Art History Merchant and Bankers Essay

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Arts Importance to Merchants and Bankers during the Renaissance During the renaissance the Medici’s were a very powerful and influential family in Italy. They controlled trade routes including the one from Bruges to Florence and had vast wealth within their banking systems. Through various agents they had many works of art commissioned and Cosimo Medici spent large amounts of his wealth and patronage to have works created. By transforming their wealth into art the merchants and bankers were effectively turning money into prestige, influence, power and knowledge. This led to the accumulation of even more wealth. If it had not been for this pursuit of power and knowledge it is a very real possibility that many of the works of art that we have from the renaissance would not have existed. One such piece is Hans Memling’s religious triptych The Last Judgment. Hans Memling trained under Rogier van der Weyden a pioneer of Flemish painting who was also known for his religious triptychs. Centered in this piece stands the angel Michael clad in armor while demons and angels battle for the souls of the resurrected. To Michaels right in the left piece of the triptych we see the souls of the good ascending the stairs to a Gothic style Cathedral in heaven, while to his left the wicked in the right piece of the triptych are being dragged to hell. Near the top of the painting above Michael is Christ over a rainbow surrounded by his apostles with his feet resting on a globe that represents the Earth. From Christ’s mouth a lily and a sword symbolizing mercy and justice respectively show some of the traditional Gothic elements such as Christ as a judge and angels with instruments of the passion. Memling also included other symbolic images one of which can be seen in the hands of Saint Michael. In his hands he holds the scales of justice where each side of the scale

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