Religion was an incredibly powerful element in Renaissance society.
From the early Byzantine period through the Counter-Reformation,
Christianity heavily influenced the arts, music, and society as a whole.
Wealthy patrons were a vital source commissioning religious art pieces,
but often this was their way of buying piety, having saintly
representations of themselves included in the works as well as donating
large sums to the church. This is, in similarity to purchasing
indulgences, a way that the wealthy used their money, power, and
influence to shape society. Overall, the ideas of the church first
shaped the ideals of proper behavior in society, and the wealthy,
privileged class reinforced those ideals by commissioning works of art
that both benefited the church as well as depicted them in glory towards
the heavens. The religious symbolism within their commissions allowed
their piety and power to be recognizable to their publics. This served
the dual purpose of showing their elevation in society and promoting
their religious convictions. Therefore the wealthy members of society
held a large amount of power in terms of promoting the religious ideals
of the Renaissance.
Full Paper: Patrons of Religious Renaissance Art and their Influence