Patronage and artistic careers: the role and influence of aristocratic protection.

Élodie Oriol

This research has the objective of studying the careers of artists through evaluating the significance of their service within the aristocracy for their own career development. By comparing their individual paths, we propose to understand how this aspect or stage of the “trade” (i.e. artistic practices in the private sphere) interacted with the other components of their artistic activity.

The involvement of their protectors exceeded the scope of aristocratic palaces; they served a function within musical life on a much wider scale. They frequently and actively participated in public cultural life, both as commissioners of musical works in church (devotional works) and as patrons of performances arranged in the public sphere (in the streets and in the squares of Rome) to mark the visit of an illustrious character for an event linked to the lives of aristocratic families.

Therefore, “private” events within the palaces were integrated within a larger and multifaceted musical market in an urban context, including musical events in chapels, public theatres, seminaries, oratories, etc. Thus, the connection of an artist to one or more patrons would allow him to obtain further engagements, multiplying opportunities for social interaction in order to build or consolidate one’s reputation. What was the role of a patron in the integration of artists within other musical fields?

Beginning from the examination of specific case studies, it will thus be necessary to inquire into the function of the patron in the development of an artistic career (contributions, limitations, etc.). Did the political, social and cultural system of the Papal city, which was not focused around a single royal or aristocratic court, confer a particular structure to the professional path of artists who practised in the city? Was patronage the catalyst for the success of their career path?

The collection of the archives of the Caetani family (Palazzo Caetani) and Borghese family (Vatican Secret Archives) will be explored in order to investigate these issues.