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Commissioned Paintings and the Images They Create

The Hagia Sophia, built by Isidoros and Anthemios, and The Last Supper, painted by Leonardo da Vinci, were created in the image of those who commissioned them. The Hagia Sophia was commissioned by Justinian I, the emperor of the Byzantine Empire from the years 527 – 635 (Britannica). Justinian understood his duty to uphold the teachings of the Eastern Christian Church, and wanted to benefit the people of the Byzantine Empire. At the time, Justinian was very unpopular with the people under living within his empire. The people burned down much of Constantinople and Justinian realized he needed to make some changes within himself. While rebuilding he not only ordered the Hagia Sophia to be rebuilt but also many smaller churches such as the Hagia Eirene. The Hagia Sophia, being the largest and most beautiful, soon regained his support from the people. Then, he went on to regain land for the Byzantine Empire in one of the largest military conquests ever seen. Without the push from the empire’s citizens the Hagia Sophia would have never been built (MetMuseum).

The Last Supper was commissioned by Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, for the refectory of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan (Italian Renaissance). Because there was a constant struggle power between the Italian states, Sforza employed da Vinci to make the Last Supper to prove that Milan was the best state. Although the Milanese people enjoyed the artwork being commissioned by their Duke, they were also very unhappy that their tax dollars were being put into artwork and were not used to benefit the entire community. As a result, Ludovico began to get pushed out of his seat as the Duke of Milan and the state was on the brink of a war with Naples. Ludovico refused to step down as Duke and instead formed an alliance with the King of France, Charles VIII. This led to France invading Naples. After Italy (as a whole) regained peace with France King Charles died. Louis XII took Charles’ place but decided not to keep peace with Italy. Sforza was captured by Louis’ soldiers and held in a castle where he eventually died (Britannica). The Duke of Milan really died due to caring more about art than the good of his people.

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