Artists at Court: Image-making and Identity, 1300-1550

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Stephen John Campbell, Evelyn S. Welch
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 2004 - Art - 268 pages
Many artists in Renaissance Europe worked for rulers who maintained courts, yet not all of them can be accurately called "court artists." The essays featured in Artists at Court explore the experiences and artistic works of artists for whom princely service was a crucial step in their career.

The contributors to this volume examine the court artist's working conditions in administrative and ceremonial capacities and how the artists' royal clients may have influenced perceptions of the artist's role and of art itself. They discuss famous artists such as Raphael, Leonardo, Claus Sluter, and Albrecht Dürer, as well as the lesser-known creators of impressive works produced for famous patrons, including the poet Petrarch, the Dukes of Savoy, and the Bentivoglio rulers of Bologna. Their examination raises questions such as: How did the artist's terms of employment compare with those of other court functionaries? To what extent did court employment correspond with the elevated characterizations of art and artists that began appearing in art treatises by Filarete, Leonardo, and Vasari, among others?

A fascinating volume that challenges the traditional dichotomy between the alleged freedom of artists working under early capitalism and the supposed subordination of "craftsmen" working for autocratic rulers, Artists at Court probes the truth behind alternately romantic and oppressed conceptions of the Renaissance artist.

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About the author (2004)

Stephen J. Campbell is professor in the history of art at The Johns Hopkins University and the author of Cosme Tura of Ferrara: Style, Politics, and the Renaissance City, 1450-1495.

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