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The Labor Market in the Seventeenth-Century Italian Art Sector

  • Federico Etro

    ()

  • Silvia Marchesi

    ()

  • Laura Pagani

    ()

We analyze the labor market for painters in Baroque Rome using unique panel data on primary sales of still lifes, portraits, genre paintings, landscapes and figurative paintings. In line with the traditional artistic hierarchy of genres, average price differentials between them were high. We identify supply and demand factors related to prices of paintings. The panel dimension of the dataset and its matched painter-patron nature allows us to evaluate the extent to which price heterogeneity is related to unobservable characteristics of painters and patrons. We find that most of the inter-genre price differential is explained by the variation in average artist heterogeneity across genres. This suggests that the market allocated artists between artistic genres to the point of equalizing the marginal return of each genre. We also explain residual price differences in terms of efficiency wage, signalling and incentive mechanisms to induce effort in the production of artistic quality.

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File URL: http://dipeco.economia.unimib.it/repec/pdf/mibwpaper215.pdf
File Function: First version, 2011
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Paper provided by University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 215.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2011
Date of revision: Nov 2011
Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:215
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  1. Mellow, Wesley, 1982. "Employer Size and Wages," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(3), pages 495-501, August.
  2. David W. Galenson & Bruce A. Weinberg, 2000. "Age and the Quality of Work: The Case of Modern American Painters," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 761-777, August.
  3. Etro, Federico & Pagani, Laura, 2012. "The Market for Paintings in Italy During the Seventeenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(02), pages 423-447, June.
  4. Weiss, Andrew W, 1980. "Job Queues and Layoffs in Labor Markets with Flexible Wages," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(3), pages 526-38, June.
  5. David W. Galenson & Bruce A. Weinberg, 2001. "Creating Modern Art: The Changing Careers of Painters in France from Impressionism to Cubism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1063-1071, September.
  6. Galenson, David W., 1982. "Artists and Artisans in Delft: A Socio-Economic Study of the Seventeenth Century. By John Michael Montias. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982. pp. xvi, 424. $36.50 cloth, $16.50 paper," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(04), pages 936-937, December.
  7. Goldin, Claudia D. & Bertrand, Marianne & Katz, Lawrence F., 2010. "Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Financial and Corporate Sectors," Scholarly Articles 8810041, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. David Galenson, 2009. "Old masters and young geniuses: The two life cycles of human creativity," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 0, pages 1-9, May.
  9. De Marchi, Neil, 1995. "The role of Dutch auctions and lotteries in shaping the art market(s) of 17th century Holland," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 203-221, October.
  10. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
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