chapter  2
12 Pages

THE DEMAND FOR MIDDLE-CLASS AND COURTLY ART IN THE QUATTROCENTO

The art public of the Renaissance consists of the urban middle class and the court society of the residences. The trends of taste represented by these two circles have many points of contact despite their different origins. On the one hand, the courtly elements of the Gothic style have an after-effect in middle-class art and with the revival of the chivalric ways of life, which had never entirely lost their powers of attraction on the lower classes, the middle class adopts new forms of art governed by the taste of the courts; on the other hand, court society, too, finds it impossible to keep aloof from the realism and rationalism of the middle class and it participates in the formation of a conception of the world and of art, which has its origin in urban life. At the end of the Quattrocento the urban middle-class and the chivalric-romantic directions in art are so intermingled that even such a thoroughly middle-class art as the Florentine assumes a more or less courtly character. But this phenomenon is merely in keeping with the general trend and simply marks the way leading from urban democracy to princely absolutism.