During the Renaissance, most art was commissioned and paid for by wealthy individuals, civic institutions, the Church, or rulers. Renaissance artists were constrained by the desires and directives of their patrons, and their works was subject to contracts, which stipulated timescales, costs, materials and so on. For the patrons commissioning art was a chance to demonstrate their wealth, legitimacy, social status and taste, and also to proclaim their piety. For the Church, commissioning art was a way of spreading the message of Christianity, and educating the general population by providing visual stories that the illiterate could understand. As the Renaissance unfolded, there was growing rivalry between the most prosperous cities, such as Florence, Vienna, Mantua and Siena, as they vied to outdo each other with their artistic commissions, which would enhance the reputation of the cities both in Italy and further afield. Successful artists were a valuable commodity, and cities competed with each other to secure their services, sometimes poaching them from rival cities.
— OR —