SAMPLES OF ARTISTS' CONTRACTS
The following is a contract signed by the Florentine painter Domenico Ghirlandaio and the Prior of the Spedale degli Innocenti for a painting of the Adoration of the Magi:
Be it known and manifest to whoever sees or reads this document that, at the request of the reverend Messer Francesco di Giovanni Tesori, presently Prior of the Spedale degli Innocenti at Florence, and of Domenico di Tomaso di Curado [Ghirlandaio], painter, I, Fra Bernardo di Francesco of Florence, Jesuate Brother, have drawn up this document with my own hand as agreement, contract, and commission for an altar panel to go in the church of the abovesaid Spedale degli Innocenti with the agreements and stipulations stated below, namely:
This day 23 October 1485 the said Francesco commits and entrusts to the said Domenico the painting of a panel which the said Francesco has had made and has provided; the which panel the said Domenico is to make good; and he is to color and paint the said panel all with his own hand in the manner shown in a drawing on paper with those figures and in that manner shown in it, in every particular according to what I, Fra Bernardo, think best; not departing from the manner and composition of the said drawing; and he must color the panel at his own expense with good colors and with powdered gold on such ornaments as demand it, with any other expense incurred on the same panel, and the blue must be ultramarine of the value of about four florins the ounce; and he must have made and delivered complete the said panel within thirty months from today; and he must receive as the price of the panel as here described (made at his, that is, the said Domenico's expense throughout) 115 florins if it seems to me, the abovesaid Fra Bernardo, that it is worth it; and I can go to whomever I think best for an opinion on its value and workmanship, and if it does not seem to me worth the price, he shall receive as much less as I, Fra Bernardo, think right; and he must within the terms of the agreement paint the predella of the said panel as I, Fra Bernardo, think right; and he shall receive payment as follows --the said Messer Francesco must give the abovesaid Domenico three large florins every month, starting from 1 November, 1485 and continuing after as is stated every month three large florins.
And if Domenico has not delivered the panel within the abovesaid period of time, he will be liable to a penalty of fifteen florins; and correspondingly if Messer Francesco does not keep to the abovesaid monthly payment he will be liable to a penalty of the whole amount, that is, once the panel is finished he will have to pay complete in full the balance of the sum due.
The following is a contract made in 1478 between the Sienese painter Matteo di Giovanni and the baker's guild of Siena:
Anno Domini 1478, November 30, Antonio da Spezia and Peter Paul of Germany, bakers, inhabitants of the city of Siena, in the street of maidens, administrators, as they affirm, elected and deputed for the purpose mentioned below by the Society of St. Barbara which meets in the church of San Domenico in Siena, for the purpose of renting the meeting room and for the work on the painting, in their own personal names ordered and commissioned Matteo di Giovanni, painter of Siena, here present, to make and paint with his own hand an altarpiece for the chapel of St. Barbara already mentioned, situated in the church of San Domenico, with such figures, height and width, and agreements, manners, and arrangements and length of time noted below, and described in the common language.
First, the said panel is to be as rich and as big, and as large in each dimension, as the panel that Jacopo di Mariano Borghesi had made, at the altar of the third of the new chapels on the right in San Domenico aforesaid, as one goes towards the high altar. With this addition, that the lunette above the said altarpiece must be at least one-quarter higher than the one the said Jacopo had made. Item, in the middle of the aforementioned panel the figure of St. Barbara is to be painted, sitting in a golden chair and dressed in a robe of crimson brocade. Item, in the said panel shall be painted the two angels flying, showing that they are holding the crown over the head of St. Barbara. Item, on side of St. Barbara, that is on the right, should be the figure of St. Catherine the German and on the left the figure of Mary Magdalene. Item, in the lunette of the said panel there should be and is to be represented the story of the three Magi, who come from three different roads, and at the end of the three roads these Magi meet together, and go to offer at the Nativity, with the understanding that the Nativity is to be represented with the Virgin Mary, and her Son, Joseph, the ox and the ass, the way it is customary to do this Nativity.... Item, to the measurements mentioned, at his own expense, and have it painted and adorned with fine gold, and with all the colors, richly, according to the judgment of every good master, like the one Jacopo Borghesi, and have it set on the altar at his own expense, in eight months from now, without any variance.
And all these things for the price of ninety florins, at four pounds the florin, in Sienese money, to be paid to the said master Matteo in this way and at these times, to wit, 25 florins at the present time, another 25 florins at Easter next, 20 florins on the Feast of the Holy Ghost next, and the balance to wit another 20 florins, at the end of the time, and when the said master has completed the painting in every degree of finish, and placed it on the said altar. Done at Siena, in the hall of the notaries' guild, in the presence of bakers of Germany, inhabitants of Siena, witnesses. After which, in the same place, Master John son of the late Frederick of Germany, embroiderer, and inhabitant of Siena, promised the said master Matteo to guarantee that the said clients paid the said sums.