Confraternities (religious brotherhoods), were secular groups who came together in order to pursue penitential charitable works. They sometimes had their own buildings - foundations, invariably attached to religious institutions which could be of considerable opulence (see the entry for Scuola).

They were significant patrons of the arts. Artists also worked to decorate confraternity buildings and painted banners which were used when the members took part in processions.

Source: National Gallery (London)
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