Painting for Profit: The Economic Lives of Seventeenth-Century Italian Painters by Richard Spear and Philip Sohm with contributions by  Renata Ago, Elena Fumagalli, Richard Goldthwaite, Christopher Marshall and Raffaella Morselli.

In this highly original book five leading art historians team up with two distinguished economic and social historians to investigate the financial worlds of painters in Baroque Italy. Exploring the many variables that determined the prices asked or received by painters—including the status of their patrons, the size of works and time spent making them, their subject matter, and their number of figures—the authors offer major insights into the social lives, psychological disposition, and economic circumstances of a wide range of major and minor artists.

Richard Spear is Professor Emeritus of Art History at Oberlin College and Affiliate Research Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. Philip Sohm is University Professor at the University of Toronto.

A Database of Prices Paid to Painters in Seventeenth-Century Rome

A new database that compliments this study is also due for release shortly. The database will include a range of data on the payments made to artists in seventeenth-century Rome. It si supported by the Getty Research Institute. Richard Spear states that the database will be more “flexible than any printed document, it will be searchable according to one’s research interests: from price stability versus inflation to comparisons of prices paid according to size, medium, type etc.” He goes on to add that “the database is being established with the information from my research on seventeenth-century Rome. It nonetheless is conceived as an open-ended, pilot project that can be easily corrected and significantly expanded to complement the Provenance Index Databases as other scholars provide data from all periods of Western painting. In principle, its potential as a resource for the study of art history, economics, and social history is unlimited.” The full article by Spear about the book and the database can be downloaded as a pdf – Spear Article.