Title of Poster / Presentation

The Renaissance Art Market: Economic Relationships between Italian Sculptors and Wealthy Patrons for Marketability

Presentation Type

Poster

Start Date

4-5-2022 11:00 AM

End Date

4-5-2022 1:00 PM

Subjects

Renaissance Market Sculptors Cellini Medici Economics Patronage

Advisor

Jesse Locker

Student Level

Undergraduate

Abstract

The development of Italian Renaissance art heavily relied on the commissions and patronage of wealthy elites, contributing to the evolving dynamics and cultural expectations of the art market between the 14th and 16th centuries through their monetary, social, and political influences. Through secondary research, I aim to explore the economics of this Renaissance sculpture industry through a case study of the relationship between the Italian artist Benvenuto Cellini and the art-sponsoring Medici family of Florence. Cellini’s 1545-1554 Perseus with the Head of Medusa sculpture (commissioned by Cosimo I de Medici) spawns the argument that this wasn’t simply a reflection of political connotations imbedded in contemporary gender conventions, but Cellini also treated the piece to hold a duality by also performing as a showcasing advertisement to future potential patrons. Cellini needed to make a living and fund his lifestyle, afterall. I wonder if this mindset of marketability was common among artists, whether the ability to sell held as high a priority as creativity, and understanding potential conflicts when artistic integrity clashed with a patron’s intended message. I analyze sculptures themselves through a qualitative art history lens in addition to written primary sources such as The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini as well as secondary sources, for instance, Nancy J. Vickers’ The Mistress in the Masterpiece. Furthermore, I intend to interpret economic theories (by referring to Classical, Keynesian, Malthusian, and Laissez-faire free-market economics) while attempting to consider the ethnography during this time period to provide context to these theories. This research topic increases in significance when the implications of the modern commodification of art is considered.

Persistent Identifier

https://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/37507

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May 4th, 11:00 AM May 4th, 1:00 PM

The Renaissance Art Market: Economic Relationships between Italian Sculptors and Wealthy Patrons for Marketability

The development of Italian Renaissance art heavily relied on the commissions and patronage of wealthy elites, contributing to the evolving dynamics and cultural expectations of the art market between the 14th and 16th centuries through their monetary, social, and political influences. Through secondary research, I aim to explore the economics of this Renaissance sculpture industry through a case study of the relationship between the Italian artist Benvenuto Cellini and the art-sponsoring Medici family of Florence. Cellini’s 1545-1554 Perseus with the Head of Medusa sculpture (commissioned by Cosimo I de Medici) spawns the argument that this wasn’t simply a reflection of political connotations imbedded in contemporary gender conventions, but Cellini also treated the piece to hold a duality by also performing as a showcasing advertisement to future potential patrons. Cellini needed to make a living and fund his lifestyle, afterall. I wonder if this mindset of marketability was common among artists, whether the ability to sell held as high a priority as creativity, and understanding potential conflicts when artistic integrity clashed with a patron’s intended message. I analyze sculptures themselves through a qualitative art history lens in addition to written primary sources such as The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini as well as secondary sources, for instance, Nancy J. Vickers’ The Mistress in the Masterpiece. Furthermore, I intend to interpret economic theories (by referring to Classical, Keynesian, Malthusian, and Laissez-faire free-market economics) while attempting to consider the ethnography during this time period to provide context to these theories. This research topic increases in significance when the implications of the modern commodification of art is considered.