Great Patrons of the Italian Renaissance: The Medici to Pope Julius II

Turbulent lives and unparalleled cultural achievements characterize the most celebrated art patrons of the Italian Renaissance. The ruling elites not only shaped the political landscape of the Italian city states, they permitted the greatest artists of the time to create extraordinarily ambitious commissions.

In these four lectures, we will focus first on the Medici of Florence, notably Lorenzo the Magnificent, humanist scholar and patron of Michelangelo. We will then trace the lives of the Gonzaga in Mantua; of Ludovico Sforza of Milan, patron of Leonardo da Vinci; and of Federico da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino. We’ll conclude with a look at Pope Julius II, who oversaw the creation of some of the greatest masterworks of Michelangelo, Raphael and Bramante in High Renaissance Rome.

A $40 discount will be applied automatically for adults 55+.

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

Campus Session(s) Instructor(s) Cost Seats available  
Vancouver 4 Efrat El-Hanany $120.00 0 Join Waitlist

What will I learn?

Week 1: Introduction and the house of Medici

We will introduce the various kinds of commissions and patrons (church, government and private) that characterize the Italian Renaissance. As we trace the rise to power of Florence’s ambitious and influential Medici family, we will examine some of the early masterpieces commissioned by Cosimo the Elder, the greatest private patron of his age.

Week 2: The Florence of Lorenzo the Magnificent

We will focus on the extraordinary life and patronage of Lorenzo de’ Medici. Banker, politician, statesman, diplomat and de facto ruler of the Republic of Florence, Lorenzo presided over a magnificent humanistic court of artists, poets and scholars.

Week 3: Art patronage in the Courts of Urbino, Mantua and Milan

The ruthless military rulers of the Italian Renaissance were at the same time enlightened patrons. We will examine the lives and patronage of the Gonzaga in Mantua, of Ludovico Sforza in Milan and of Federico da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino, whose leading court artists included such illustrious figures as Mantegna, Leonardo da Vinci and Piero della Francesca.

Week 4: Julius II, Patron of Bramante, Michelangelo and Raphael in Rome

We will see how Pope Julius II commissioned the most outstanding architects and artists of his age to create the great monuments and fresco cycles of the Vatican, including the new St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and Raphael’s Stanze.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

Look at other courses in