This paper explores different motivations for art patronage throughout the Renaissance. Art in the renaissance was often commissioned by a patron who wanted to use it as a way to communicate something to the intended viewer. Art was usually commissioned for religious and political reasons or used as proof of wealth or power.
The corruption of the church allowed for wealthy patrons to make a donation in order to buy his or her way into heaven. This is called a sale of indulgence, and it is the motivation behind countless works of renaissance art. The entire Arena Chapel painted by the artist Giotto was commissioned by Enrico Scrovegni to atone for his sin of usury. The Chapel was completed 1305 and is located in Padua, Italy. As was a common practice at the time, Enrico himself is depicted in on the wall of the chapel. “On the wall of The Last Judgment, Enrico kneels to offer a model of his church to three figures. It is commonly accepted that Enrico saw his church and its paintings as a votive gift made as a partial atonement for his father’s mortal sin of usury and to strengthen his own hope of salvation.” By having his image painted into the scene, Enrico assures that his intended audience knows it was his money that paid for the art. This is both politically and religiously motivated.
Masaccio’s Pisa Altarpiece commissioned in 1426 Pisa is another example of religiously motivated art patronage. This altarpiece was commissioned by “Ser Giuliano di Colino di Pietro degli Scarsi and the Carmelite church of S. Maria del Carmine” The intention behind this altarpiece was simply to give churchgoers a piece of relevant art to view during church and to attract more members.
An example of politically motivated art can be found in Sienna’s Palazzo Pubblico. Allegory of Good and Bad Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti was commissioned by the Sienese government. The frescos of Allegory span the walls of the building depicting life in the...