Wealthy and powerful families were able to financially support artists through commission
Wealthy families, like the Medici family of Florence, paid artists for their services. This form of commission was known as patronage. The people who paid the artists were known as patrons, and these patrons allowed artists like Leonardo da Vinco, Michaelangelo, and Cossa to live fulfilling lives.
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A wealthy family could show its prominence by commissioning artwork. This form of exchange was known as patronage. Arguably most famously, the Medici family of Florence were the patrons of many artists. They paid for such pieces as Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Michelangelo’s Tomb of Lorenzo Medici, and Donatello’s bronze David. Through these commissions, many artists gained fame and recognition, which led to more projects and the ability to make a living through art. Patrons considered artists skilled workers, comparable to blacksmiths, artisans, and other valuable manual laborers of the time. As these artists gained fame and developed new artistic techniques, they could charge patrons more for their works. By and large, the bigger the work, the more expensive it was for the patron. The Catholic Church commissioned many pieces of art – such as frescos, statues, and the paintings within buildings (i.e., Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel). If they needed to raise money to support the artists, the church would tax Christians throughout Europe. The Italian Renaissance, time and again, has shown that the wealthy and powerful financially supported artists through commissioned works.
While some artists gained money and fame from families that commissioned their work, most artists during the Italian Renaissance did not see financial stability from their trade. Instead, most of these artists held other forms of primary work, while only exercising their creative thoughts as a hobby on the side. To consider the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Donatello, as standard is short-sighted. For every one of these men, countless others never gained financial support and fame.