This Element represents the first systematic study of the risks borne by those who produced, commissioned, and purchased art, across Renaissance Europe. It employs a new methodology, built around concepts from risk analysis and decision theory. The Element classifies scores of documented examples of losses into 'production risks', which arise from the conception of a work of art until its final placement, and 'reception risks', when a patron, a buyer, or viewer finds a work displeasing, inappropriate, or offensive. Significant risks must be tamed before players undertake transactions. The Element discusses risk-taming mechanisms operating society-wide: extensive communication flows, social capital, and trust, and the measures individual participants took to reduce the likelihood and consequences of losses. Those mechanisms were employed in both the patronage-based system and the modern open markets, which predominated respectively in Southern and Northern Europe.


Nelson, Jonathan K., and Richard J. Zeckhauser. Risks in Renaissance Art: Production, Purchase, and Reception. Cambridge University Press, 2024.