The Patron's Payoff: Conspicuous Commissions in Italian Renaissance Art

The Patron's Payoff: Conspicuous Commissions in Italian Renaissance Art

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Princeton University Press

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The Patron's Payoff: Conspicuous Commissions in Italian Renaissance Art

In The Patron's Payoff, Jonathan Nelson and Richard Zeckhauser apply the innovative methods of information economics to the study of art. Their findings, written in highly accessible prose, are surprising and important. Building on three economic concepts—signaling, signposting, and stretching—the book develops the first systematic methodology for assessing the meaning of art patronage and provides a broad and useful framework for understanding how works of art functioned in Renaissance Italy.

The authors discuss how patrons used conspicuous commissions to establish and signal their wealth and status, and the book explores the impact that individual works had on society. The ways in which artists met their patrons' needs for self-promotion dramatically affected the nature and appearance of paintings, sculptures, and buildings. The Patron's Payoff presents a new conceptual structure that allows readers to explore the relationships among the main players in the commissioning game—patrons, artists, and audiences—and to understand how commissioned art transmits information. This book facilitates comparisons of art from different periods and shows the interplay of artists and patrons working to produce mutual benefits subject to an array of limiting factors. The authors engage several art historians to look at what economic models reveal about the material culture of Italy, ca. 1300 1600, and beyond. Their case studies address such topics as private chapels and their decorations, donor portraits, and private palaces.

In addition to the authors, the contributors are Molly Bourne, Kelley Helmstutler Di Dio, Thomas J. Loughman, and Larry Silver.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691125411
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 08/04/2008
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 7.10(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Illustrations ix

Foreword xiii

Preface xvii

Introduction 1


Chapter One: Main Players: Patrons, Artists, and Audiences 17

Chapter Two: Analytic Framework: Benefits, Costs, and Constraints 37

Chapter Three: Theories of Distinction: Magnificence and Signaling 67

Chapter Four: Selecting and Magnifying Information: Signposting and Stretching 85


Chapter Five: Private Chapels in Florence: A Paradise for Signalers by Jonathan K. Nelson and Richard J. Zeckhauser 113

Chapter Six: Commissioning Familial Remembrance in Fourteenth-Century Florence: Signaling Alberti Patronage at the Church of Santa Croce by Thomas J. Loughman 133

Chapter Seven: Signs of Success: Leone Leoni's Signposting in Sixteenth-Century Milan by Kelley Helmstutler Di Dio 149

Chapter Eight: Mantegna's Madonna della Vittoria and the Rewriting of Gonzaga History by Molly Bourne 166

Chapter Nine: Image Is Everything: Visual Art as Self-Advertising (Europe and America) by Larry Silver 185

Contributors 225

Index 227

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