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De gildebrief van Rudolf II voor de schilders van Praag van 27 april I595 en zijn implicaties rondom het begrip kunst

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image of Oud Holland - Journal for Art of the Low Countries

The privilege granted by Emperor Rudolf II to the painters' guild of Prague embodied not only a confirmation of the old privileges, but also comprised two passages seemingly elevating the status of the guild. First, the guild's coat of arms was to be embellished with precious stones in the crown and the female Moor crest figure replaced by Pallas Athena. And, second, it was stipulated that henceforth painting was to be referred to as an art rather than a craft. While the term 'artist' for painters and architects had been in use for some time, this emphatic formulation seemed to coincide with a tenacious pretension on the part of painters in general that painting ought to be ranked among the "liberal arts" (artes liberales). This conceit had potentially far-reaching consequences, namely that its practitioners would not be subject to guild regulations and thus exempt from membership. Although the new passage may have simply been meant to enhance the status of the guild members, it created unrest among the ranks. In particular the glaziers - with whom there had been friction previously - felt threatened by the new formulation, which might entail that the guild in the future would have to do without the substantial contributions from the painters. This concern engendered new disagreements, which eventually led to the suspension of the guild chairman Matyáš Hutsky who, however, was reinstated after a special agreement was reached between the painters and the glaziers. Those painters employed by the royal court continued to be excused from guild requirements, while membership remained mandatory for all other masters.


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