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The Market for Paintings in XVII Century Italy


  • Federico Etro

    () (Department of Economics, University Of Venice C� Foscari)

  • Laura Pagani

    () (Department of Economics, University Of Milan, Bicocca)


We study the XVII century market for figurative paintings in Italy, analyzing original contracts between patrons and artists: this is one of the first manufacturing markets for which econometric evidence of the basic laws of economics can be found. Size of paintings, expected quality, type of commissions and aggregate shocks affect prices as expected. We find evidence of contractual solutions to moral hazard problems in the patron-artist relation: since quality was not negotiable, prices were made conditional on correlated variables such as the number of figures depicted. We find evidence of price equalization between high and low demand destinations due to endogenous mobility of the painters (or the paintings). We also provide support for the Galenson hypothesis of a positive relation between age of experimental artists and quality as priced by the market.

Suggested Citation

  • Federico Etro & Laura Pagani, 2011. "The Market for Paintings in XVII Century Italy," Working Papers 2011_22, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
  • Handle: RePEc:ven:wpaper:2011_22

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    More about this item


    Art market; Moral hazard; Endogenous market structures; Galenson hypothesis;

    JEL classification:

    • Z11 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economics of the Arts and Literature
    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design

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