15th–18th century European Art
The Collection Galleries
During this time period most European art was supported by the church, nobility and political rulers. Their patronage had a significant impact on the themes and subjects artists depicted. The church, for example, employed artists to decorate churches and other religious buildings and political rulers commissioned portraits. This latter group was composed of carefully designed and painted images to promote the belief that the ruler was destined to govern and had absolute power. Artists who painted religious imagery furthered the goals of the Church by using a widely understood system of symbols to educate and inform the laity about Christ, the saints and the holy days in the Christian calendar.