Rome, humanist philosophy, and the study of the human figure. Realism was also an essential part of renaissance art. The great artists of the Renaissance also became great anatomists and studied human beings.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading What Was The Focus Of Renaissance Art?.

How Is Renaissance Art Different From Medieval Art?

Medieval art was art that took place and what we know as the middle ages. During this time, art was mainly religious and was concerned with conveying Christian beliefs and values to the population. Renaissance art was less focused on religion but was more focused on the perfect human form and the daily life of people, including human emotions. Renaissance art was a very realistic art form that inspired Greeks and Roman.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading How Is Renaissance Art Different From Medieval Art?.

Greek And Rome’s Influence On Renaissance Art

The Renaissance, as a period of rebirth, was greatly influenced by the classical ancient art of Greek and Rome. During this period, many of these works of art were also rediscovered, which led to the discovery of realism, symmetry, and harmony in the arts. Greek and Roman art also influenced the subject matter of many of the Renaissance artists.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading about Greek And Rome’s Influence On Renaissance Art.

Anita Louise Hummel
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