Guido Guerzoni

Prices, values, and estimates of works of art in the early modern era

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This article provides an historical perspective on the relationship between art and economics by reviewing and discussing some recent literature on the history of the prices of symbolic goods in early modern Italy. Broadly speaking, the article shows that research into the transactions of artworks faced the thorny and unsolved questions of price formation, of prices' space-temporal variations, of their corresponding values, and of the coexistence of different economic rationalities. The article argues for the importance of identifying the context in which transactions and appraisal of value took place: if the importance of the context is underestimated, the analysis runs the risk to overestimate the price of certain goods or services, beyond the mark-up determined by specific circumstances.

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