To 'patronize someone' or 'to be patronizing' is more less speaking down to a person usually in a 'sweet' manner (i.e. subtly acting like you're better than them, acting in an arrogant manner, treating someone like a child) but not opening being hostile or mean. Think of a person talking to you sweetly, but it comes across that they are superior to you, don't respect you, don't take you seriously, etc....then they would be 'patronizing towards you.'
It comes from back in the day when artists and writers were literally patronized by rich, wealthy people....i.e. wealth people ( the patrons) gave money to artists to support their work or more often to commission work that was meant to bring glory to the wealthy person. I could imagine, in this situation, it could be annoying for the artist because they were completely dependent on the wealthy person for money and support-- this would create a dynamic we're the wealthy person, probably with a big ego, had all the control and could abuse or take advantage of the artist emotionally because of their dependence on the patron.