The History and Value of Patronage

Trying something new, you can hear me narrate this post here… while you scan through the pretty pics if you want. YouTube link to my blog post narrations. 

I have two university degrees. My majors for my B.Sc. were biophysical anthropology/forensic chemistry, the other is a Masters in Teaching with a focus on World History. 

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Hard to tell which subject I like more, to be honest. These days, I don’t practice in either field due to health problems and licensure issues from our international move to Canada, but I keep up to date on professional publications for both fields. (Thank goodness for libraries.)

I rambled a bit there because what I really wanted to discuss is how far back the idea of Patronage goes in the arts, and how very important it is. (Every piece of art and every image used on this blog post, except Van Gogh’s, was made possible by patronage, Every. Single. One. So keep that in mind.)

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Patronage as the definition of supporting with cash or other forms of concrete support those creators whose work you value.white-82698_1920

In the past, it was only the very wealthy, the nobles, the kings/queens and the clergy who could do this for artists.pope-1209939_1920

We have records of patronage of the arts going all the way back to feudal Japan, around 1185 a.c.e. So it’s been going on for a long time.

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In medieval Europe, it’s the only way anything got done for the arts, because honestly, it’s damned difficult in today’s day and age to be a creative and still eat and have a roof over one’s head. Back then, it was impossible. Most of the great creators in our history had noble or royal patrons.

Like Leonard Da Vinci. He was a bastard born out of wedlock, and if he hadn’t had patrons from a very young age, we’d never have known his genius.

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Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni  Most often known as Michelangelo had several patrons from an early age. Again, without whom, we’d never have his works.

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino  Better known to most as Raphael is another great who had help with support for his works.

One who didn’t, and I’ll always wonder what he could’ve created if he had… is Vincent Van Gogh.

While there’s no doubt that he had some help from family and friends, I wonder if a more regular patronage may have been of aid in controlling the demons he most definitely struggled with. Can you imagine the wonders that may have come from his brush if he’d been certain he could both eat and afford his paints?

He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, after two years where he couldn’t sell his artwork. Two years where he couldn’t give away a painting for the cost of his dinner. Paintings which now sell for millions of dollars apiece, IF you can find one for sale.

You know, I’ve seen it said a lot lately that this time period of fear and angst and rage in the marginalized communities will equate to beautiful art. I’d really like the idea that the most stunning of art comes from tortured individuals to die in a fire and never raise its ugly head again. Because it just isn’t true.

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As I’ve proven (and could continue to prove with citations) most of the best art we’ve had in the world is because those artists were able to eat, they knew they had a roof over their heads, they had a studio to work in and the materials they needed to do their work.

In short, they had patrons.

The concept that Patreon has come up with, that just a dollar or two a month from a lot of people go to support a creator… it’s revolutionary.

In the past, it was only the rich that could help their favored artists create art, now it’s everyone. We as a culture can support the arts with our spare change. How absolutely amazing is that?

Seriously, I’d like you to stop and think about that for a moment. How mind-blowingly wonderful is it, that for the price of one fast food meal a year (roughly about 12$ here in Canada) you can help a struggling artist have the basics that they need to create art. pizza-2000595_1920

World-shaking, that’s what it really is.

I look forward to so much of the art that people with patrons are going to be able to make. I hope that everyone who can afford it will find someone to support as a patron through patreon, or even through the particular creator’s KoFis or paypal. (trust me, most of us have them, because art takes time and materials, and many of us can’t work traditional jobs for one reason or another.)

It’s so easy, and it could bring wonders to this world the likes of which we haven’t seen.

There are so many creatives out there, so many who educate or write or paint or sing or, or, or, orpick one. Something that speaks to your soul. Something that makes you feel alive.

And help them create.

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Because the only kind of art that comes out of the fear of not being able to pay your bills, or worry that you won’t have a house to live in, or food to eat… that’s the kind of art that comes at the end of a gun. Like poor Van Gogh. There were times in his life when he couldn’t give away one of the paintings we hold so valuable now… for the cost of a meal.

Times when he chose cheap wine (which was cheaper than food in the France he lived in) and his paints over eating a meal.

He chose his art over his health, and eventually he chose to take his life rather than continue to make art in an uncaring world.

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I wonder. What would he have been able to create if the world had cared, just a little bit more.

And I wonder. I wonder which creators out there, right now, are thinking of the same thing Vincent did, because they just can’t make it in a world that doesn’t value art. (oh… we value art, as long as it’s free, which is absolutely shameful… all you have to do is look at how rapidly digital books are pirated for that.)

Whose time is running out?

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As to who I support, I’m broke, so broke I can’t afford dentistry or new glasses. (More on me here) but I still scrape together enough to donate to wikipedia every year, and when I have a little extra in my paypal, I put it in a KoFi for someone so that they can keep creating.

It really doesn’t take a lot to help keep beauty and wonder in our world. I wish everyone could see that.

as always… if you like any of my words, please become one of MY patrons. I need the help, badly.

Buy Me a Coffee

Patreon image.pngPatreon is here

Paypal  and Skrill email addy is kaelan.rhywiol@gmail.com

Help me keep providing content, and you know, eating?

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