Painting under Pressure


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Fame, Reputation, and Demand in Renaissance Florence

Michelle O'Malley

View Inside Format: Cloth
Price: $65.00
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In late 15th-century Italy, there was a growing demand for goods of all types, including art. Painting under Pressure shows how the increased desire for art objects exerted significant pressure on highly sought-after painters. Michelle O'Malley analyzes the lives and works of four artists: Alessandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Filippino Lippi, and Pietro Perugino. She considers network systems, production practices, economic concepts, and workshop input to demonstrate the consequences of high demand on some of the most respected artists of the time.


In this fascinating and incisive book, O’Malley asks how painters approached the manufacture of large bodies of commissioned work, how they made day-to-day decisions about design and the application of pigments, and how serial production related to creating work for commissions, in addition to questions of economics. Using documentary evidence about price, scientific evidence about production, and formal analysis about appearance, the book demonstrates Renaissance business practices and shows the individual approaches artists took to producing excellence and meeting high demand.

Michelle O'Malley is reader in art history and head of the department of art history, University of Sussex, Brighton.

“This is an imaginative study of market pressures: of patronage, pricing and workshop economics in the 15th-century Florence, but also of the aesthetic demands placed on those painters thrust into the limelight and expected to fulfil large commissions with aplomb. Focusing on Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Perugino and Filippino Lippi, O’Malley’s book makes a meticulous investigation into the price of fame.”—Apollo Magazine

‘Michelle O’Malley’s important new book explores how the foremost Florentine painters deftly managed the production of excellent, negotiating a delicate balance between demand and quality.’—Nathaniel Silver, Burlington Magazine

ISBN: 9780300197976
Publication Date: January 14, 2014
265 pages, 6 1/2 x 9 1/2
25 color + 100 b/w illus.