Commissioned Art and Artists – Past and Present

Sometimes while I sit at my computer, posting an image of another graphite or color pencil drawing of an animal, child, wedding, etc., I think of how much the life of an artist has changed. And how some things have stayed the same.

Other than those tedious Renaissance apprenticeships (most 12 year old children these days aren’t sent off by their parents to enter a live of servitude and training), artists past and present need to work hard for a successful business. Back in the day, artists opened a physical shop where they offered a plethora of artistic services (there was no internet), they waited for clients to enter their store, they sent letters to potential patrons advertising their skills. Everything they made was for a particular customer and function – art was not simply made for the sake of art. Artists learned new techniques, competed for jobs, and only a select few became famous superstars (ahem, Michelangelo).

But even the most famous, still needed to work for their bread and butter. Don’t believe me? Check out Leonardo da Vinci’s resume. He sent this letter to the Duke of Milan when he was 30 years old. For a translation, click here.



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