Although it is hardly a new idea that the development of Italian painting in the period between 1200 and 1600 was shaped by the shifting requirements of its patrons, Kempers has articulated a useful schema for analyzing the interaction of this professionalization of painting and the artistic needs of evolving urban societies. Thus, the patronage of painting is set into social frameworks dominated sequentially by mendicant orders, civic authorities, merchant families, and papal and aristocratic courts. The impact of these societal forces manifested themselves in terms of the placement, format, and content of the works while encouraging artistic competition, innovation, and ``improvement.'' This historical sociological lens provides a sometimes useful and sometimes crudely schematic tool for scrutinizing individual paintings. Also questionable is this very informative volume's attempt to contextualize artistic change in terms of the amorphous notions of ``civilizational ideals'' and state formation. For specialized collections.-- Robert Cahn, Fashion Inst. of Technology, New York
This fascinating study explores the "professionalization" of the Renaissance artist, or the process whereby society of that time contributed to Italian artists' attaining professional status. In an examination of relationships between painters and their patrons, Professor Kempers traces the passing of power--and highly prized commissions--from the papacy and its monastic orders to governing councils of city-states and, finally, to preeminent merchant families. Although black-and-white reproductions serve as references, masterpieces are more vividly depicted through the author's adept descriptions (including the implications of images and their power to communicate and glorify specific agendas of various patrons). The exalted realm of Renaissance painting is illuminated by this penetrating inquiry into the historical climate and distinctive social system that allowed an art form to develop and flourish almost beyond imagining. Extensively notated.