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.