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In antiquity, artists were known by name, but were considered little better than skilled laborers — in stark contrast to the public prestige afforded to their works. The same held true in the feudal period, when the value of religious artwork took on a transcendent role as the position of the artist took an proportionally inverse dive. By the time of the early Renaissance, the artists were “equals of the petite bourgeois craftsmen”1, although their growing economic independence from the system feudal courts and guilds, which once regulated and in some sense stabilized artistic production, resulted in extreme poverty for many working in the plastic arts.2

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