for the Eucharists Designs
The above questions resulted from all your comments on the Bozzetti to Tapestries article.
The report below will address all the above points and include many relevant photos.
Money in the 17th century Netherlands
The "fiorino d'oro" of the Republic of Florence was the first European gold coin struck in sufficient quantities to play a significant commercial role in Europe. It was first struck in 1252. It had 3.5 grams of nominally pure gold (0.1125 troy ounce).
The design of the original Florentine florins was the distinctive fleur-de-lis "flore" badge of the city on one side and on the other a standing, facing figure, of St. John the Baptist wearing a hair shirt. This "flore" coin was called a "florin" or a "golden florin".
As many Florentine banks were international super companies with branches across Europe, the florin quickly became the dominant trade coin of Western Europe for large scale transactions, replacing silver bars in multiples of the mark (a weight unit equal to eight troy ounces), or a pound sterling silver.
In the fourteenth century, a hundred and fifty European states and local coin issuing authorities made their own copies of the florin. However, on other countries' florins, first the inscriptions were changed (from "Florentia" around the fleur, and the name of the saint on the other side), then local heraldic devices were substituted for the fleur de lis. 2
In 1521 Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (in Latin Carolus) introduced the golden Carolus gulden (guilder) and in 1543 the silver Carolus gulden.
Therefore, the names used in literature for money in the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th century -florijn, florin, gulden, guilder, Carolus gulden or guilder, Car. guilder- are all the same unit.
The gulden and the FL sign have been in use until 2002, when the Netherlands, with most European countries, changed their currency to the Euro. €.
What did people earn?
A pastor earned 500 guilders per year. Rent free. I have an antique Dutch book and it describes the detailed living expenses of a pastor and his wife on a 500 guilders a year salary. They could not make ends meet. Voor Nederlands: lees de originele tekst onder linker plaatje.
Today, economists find it difficult to express a meaningful correlation factor of cost of living between two very different cities e.g. Miami, Oklahoma and Miami, Florida, let alone find a factor for correlating cost of living between two countries over some 400 years. However, research on inflation and CPI over the period of 1600 to 2000, -as well as rate of exchange and purchasing power- gives us a workable factor of 60. That means that for the rest of this report we'll use: 100 guilders in the 1600s equals US $6,000 in today's money. 11, 12, 13
With that factor, let's review again (now in English here) the pastor's annual living expenses, expressed in today's US dollars.
It shows that regular "burghers" paid over 50% of their income on food (no eating out at all). For clothing they paid a fortune. Therefore they just had one good suit, two coats, two skirts, two sets of underwear and two sets of bed linen. 5
One other aspect stands out: their drinking habits. The pastor and his wife drank two bottles of wine (26 fl.oz), plus 35 bottles of beer (12 fl.oz) every week. That must have been quite normal or otherwise he would not have spelled it out to his congregation.
What did painters earn?
Top artists like Rembrandt received 500 guilders per painting, but for The Nightwatch (look here) he received 1,800 guilders ($108,000), because the 18 civic guards portrayed paid him 100 guilders each.
But if a painter did not belong to the "crème de la crème", and with a mean value of 15 guilders ($900) for all paintings, it implies that a regular painter had to produce 1.5 paintings per week to reach an income of twice that of a master carpenter (after cost of materials and rent of a studio). Mixed in with this were apprentices, who copied their master's paintings. Two copies per week. Those copies were sold for 6 guilders a piece. But even with all those efforts many painters could not make a decent living.
At the end of the 17th century, the average number of paintings per household varied between:
Real estate prices (and rents) varied considerably, depending on location. Mortgage interest rates were only 2 - 3 %.
What did Rubens earn?
It was followed with a companion triptych, equally large and no less successful, the Descent from the Cross, in the Cathedral, for another big sum of 2,400 guilders ($144,000). 8
Also, from 1610 onwards Rubens earned a yearly salary of 3,000 guilders ($180,000 p.a.) when he became a court painter -with privileges- to the archdukes Albert and Isabella.
Before the expiry of the Twelve-Year Truce in 1621 Rubens executed more than 60 altar pieces, of which a third for the churches in Antwerp. Yet during this same time Rubens also produced many paintings of secular themes—mythological, historical, and allegorical subjects, hunting scenes, and portraits. The high demand of his work also pushed his prices up. He was so in demand that even with a studio full of assistants behind him, he could not accept all the commissions that came his way. His patrons and clients usually put up with workshop collaboration as long as Rubens' brand prevailed visually and artistically.
Letters in 1618 mention that Rubens was a fast worker. He could do a painting in 5 days.
In 1626 he sold his art collection (which he had built up over the years) of antique and Renaissance marbles, alabaster, bronze and ivory statues, gems and paintings by Leonardo, Raphael, Titian, Palma Vecchio, Tintoretto, Bassano, Veronese and his own to the Duke of Buckingham for 100,000 guilders ($6 million). 14
But Rubens had also countless expenses: his house, the household staff, assistants, collaborators, materials, decoration and the art work he purchased himself and his travels. 9
Rubens total assets at the time of his death in May 1640 were around 150,000 guilders ($9 million), without even counting his real estate. 9 For a detailed breakdown of the wealth of his estate, at the time of his death, read this report.
Therefore, let's look at his real estate:
Rubens' Home(s) and Family Life
They bought a home in the center of Antwerp. The property was located on a quiet canal street just off the main bustling commercial boulevard. Rubens purchased it for 10,000 guilders ($600,000).
It was a great deal to pay, but the lot came with a handsome house in the traditional Flemish style -see left- and an adjacent laundry house that, once demolished, would leave enough room for Rubens to build a new wing facing the street and, in addition, a pair of row houses to rent, plus a large back yard for formal gardens.
It was a good 5 years later before Rubens' family could actually move into their new home (they lived at Isabella's parents for that time), and more than a decade later before the artist was finally done tinkering and making alterations. 8p75 By that time he had spent a total of 24,000 guilders ($1.4 million). 9
After 16 years of marriage, Isabella died from the plague in 1626. Rubens was devastated. He got more and more involved in politics, but also tried to escape with his children to the countryside. In 1627, when he was 50 years old, Rubens bought a castle in Ekeren, north of Antwerp, and three years later he bought additional land there. Nothing has remained of the building or the surrounding land. The painting depicts a medieval castle in the midst of a park-like landscape. 16
In December 1630, when he was 53, Rubens married the 16-year-old Hélène Fourment, the youngest daughter of a silk and tapestry merchant in Antwerp.
She inspired him to paint some of his most splendid portraits, and her features can be recognized in countless nudes of the master's works (he loved to paint her as Venus) from the 1630s.
Five years later, at age 58, he bought another castle. A country estate, "Het Steen" in Elewijt, south of Antwerp, closer to Brussels. Rubens paid 93,000 guilders for it ($5.6 million). His beautiful townhouse in Antwerp seemed a 'minor' asset compared to his castle. Click pic on the left for slideshow of the estate.
Every summer they stayed a couple of months on the estate. Here Rubens finally perfected his landscape painting skills. He did some 40 paintings, which permeate with shimmering color and light. It would ensure Rubens' fame as a landscapist, if no other works survived. 17
How does one end a report like this?
The title of this report is Rubens' Remuneration. With all the emphasis on monetary importance. But Rubens was also a family man and was remunerated with loving wives and children, as well as having good friends.
References: read here
Disclaimer: read here
Willem van Osnabrugge