Art Speaks: But why can’t most of us?

What would our life be like without art? Our clothes would be dull, movies would not exist, drawings would be extremely rare to come by, and those comics in the newspaper would not light up little kids’ lives every Sunday. Most of the items listed are at fair prices so most of the public can afford them, but in the Renaissance Age, art was a sign of power and wealth and Patrons would hire famous artists to do masterpieces for them, such as religious altars or portraits. In my opinion, being an artist at the time was a great profession if the patron payed a lot of money. The profession not only created opportunity for many people to earn a great living, but also portrayed the artist himself. Unique styles show individual personality that revealed the creator’s morals, thoughts, and traditions. I think that expressing the individual personality and thought helps us as humans understand issues more easily, from racism conflicts to social class poverty.

Sadly, most of the masterpieces from the Renaissance were made by male painters of the upper class.

Art was for the upper class who could afford to go to art school. The wealthy spent most of their money on furnishings that made rooms more luxurious and aesthetically pleasing. I find it disappointing that the minority and uneducated class could not get a profession in the art field.
However, some lower class artists were able to climb up the ladder of fame.

According to the Encyclopedia of World Biography, “Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, and scientist. He was one of the greatest minds of the Italian Renaissance, and his influence on painting was enormous to the following generations.”

"Adoration of the Magi" by Leonardo da Vinci

He also was illegitimate, which was considered to be very low on the society chain. He was apprenticed to Andrea del Verrocchio, who was “the leading artist of Florence and the early Renaissance” (unknown) and in 1478, Leonardo set up a studio and in 1481 received a major church commission where he created the Adoration of the Magi. His career as an artist took off from there. It was possible for a lower class man to become a famous artist because Leonardo made it, but that doesn’t mean that it was easy to do so.

Women were also a minority when it came to art. Their real thoughts and reality were rarely  depicted in paintings because men could not paint what women thought.

“Perhaps they did enjoy the fun and creativity of the era as much as the men did, but there were not enough women artists at the time to represent it and leave a clear enough visual history” (Drahman, Tess).

Maybe I’m biased because I am a girl, but I find it insulting that women were forced to fit the mold of a stereotypical view created by a patriarchy and couldn’t speak up about their own thoughts. Society believed that women’s roles were limited to child-bearing and house-cleaning. Many people thought that it was inappropriate for a woman to go to art school due to studying the nude body and being viewed in public. Opportunity for a woman to become a famous artist was very minimal.

That doesn’t mean that they were out of the picture though.

"The Chess Game" by Sofinisba Anguissola

A famous woman painter from the Renaissance is Sofonisba Anguissola. Her father taught her skills in art from his prior experiencesbecause, and I agree with his thoughts, he believed that education should not be restricted from women. She soon grew to create masterpieces such as The Chess Game, which displays a more realistic view of what women were really like. Another painting, Bernardo Campi Painting Sofonisba Anguissola, is one of the very few paintings that shows a woman fully clothed. She wanted the viewer to be drawn to the art instead of a nude body, which my guess is that she didn’t like how most painters portrayed women in a sensual way.

I think that it was unfair that lower class members and women could not become famous artists as easily as the upper class men. Opportunity should be equal for everyone, no matter what their background might be. Nowadays, I think that there has been more equal opportunities for all races, classes, and genders because art schools accept wide varieties of people and even provide financial aid for those that cannot afford tuition. Our society has changed from then, and I think the change was for the better. Creativity is alive in everyone’s head, not just wealthy men. All he or she has to do is release those thoughts to turn ideas from imagination to reality.

Works Cited

McKay, John P. Hill, Bennet D. Buckler, John. Crowston, Clare Haru. Wiesner-Hanks, Merry E. A Histyory of Western Society. Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008. Print.



  1. matthewthemadscientist

    Really interesting!
    Do you think that the class barriers to recognition described occurring in the renaissance still are around today? It seems to me that the vast majority of recent presidential primary debates have at least spent some time demonizing the poor.

  2. mollyageofreason

    Hey Sydney! Cool blog posting- you point out a lot of what has changed societally from the Renaissance. I was wondering if there is something specific that made Sofonisba Angissola’s dad have a different view about women’s education that the majority of society during the Renaissance; perhaps a strong female influence as a child, or something like that.

  3. ilana1234

    Hey Sydney, nice blog post!
    I really like how you go into equal opportunity and link it to society today. How do you think the art has changed shifting into an era where everyone has an equal opportunity to create and display art? Thanks,

  4. sydney013868

    Thank you all for reading this post! I will do my best to answer all of your questions.

    I haven’t been paying too much attention to the presidential campaigns lately, but I definitely think that class barriers still exist today. For our recent English 10 class discussion, I researched class effects on education. Those that were in poverty were more likely to not meet state requirements and drop out of high school while those in the middle class and higher had better statistics.

    I looked into Sofonisba Anguissola’s father, but I just can’t find very much information about his past. I originally assumed that he would support girls receiving an education because he had six daughters, but he also had one son. If there were only girls, I would assume that he would want at least one to get a good profession by treating them as sons instead of daughters, but because he had a son, I don’t think that this is the case. I wish I could find out more about this subject, but this is all I’ve got.

    I think that a lot of Renaissance genres have disappeared over time and that other ideas have emerged during modern times because our perspective has broadened. Because the variety of artists has increased, our views have been opened wider and thus there are many different genres of art.

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