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Accounting and art: the art commissions of the confraternities during the 15th and 16th centuries

Massimo Ciambotti (Department of Economics, Society, Politics, University of Urbino, Urbino, Italy)
Federica Palazzi (Department of Economics, Society, Politics, University of Urbino, Urbino, Italy)
Francesca Sgrò (Department of Economics, Society, Politics, University of Urbino, Urbino, Italy)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Article publication date: 3 June 2022

Issue publication date: 16 January 2023

53

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate the link between accounting, religion and art to understand the managerial approach of the Confraternity of Corpus Domini of Urbino and the phenomenon of art commissioning between 1465 and 1513.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is based on the interpretive historical method used to understand, through accounting, the managerial role of confraternities within the economic activity of art commissioning. To this purpose, the present analysis is based on a primary source, represented by the book of revenues and expenses, named B1 (1465–1513).

Findings

The analysis has provided evidence of the role of Urbino’s Confraternity in supporting art commissioning and its capacity to invest significant resources in favor of the social, religious and institutional environment of the time. Results show the connection between Urbino’s Confraternity and painters based on their commissioning agreements, the relation between painters and the Ducal Court and, finally, the role of the Duke of Urbino in funding the Confraternity’s initiatives for painters. Thus, this study highlights the major role played by Urbino’s Confraternity in art commissioning, an instrumental part of the Confraternity’s mission.

Originality/value

This paper presents a unique case study that brings out the managerial approach in art commissioning through accounting documents which make activities and links visible.

Keywords

Citation

Ciambotti, M., Palazzi, F. and Sgrò, F. (2023), "Accounting and art: the art commissions of the confraternities during the 15th and 16th centuries", Journal of Management History, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 110-133. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMH-12-2021-0072

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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