Bargaining over Beauty

The full title of my new paper with Clara Piano is “Bargaining over Beauty: The Economics of Contracts in Renaissance Art Markets.”

Here’s the abstract:

This paper argues that concerns over opportunism affected the content and structure of Renaissance art contracts. Building on insights from the economic analysis of contracts, we first show that opportunism threatened the relationship between buyer—the patron—and seller—the painter—in Renaissance Italy. We then test the effect of opportunism on the contracting process for paintings against a novel data set on the content and structure of ninety documents corresponding to as many commissions. Our results provide evidence that concerns over opportunism had a systematic effect on the trading parties’ choice of how much and what to include in the contract governing their exchange.

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