Genoa has been a thriving seat of maritime commerce and finance for centuries. Governed by a powerful oligarchy, Genoa still harbours splendid artworks commissioned by doges and wealthy aristocrats, often depicted by Van Dyck. The masterworks that adorn public and private Genoese palaces belong to collections that have been passed down intact over the centuries. Recent restorations of some private residences, as well as the intervention of Genoa native Renzo Piano, have renewed the city's former glory.