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Guild
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When a group of artists or other tradesmen got together to form an organization in the Middle Ages, the group was called a guild. The guild was not necessarily made up of artists or tradesmen who held the same career; rather, varying careers were often represented in a single guild. Doctors and apothecaries belonged to the same guild as painters in Florence. The Florentine guild was called St. Luke, who was the patron saint of artists and physicians. All artists had to join a guild unless they were under direct orders of the ruler. Because of this, the guild records have been extremely helpful to students of art history.

Masters were the only ones who were allowed to start a business. In order to do so, they had to submit work to the guild for approval. After they received approval, they would hire journeymen who would be their assistants and students. As in today's unions, the guilds supervised work conditions, the number of apprentices, and materials used. The guild was also an agent in providing materials for the artists to use, such as panels, that had to sometimes be stamped with the guild's seal before they could be used.

As time went on, the guilds were replaced with the academies, whose main function was teaching. In northern Europe, however, the guilds lasted for a longer time than they did in Italy. In 1655 the guild at Malines tried to prevent Jan Cossiers from completing a commission that had been painted in Cossiers' studio in Antwerp, due to the fact that Cossiers was not a resident of Malines and should be prohibited from working in Malines. As late as the 1960's, the guild in Toronto, that was called the Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers of America tried to prevent the completion of a commission of murals by a designer and his assistants.

 
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