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Artists, Patrons, and Trust in Seventeenth-Century Naples: The Case of the Certosa di San Martino


The present article explores the theme of trust, as conceived by Paolo Mattia Doria, with reference to the professional relationships forged between artists and patrons at the Carthusian monastery in Naples, the Certosa di San Martino, during the seventeenth century. This specific case study is of particular relevance for several reasons. First, it falls within the chronological scope of Spanish viceregal rule observed by Doria. Second, the Carthusian monks at San Martino employed a large number of painters, sculptors, architects, embroiderers, and silversmiths in redecorating their monastery, and they kept careful records of their payments to these artists. The payments, conserved in the Archivio di Stato in Naples, provide a body of recorded transactions that can rarely be reconstructed in any other industry in the city during this period. Third, the amount of money spent by the Carthusians on refurbishing and redecorating their monastery assumes macro-economic proportions. The Carthusian monks paid the premier sculptor-architect in Naples, Cosimo Fanzago, a total of 57,000 ducats over the course of 33 years of work at San Martino, thereby producing an average of 1,900 ducats worth of architectural sculpture at the monastery per year.

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