Apollo and Vulcan

Apollo and Vulcan: The Art Markets in Italy, 1400-1700

Guido Guerzoni
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Apollo and Vulcan
    Book Description:

    Guido Guerzoni presents the results of fifteen years of research into one of the more hotly debated topics among historians of art and of economics: the history of art markets. Dedicating equal attention to current thought in the fields of economics, economic history, and art history, Guerzoni offers a broad and far-reaching analysis of the Italian scene, highlighting the existence of different forms of commercial interchange and diverse kinds of art markets. In doing so he ranges beyond painting and sculpture, to examine as well the economic drivers behind architecture, decorative and sumptuary arts, and performing or ephemeral events.

    Organized by thematic areas (the ethics and psychology of consumption, an analysis of the demand, labor markets, services, prices, laws) that cover a large chronological period (from the 15th through the 17th century), various geographical areas, and several institution typologies, this book offers an exhaustive and up-to-date study of an increasingly fascinating topic.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-361-6
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    Over the last couple of decades, the theme of the art market has become one of the most frequently studiedtopoiof Italian and international art history. And perhaps precisely because of this, it has become a sort of affirmation of a principle on which both the art historians and economic (there are few in Italy) historians agree, even if in a vague and unspecific way. Studies on patrons, collectors, account books of this or that painter have multiplied, but there has been no attempt to connect the interests that motivate art and economic historians or the general picture of...

  5. Preface
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. xvii-xl)

    At the beginning of my research, there was not yet any historical-economical literature on the “art markets,” but my early analyses of the primary sources—especially those concerning the courts—and exploration in the more specialized art-historical literature convinced me that the production and consumption of artwork, luxury items, and services were really the backbone of pre-industrial economies and far from being just accessories. On the contrary, in observing the Italian situation, I persuaded myself that that backbone had already supported the industrial takeoff—today we may say it—by mitigating the backlash of the violent postindustrial landing, from the...

  7. CHAPTER 1 Historiographies: The Perspectives of Economics, Economic History, and Art History
    (pp. 1-28)

    Only recently have the art markets become a field of study for various scholars, even though it was not easy to gain their interest, after decades of embarrassment and omissions that explain the disgraceful conditions in which these circles found themselves, that the nobility of art contrasted with vile commerce, echoing those warnings of the casting of the merchants from the temples of the beautiful and sublime. To explain this evolution, I have attempted to reconstruct the decisive moments of the three principal veins, beginning with economics, following that with the contribution of economic history, and then finally, art history....

  8. CHAPTER 2 The Psychology and Ethics of Consumption: The Debate on Liberality, Magnificence, and Splendor
    (pp. 29-44)

    For some years now my good humor has been menaced by the declarations of those who praise “Italy’s first-place standing with its historical artistic patrimony.” As much as I detest the patter of percentages tossed about freely (and anyway never less than 50 percent) to establish the exact proportions of our national pride, in this moment I may not subtract myself from the obligation to try to respond to the question posed by Richard Goldthwaite at the beginning of his famous book: “Why were so many works of art produced in the Renaissance in Italy?”¹

    This question, which has stimulated...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Demand Analysis: The Example of the Este Courts between the Fifteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
    (pp. 45-78)

    For some decades now the word pair “art-court” has held sway in the titles of innumerable essays and monographs almost as though it were a catchphrase meant to be immediately understood by the most distracted reader. And yet, despite isolated attempts,¹ the juridical-institutional profiles of court artists, the varying forms of satisfaction of demand for artistic-luxury goods and services, and the politics of court patronage have not been completely examined, but remain tied to the brilliant interpretation in Martin Warnke’s² analysis of a nearly antique secondary literature.

    Warnke himself explained this lacuna, noting the difficulties he encountered in the late...

  10. CHAPTER 4 Supply and Labor Markets: Organizational Structure, Management Techniques, and Economic Impacts of Ducal Este Building Yards in the Cinquecento
    (pp. 79-106)

    The importance of the economic and occupational impact of a broadened artistic demand became, I believe, clearly evident in the previous chapter. In the light of those considerations I intend to examine the question by looking at what happened in the architectural field, an artistic area that early modern economic historians of the last thirty years have investigated with increasing interest,¹ as one can deduce from the ample historiography so well examined by Alberto Grohmann in his contribution to the conference held at the Datini Institute of Prato in 2004² dedicated to the “Building Sector before the Industrial Revolution.” Unlike...

  11. CHAPTER 5 Services: The Economy of the Feast and the Feast of the Economy—Some Thoughts on Ephemera
    (pp. 107-120)

    In the last thirty years the scholars of art and architecture and theatrical and musical historians have often met on a common ground that concerns the machinery and apparatus constructed on the occasions of the so-calledephemera: banquets, carnivals, spectacles of all sorts, fireworks displays, weddings, funerals, triumphs, arrivals, possessions, processions, tournaments, jousts, palios, obstacle courses,quintane(quintains), water battles, balls, football and tennis matches, equestrian parades and military reviews, “sieges,” and so on.

    This step was important, marked by the continental schools (Italy¹ and France² in the first instance), but quickly taken up, in the wake of Roy Strong’s³...

  12. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  13. CHAPTER 6 Prices: Known Facts and Unresolved Problems
    (pp. 121-138)

    Dealing with the formation of prices of artworks and luxury goods is not simple given that price history boasts a past of a size and quality great enough to frighten anyone, since for almost half a century it constituted a nearly autonomous sector, and then become one of the principal areas of economic research. On the other hand, as Earl J. Hamilton wrote in 1944, “The prices of commodities and wages of labor recorded in contemporaneous account books are the oldest continuous objective economic data in existence,” and economic historians “have not neglected this great intellectual resource.”¹ Nevertheless, despite the...

  14. CHAPTER 7 The Laws: The Birth of Cultural Heritage and the Impact of Preservation Laws on the Art Trade
    (pp. 139-162)

    The legal factors are essential to understanding the dynamics of the art markets, even if their modes and their spheres of influence have not been carefully studied, with the exception of rare and circumscribed cases. In fact there are ample and varied cases of legislative provisions and legal resolutions that have had a notable impact on these commercial equilibria, sensitive to minimal variations and supersensitive to major ones. That occurred because of the “saprophagous and saprophilous” nature of the traffic, which has always been nurtured by decomposition, and fibrillated whenever difficulties, traumas, and accidents struck individuals, classes, institutions, and territories....

  15. Notes
    (pp. 163-206)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 207-258)
  17. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 259-260)
  18. Index
    (pp. 261-276)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 277-277)