This excerpt comes from guild ordinances set forth in Mexico in the 16th century. The document sheds light on the ways that guilds, or organizations of artisan groups, controlled artistic production in urban centers like Mexico City (as well as in Lima, Puebla, and Potosí). Clear here are the guild's desires to regulate artisan production. Beyond this, however, guilds also played a profound social role in urban life; guild members belonged to a single cofradía, or religious sodality, which also functioned as a mutual aid society for its members, supporting them through illnesses and at death.
Visual Culture
Guilds, like the one for sculptors and carvers, set and maintained the artistic and technical standards for their members. Although the stylistic and technical expectations are not spelled out here, elected overseers no doubt shared a rough set of standards that guided their criteria for the successful applicant. Since public commissions were only given to guild members, and shop owners had to be guild members, the artistic standards of the guilds had enormous influence over artistic production as a whole. This document thus suggests how guilds sought to insure local standards for creative work and to constrain competition.

See a wooden sculpture of Saint Francis in the Vistas Gallery.

Library > 16th Century    > 17th Century    > 18th Century