Research Paper on Patronage
Research Paper on Patronage
Rather than writing an expository essay about patronage, you will assume the character of a Italian Renaissance patron—a wealthy banker or merchant; an aristocrat; a
high ranking member of clergy, such as a bishop, cardinal, or pope; or the leading member of a guild— who has extended a commission to an artist or architect (remember
that many artists were both) to create a work of art for you. Women class members may elect to assume the role of a wife or widow of any of the above listed notables
or research women who commissioned art. This commission should be a major project, such as a new palazzo in the city; an altarpiece, chapel, or fresco cycle for a
church or family chapel; an illuminated manuscript for private or church use; a painting, sculpture or fresco cycle for a private home; or, especially in the case of a
guild, a fountain or statue for a public space. You intend through this commission to beautify a particular place, and, perhaps more importantly, to enhance your own
status as a person of wealth, intellectual achievement, superior status, and, in the case of a commission for the church, to show your devotion to God in the hope of
STYLE OF PRESENTATION
You will describe this commission in detail in a letter to a trusted family member with whom you may be perfectly candid about your purposes.
Your description of the commission should include all of the following:
1) your choice of artist or architect and why he is your preference (skill, progressiveness, reputation, workshop). Make sure you are specific and you include all this
information. You must select an artist or architect from Vasari’s Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects. Do not write about Michelangelo or
2. a general description of the project (type of building, statue, fresco, etc.) and where it will be located and why.
3) the particular architectural, sculptural or painting tradition that inspired your commission, and the theological or mythological program that will govern the
creation of the project.
4) why this commission is important to you and your family, and how you believe it will increase your status and influence in your community.
5) the resources you have to pay for the project and a general idea of the total cost.
6) a careful sketch of the proposed project that illustrates what you have in mind.
• Parts 1 through 5: letter style (date, salutation, etc.). You may use parchment-type paper to add an authentic look, if you wish. You can also use a font that
enhances the “feel” of the letter (just make sure its easy to read). Make sure that you write about the style of the artist and why you chose that artist.
• Part 6: one or more pages, as desired. (clarity, neatness and effort are more important
than artistic ability). Size is up to you, but cannot be smaller than 8.5” x 11”.
• Page requirement: 4-5 full (double spaced) pages. Points will be deducted for anything
el. Grad students: eight full pages. • Sources: Minimum of 4:
o Two sources must be printed books (digital or eBooks ok). One MUST be Giorgio Vasari’s Lives.
o 3rd source should be a scholarly journal.
o 4th source is optional but make sure its reliable. Do not cite the class text,
class notes or an encyclopedia.
§ Grad students: Minimum of 7 sources. Three must be printed.
• Use NB (notes and bibliography) Chicago Manual of Style format (CMS -see chart on Titanium).
• Bibliography should be on a separate page. Have fun and be creative!
Tips for a well-written paper:
• Provide background for Renaissance movement: politics, religion, Humanism. How does the art exist in this context? Frame your story around issue.
• Focus on the artist’s style
• Think about patronage. Why are you commissioning the work? It should not be as
simple as “our family should be in power.” How do you get there?
• The date, artist and information should be historically accurate
• Be mindful of the tone
• Keep it real
• Be creative