Art patronage in the sixteenth century came mainly from the church and from the wealthy. Are they equally sources of patronage today?
I would guess that the church is not a central source of artistic patronage today so what has replaced the church as a source of patronage today?
What does that say about our culture?
Hello. In the 16th century, when the Renaissance was flowering in Italy and other parts of europe, after centuries of medieval darkness, the wealthy nobility and new merchant/business classes were of course offering patronage to arts/artists-- but there was also a large body of churchmen, or church prelates (high ranking offcers such as the Pope, the cardinals, bishops etc) who were equally if not more, partons of the arts and learning. Now, many, if not most of the church prelates came from rich backgrounds or noble families, and obtained their positions in th first place via their connections etc. Even if they were originally humble-born men, they soon developed a fondeness for arts and learning, along the lines of the Renaissance 'spirit' then abroad.
At that time, the church (and intiially it was the Roman Catholic church) had unlimited funds, common people believed strongly and donated openly--and all this wealth was available to the churchmen to spend as they pleased, no public accountability etc. The same is definitely not the case in any of the major world churches today, strict accountability of funds, and rules and regulations for serving priests, remove most chances for such extravagant patronage. At the same time, however, wealthy people--today, mostly business people-- are still the chief patrions of the arts everywhere.