In The “Bottega” – Art In Italy

By: Victor Sanchez

The word ‘bottega’ is born around the time of the renaissance and on, when many different works of art, that we now have come to appreciate in museums, were being ordered. The term refers to the place where artists could produce their works of art, whether they were painters, sculptors or carpenters, they all worked in the bottega. Its origins are a bit obscure, but people say that these office-like spaces started to establish themselves in the times of the Roman Empire.

They would usually have an expert artist that would manage the place and bring in young boys to work and in doing so, the boys would take on small tasks, slowly learning the different types of art. Interestingly enough, in some places of Europe, these places were called ‘universities’or, in places like Germany and England, they were called ‘guilds’. Although the difference between these names does not mean that artists would do different jobs, it’s very intriguing to see how these words were once used and where they come from. There were also different organizations called ‘colleges’that would have a group of bottega managers work for the rights of the artists.

It’s very interesting to see how these artistic groups and organizations contributed to the economic development of different cities and, most likely, also contributed to the formation and evolution of different political aspects of their nation. Another important element of the bottega is that it’s a place of education because all the artistic knowledge would pass down from the old artist managers to the new and younger ones preserving, in the process, the techniques that were developed since the times of the renaissance.

So how did the work space look? By examining different texts and drawings, art history experts say that these office spaces usually were in the first floor of the building. They also had big windows in the front to light up the inside of the place but these windows also worked to attract customers and so that the artists could expose the art to the passing customers. They also had open spaces inside the building so that the workers could have more light with which to work and the open spaces inside also worked as spaces for drying works like paintings and sculptures.

The ‘bottega’were established in many different cities, but some cities developed different techniques in which they excelled. Venice was really famous for their painters and their use and experimentation of interesting color choices. However, we can’t talk about Venetian art without mentioning the famous ‘gondola’that so many tourists visit today; those are truly major works of art. Florence was very popular with the architects, but being a very cosmopolitan city, Florence excelled in many different aspects of art including painting and sculpture. It was and it has always been a very versatile city. It’s very interesting to see works of art in museums and admire their beauty but it’s also very fascinating to see the role of artists and their effort and influence in things such as economic and political growth of a given place.

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