Demand for Artists Work in Vilnius in the Second Half of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Summary)

Lina Balaišytė (PDF)

The article links the problem of the demand for artist work in Vilnius with the extent of the commissions given to artists by city residents and municipal institutions. The nature of these commissions was determined by the political, social and cultural processes that were taking place in the city and the country as a whole. Several times ravaged by wars and fires, the city of Vilnius was rebuilt mainly owing to the economic potential of the Church and the nobility. In the second half of the eighteenth century, after Vilnius ceased to be the King’s residence, local nobles, the Pac and the Sapieha families, became the main patrons of art in the city. The commissions from the municipal authorities, mostly for representative purposes, were not numerous. Impoverished by successive wars and unrest, Vilnius’ inhabitants likewise played a minor role in art patronage. They mostly commissioned religious pictures and portraits. Vilnius artists received commissions to work in churches and palaces in other towns and country manors. The statistical data demonstrate that, compared to other artists, the painters were the most numerous group in the city. The high demand for painters was determined by the fact that they engaged in a wide range of activities. The painters could carry out gilding, decorating and glueing works. In addition to the painters, the carvers also made up a large group. The demand for carving was mainly related to the decoration of church interiors, where wood carving played a significant role during the whole Baroque period. The number of modellers working in Vilnius increased significantly in the eighteenth century when stucco decoration became more widespread. Some masters, especially those not members of any guild, were active in several professions, such as modelling, carving and architecture. In Vilnius, only a few engravers are known to have been constantly engaged in creating engravings. Engraver services were in little demand in Vilnius publishing houses, and commissions for portrait engravings were rare.
Keywords: commissions, patrons, painters, carvers, engravers