Changes of the patronage system during Renaissance
Different from the fully developed art market today, there were few individual traders of art works in the Renaissance period. Historically, artists rarely undertook major artworks without a patron’s concrete commission. The patron could be a civic group, religious entity, private individual, or even the artists’ guild itself. Art patrons before the Renaissance period tended to be either royalty or clergy. Kings from various kingdoms commissioned works of art and architecture from famous artists and architects of the period. In the early part of the Renaissance Northern Europe especially the Holy Roman Empire whose core was Germany enjoyed a relatively stable economic period. Without a dominant court culture the clergy and merchants became patrons of the arts. The dominant themes of this period were mostly religious themed art. The artist would submit proposals to his patron for approval and if approved would begin the project with the patrons guidance. Usually the painting or sculpture was meant to project the wealth and power of the patron. The most dominant themes were religious themes. Art patronage in the Italian Renaissance came from different sources, public and private, religious and secular, much as it does today. It was not always so. Times were hard for rich and poor alike during the Middle Ages. Europe saw the collapse of the feudal system. Following this, peasants who had previously worked the fields under the protection of their feudal lords left the countryside, migrating to the towns and city centers in pursuit of more lucrative means of support. As population centers became crowded, unfortunately, so followed the Black Death, wiping out a large percentage of the inhabitants. Patronage of the arts was given little thought during this time as people were struggling merely to survive. When the plague finally subsided, however, there emerged a new thriving middle class of merchants and businessmen,...
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