Renaissance : the Artist and Society

Previously, the church had almost a monopoly on the arts : the church employed artists such as architects and painters to built and decorate the churches. The church was very much in control, issued standards according to which the product, the piece of art, had to be produced.
In Renaissance Italy, this changed as now a wealthy group of merchant-bankers appeared which discovered the arts as investment. The MEDICI family gathered talented artists in Florence. Men such as Bruneleschi, DA VINCI, MICHELANGELO were given more artistic freedom than the church hitherto was prepared to give their artists, the Medicis, as their MAECENES, provided them with a secure income. Thus, the relation of artist and maecene, named after the Roman Maecenas, was reestablished; from now on until the French Revolution, many monarchs all over Europe made it a habit to have artists (composers, writers, painters, ballets, operas) at their court.

From the Renaissance period onward, artists tried, in their art, to express their innermost feelings. Their longing for independence often clashed with their loyalty to their maecenes - REMBRANDT VAN RIJN died in poverty because he was unwilling to paint art on order.


This page is part of World History at KMLA
Last revised on May 31st 2001