Bartholomäus Spranger: Allegory of Emperor Rudolf II, 1592

In His Majesty’s Service

Artists’ Lives in the Renaissance


Employing craftsmen and artists at court was important to many dynasties. The objects they created embellished their rulers’ lavish lifestyles, famous artists enhanced their reputations, provided welcome diversion and emphasized the leading role such a court played in society. For their part, the artists sought contact with rulers by sending samples of their ability – in particular portraits, hoping for a prestigious position at court. In the interaction between the free art market, restricted guild practices and royal commissions, artists at court worked in a context of accommodation and exploitation.

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