Thursday, August 23, 2018

In the Italian Renaissance, wealthy patrons used art for power

By Alina Cohen
Donatello David, 1428-1432 Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence
While centuries of scholars have parsed the meanings and symbols within Italian Renaissance artworks and architecture, their mere existence also testifies to the era’s power structures and distribution of wealth. The very act of commissioning an artist to design a building, sculpture, or painting signified the patron’s taste, erudition, financial status, and ambition. In retrospect, it’s easy to denigrate the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church throughout the Renaissance. They preached the value of humility while rewarding the wealthy and commissioning elaborate, expensive art and architecture. Yet it’s harder to deny that its money contributed to awe-inspiring cultural advances and artifacts. [More]
Leonardo da Vinci The Last Supper, 1495-1498 Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan
Benozzo Gozzoli, Journey of the Magi, 1459–62. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.