The bubonic plague was one of the most devastating events that has ever taken place in Europe. As many people were staring death in the face they most likely felt a sense of urgency to repent for their sins. What better way than to become a patron of the arts, or more importantly a patron of religion. At this time art was becoming more available to the masses, so they had more say in what type of art was being produced, if they had enough money. Previously only the catholic church had the money to fund art, especially sculptures and works covered with gold leafing.
Although many works of art were still made for religious purposes, they were being commissioned by men that were not members of the clergy. The bible was beginning to be published in the vernacular, or the common language. It had been in Latin before, so only scholars and clergymen could read it. Lower class individuals simply trusted the church to tell them what to do to achieve their salvation.
With paper being a new media, Bibles could be made and distributed easily. More people could get books and learn to read and become more educated. They began to interpret the meanings of the Bible for themselves, and started to find their own means of salvation. Because art was being purchased by common people there began to be a few differences. For one, the art is less gaudy. There is less gold leafing and more painting. Another would be that religious figures would not always be portrayed like the church had. The patrons were sometimes inserted into the art as if they were some sort of saint.