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Conditions Of Trade By Michael Baxandall

1318 words - 5 pages

In the article “Conditions of Trade,” 1 Michael Baxandall explains that fifteenth-century Italian art is a “deposit” resulting from the commercial interaction between the artist and the purchaser, who he refers to as a client. These works, as such, are “fossils of economic life,” as money, he states, plays an important role in the history of art. In contrast to our current perceptions of the relationship between the artist and art, “in which painters paint what they think best, and then look around for a buyer” the author examines how the content and form of these paintings were, determined by the customers. He states that the artists and clients were interconnected as specified in the legal agreements of subject matter, payment scheme and the quality and quantity of colours, through the conditions of the artist’s painting style. He not only looks at the explanation of the style of painting that reflected a society, but also engages in the visual skills and habits that develop out of daily life. The author examines the situations between the painter and client within the commercial, religious, perceptual, and social institutions, centrally focusing on markets, material visual practices, and the concept of the Renaissance period overlooking art as an institution. Baxandall observes Renaissance paintings also relate to the clients’ motives through such ways as possession, self-commemoration, civic consciousness, and self-advertisement. The author considers discussions of a wide variety of artistic painters, for instance, Filippo Lippi, Fra Angelico, Stefano di Giovanni, Sandro Botticelli, Luca Signorelli, and numerous others. He defines and exemplifies fifteenth century art through the concepts used by contemporary critics of the paintings, and with the basic equipment needed to understand the fifteenth century. Therefore, this introductory to the fifteenth- century Italian painting arises from behind the social relations. Through the institutional authorization, Baxandall looks at integration of social, cultural and visual evaluation in a way that shows not only the visual art in social construction, but also how it plays a major role in social orders, from interactions between individuals to larger social structural orders.

Furthermore, he considers secondary sources in interpreting and analyzing the different artists’ paintings. Baxandall examines the importance of contracts, where marketing negotiations are made between an artist and their client. This includes detailed aspects in the content of the painting, the quantity and quality of materials used in the painting and the cost for labor in making the piece. He argues that although a painting is convincing and strong, the painting could, however, be reduced to nothing more than a constructional argument between the buyer and the seller, by explaining the mechanics through which the Renaissance artists went about to develop their talent. A painting in Italy during that period resulted...

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