14. The Remuneration of Scagliolists at the Munich Court.

It is difficult to give meaningful values to currency in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, particularly in Germany with all its political and economic divisions.  Throughout the period the purchasing power of money and the relative costs of goods and services as a proportion of income were continually changing.  Imported silver from the Americas resulted in currency devaluation throughout Europe, and a series of bad harvests followed by the collapse of trade and agriculture during the Thirty Years War led to severe price fluctuations and rampant inflation.  Thanks to the Munich court records we know how much the Fistulators and their associates were paid, but the bare figures tell us little about their living standards.

The annual salary for court artists was sufficient to live on; it had to be, since they were not allowed to supplement their earnings by working elsewhere.  In addition to their basic salary, which also served as an exclusively binding retainer (wartgeld), they received payments for specific pieces of work, as well as occasional bonuses for excellence and some welfare payments.  Employment at court could also provide food, clothing and in some cases accommodation, and it gave a security of employment that the failing guild system was no longer able to provide.   Much depended on the ability of the ruler to pay his way, and when times were bad the court artists, low in the royal household’s pecking order, suffered.  No doubt there were other informal advantages of working for the court that compensated out-of-pocket employees – contacts with other artists, access to the great and the good, employment for family members etc., as well as the chance to work on the most prestigious projects of the day.

During the reign of Wilhelm V, the court finances were so depleted that few artists were paid their due.  When Maximilian I took over in 1597, the situation improved.  The new Duke was not renowned for his generosity, but at least the wages were paid on a regular basis: 

‘His meanness was a by-word in Europe; he had cut down the allowance of his old father because he considered it to be excessive for one who was no longer a ruling prince [perhaps understandably, given the financial situation Maximilian had inherited from the recklessly extravagant Wilhelm], and although he paid his servants regularly he paid them very little and ruled his household by respect and fear.’*

In the second half of the century, after Maximilian’s death, conditions at court deteriorated, and the scagliolists were constantly asking for more money, or for back-pay which was owing to them.  They were rarely successful, and Franciscus Fistulator and Andreas Römer both died in poverty.

The court’s reluctance or inability to pay its servants was due in part to the economic devastation caused by the Thirty Years War; but it also reflects the casual indifference with which absolute rulers viewed the needs of their in-house staff, particularly those – like Römer and Maria Theresia – who had fallen from favour.  Not only were they refused payment of the sums owing to them, they were also denied the possibility of working for other clients, a situation that forced them into debt.


Comparative wages for the Munich scagliolists
  

When Blasius Fistulator was taken on by the court in 1587, he was given an annual salary of 150 guilders.  This was increased to 200 guilders when he was re-employed by Maximilian in 1597.  In 1607 after the consecration of the Reiche Kapelle his salary increased to 300 guilders (in addition to a bonus of 200 guilders).  He received this amount in full until his death in 1622, despite being infirm towards the end of his life.

By way of comparison Friedrich Sustris, the court’s artistic director, was earning 200 guilders annually in 1583; he was lodged at court as a member of the royal household and had the right to dine at table.  At the time he was paid less than the German court architects, who received 300 guilders; but by 1594, with added responsibilities, Sustris was officially earning 600 guilders per annum, though payment under Duke Wilhelm was erratic.   His salary allowed him to bring his wife and family to Germany, and he was also able to buy a house and several acres of farmland outside the city walls.

From these figures it would seem that Blasius, while not operating at Sustris’ level, was at least comfortably established, and Duke Maximilian continued to pay him when he was no longer able to work.  It is not known what he received in the way of food and accommodation; there is a record of a maternity payment of six guilders paid to his wife in 1590 on the birth of Wilhelm.

Wilhelm Fistulator, after serving an apprenticeship with his father, was given a permanent position at court in 1612 (aged 22), with an annual salary of 200 guilders, raised to 300 guilders when he succeeded Blasius as head of the business in 1622.  It appears that 200 guilders had become the going rate for a scagliola craftsman, and 300 guilders for managing the business.  These figures evidently took no account of inflation.

The increase in Wilhelm’s salary to 450 guilders in 1631 reflects Maximilian’s satisfaction with the new pictorial scagliola and a desire to reward Wilhelm specially;  no doubt this uncharacteristic generosity was also intended to strengthen Wilhelm’s commitment to the Elector and his demands for exclusivity and secrecy.  No other scagliolist at the Munich Court ever earned this much, and Wilhelm’s enhanced salary enabled him to pay 765 guilders in 1636 for the purchase of a house in the fashionable Kreuzviertel district of Munich.

Throughout the remainder of his career he received various ad hoc payments: 6 Guilders in 1653 for a daughter’s wedding, 60 Guilders in 1654 for the completion of a scagliola landscape, an extra 73 Guilders per year in 1656 instead of his wine ration (perhaps a sign of financial – or health – problems).  He also received an extra 156 guilders a year during the periods when he was training his sons.

His wife Barbara, with whom he had six children, was also paid by the court.  She was employed as Marmoratin and paid two guilders a week plus beer and bread, which she received from 1624 until her death in 1674.  Her daughter, Maria Theresia, was employed on the same basis, but as we have seen, was never paid, except for a short period during the time when she was running the workshop.

Wilhelm’s assistant, Michael Pfäffl, received 96 guilders annually from 1638 until his death in 1658.  This is the lowest annual sum recorded, and implies that Pfäffl was employed as a labourer rather than a craftsman.

After working with his father for nine years on apprentice rates (2 guilders per week) in 1650 Franciscus Fistulator asked for a pay rise; the court responded by switching the 156 guilders that had been paid as lerngeld (money for training apprentices) from his father to him.  A year later he asked for a further increase to enable him to get married.   His salary went up to 300 guilders in 1651, but by 1654 he was back asking for more.  The cost of a family (he eventually had four children), and the need to set up his own house in the town had put him in debt, and he asked the court’s permission to do private work alongside his other duties.  This was denied and a loan arranged – though only half of the 300 guilders he requested.   In 1655 he received another pay rise of 50 guilders, but according to his wife, it was never paid.  In a settlement immediately after his death, the court agreed to pay burial costs of 50 guilders (which seems high), and another 100 guilders to pay off his debts.

Ferdinand Fistulator also struggled to get his salary above apprentice rates.  In 1659 he began his apprenticeship at the late age of eighteen; his older brother was ill, and there was a vacancy.  With his father’s health declining as well, he had to learn fast, and in 1661 he was already asking for a salary of 400 guilders on account of his skill at imitating stones.  This was refused, and he received 150 guilders, increased to 270 guilders the following year and 320 guilders in 1666.  This continued until his death in 1679.

Andreas Römer joined the scagliola family in 1666 through his marriage to Maria-Theresia, and was immediately awarded a salary of 300 guilders, despite the fact that he had no prior knowledge of scagliola.  This largess is probably explained by his popularity with the Electoress Henrietta Adelaide.  (Ferdinand, on a salary of 270 guilders, must have taken a dim view of the arrangement, and his rate was increased to 320 guilders later that year).  Römer received a pay rise of 50 guilders in 1670.  In 1676 his patroness the Electoress died (leaving him 85 guilders in her will), and in 1679 he succeeded Ferdinand Fistulator as head of the business.  There is no record of him receiving a further pay rise.  In 1680 the Elector Ferdinand Maria died, and from that time on Römer was answerable to Maximilian II Emmanuel and his architect Enrico Zucalli.  The correspondence shows that relations were bad between the scagliolist and the court, the latter becoming increasingly frustrated at the cost and length of time it was taking to repair the Stone Rooms. 

In 1689 a decree was issued that all artists would now be paid by the Office of Buildings (Generalbaudirectorium) as opposed to the royal household, and Römer was dismissed and went unpaid for the next four years.  It was at this time that the court also refused him permission to work on the substantial order for the Jesuit altars – at a cost of 1000 reichsthalers, about 1500 guilders.

He was re-instated in 1692 but his salary was reduced from 350 to 200 guilders, and the back pay owed from his time in Baden (495 guilders) went unpaid.  He was denied a workshop in the Residence, and had to hire one in town at a cost of 55 guilders yearly.  The court refused to reimburse him for this outlay, and even his expenses for materials were stopped.  In 1695 Langenbuecher took over as head of the scagliola repairs in the Stone Rooms.  Römer continued to receive his 200 guilders annually but was given no work.  When he died in 1706, Maria Theresia received 2 guilders towards his burial costs.

Römer’s replacement, Hans Langenbuecher, also had difficulties getting paid.  He was initially employed to work alongside Römer as a Marmorator in 1680, on a salary of 150 guilders.  He received additional payments for various commissions, but his basic rate never increased.  Between 1707 and 1714 he appears to have been unpaid, and when his name re-appeared in the court register in 1715, he was still receiving the same annual salary.  His son Benedikt succeeded him in 1719 on the same amount, receiving a bonus of 50 guilders for the re-installation work at Schleissheim in 1724-5.

Clearly both Blasius and Wilhelm Fistulator were well looked after by Maximilian I; he kept them constantly employed on new projects and valued their work highly, as the court correspondence shows.  They were both protected by the monopoly, which meant they faced no competition; and they were doubtless encouraged to experiment with new techniques and challenges, particularly in the case of Wilhelm’s pictorial panels.

The fact that Wilhelm was able to purchase a house and raise six children implies that money was good, even if his wife was required – or chose – to work too; and we should not forget that the most active part of his career ran simultaneously with the Thirty Years War, when there were chronic food shortages, disease and social and economic disintegration.  Here again, working within the court circle had advantages, not least of which was the chance to avoid suffering at the hands of marauding armies.  When Maximilian was forced to flee Munich during the Swedish invasion of Bavaria in 1632, Wilhelm Fistulator was included in the retinue that went to Salzburg.  He was also one of the first sent back to repair the damage to the Residence after King Gustavus had left.

There was a decline in the scagliolists’ living standards after the death of Maximilian.  They no longer held the same standing, the monopoly was being relaxed, and the court had no money to embark on expensive projects.  It seems also that the third generation of Fistulators was unable to produce work of the same quality as Blasius and Wilhelm.  Nominal wage rates – if not values – held up during the reign of Ferdinand Maria, but following his death in 1679, the debacle over the repairs to the Stone Rooms (which took twenty five years to complete) did significant damage to the scagliolists’ reputations and, to judge by the figures, their incomes.  Both Franciscus and Ferdinand died young, and Römer was hounded from court, replaced by Langenbuecher, the outsider who had been brought in to help him.

References:
Michaela Liebhardt, Die Münchener Scagliolaarbeiten des 17. Und 18. Jahrhunderts: Inaugural Dissertation zur Erlangung des  Doktorgrades de Philosophie an der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität zu München – Aus München 1987.
Susan Maxwell The Court Art of Friedrich Sustris Farnham 2011 p.46
*C. V. Wedgwood: The Thirty Years War, London 1944 pp. 62-3.

Next/ 

14. The Remuneration of Scagliolists at the Munich Court.

It is difficult to give meaningful values to currency in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, particularly in Germany with all its political and economic divisions.   Throughout the period the purchasing power of money and the relative costs of goods and services as a proportion of income were continually changing.  Imported silver from the Americas resulted in currency devaluation throughout Europe, and a series of bad harvests followed by the collapse of trade and agriculture during the Thirty Years War led to severe price fluctuations and rampant inflation.  Thanks to the Munich court records we know how much the Fistulators and their associates were paid, but the bare figures tell us little about their living standards.

The annual salary for court artists was sufficient to live on; it had to be, since they were not allowed to supplement their earnings by working elsewhere.  In addition to their basic salary, which also served as an exclusively binding retainer (wartgeld), they received payments for specific pieces of work, as well as occasional bonuses for excellence and some welfare payments.  Employment at court could also provide food, clothing and in some cases accommodation, and it gave a security of employment that the failing guild system was no longer able to provide.   Much depended on the ability of the ruler to pay his way, and when times were bad the court artists, low in the royal household’s pecking order, suffered.  No doubt there were other informal advantages of working for the court that compensated out-of-pocket employees – contacts with other artists, access to the great and the good, employment for family members etc., as well as the chance to work on the most prestigious projects of the day.

During the reign of Wilhelm V, the court finances were so depleted that few artists were paid their due.  When Maximilian I took over in 1597, the situation improved.  The new Duke was not renowned for his generosity, but at least the wages were paid on a regular basis:

‘His meanness was a by-word in Europe; he had cut down the allowance of his old father because he considered it to be excessive for one who was no longer a ruling prince [perhaps understandably, given the financial situation Maximilian had inherited from the recklessly extravagant Wilhelm], and although he paid his servants regularly he paid them very little and ruled his household by respect and fear.’

(C. V. Wedgwood: The Thirty Years War, London 1944 pp. 62-3).

 

In the second half of the century, after Maximilian’s death, conditions at court deteriorated, and the scagliolists were constantly asking for more money, or for back-pay which was owing to them.  They were rarely successful, and Franciscus Fistulator and Andreas Römer both died in poverty.

The court’s reluctance or inability to pay its servants was due in part to the economic devastation caused by the Thirty Years War; but it also reflects the casual indifference with which absolute rulers viewed the needs of their in-house staff, particularly those – like Römer and Maria Theresia – who had fallen from favour.  Not only were they refused payment of the sums owing to them, they were also denied the possibility of working for other clients, a situation that forced them into debt.

Comparative wages for the Munich scagliolists  

When Blasius Fistulator was taken on by the court in 1587, he was given an annual salary of 150 guilders.  This was increased to 200 guilders when he was re-employed by Maximilian in 1597.  In 1607 after the consecration of the Reiche Kapelle his salary increased to 300 guilders (in addition to a bonus of 200 guilders).  He received this amount in full until his death in 1622, despite being infirm towards the end of his life.

By way of comparison Friedrich Sustris, the court’s artistic director, was earning 200 guilders annually in 1583; he was lodged at court as a member of the royal household and had the right to dine at table.  At the time he was paid less than the German court architects, who received 300 guilders; but by 1594, with added responsibilities, Sustris was officially earning 600 guilders per annum, though payment under Duke Wilhelm was erratic.   His salary allowed him to bring his wife and family to Germany, and he was also able to buy a house and several acres of farmland outside the city walls.

From these figures it would seem that Blasius, while not operating at Sustris’ level, was at least comfortably established, and Duke Maximilian continued to pay him when he was no longer able to work.  It is not known what he received in the way of food and accommodation; there is a record of a maternity payment of six guilders paid to his wife in 1590 on the birth of Wilhelm.

Wilhelm Fistulator, after serving an apprenticeship with his father, was given a permanent position at court in 1612 (aged 22), with an annual salary of 200 guilders, raised to 300 guilders when he succeeded Blasius as head of the business in 1622.  It appears that 200 guilders had become the going rate for a scagliola craftsman, and 300 guilders for managing the business.  These figures evidently took no account of inflation.

The increase in Wilhelm’s salary to 450 guilders in 1631 reflects Maximilian’s satisfaction with the new pictorial scagliola and a desire to reward Wilhelm specially;  no doubt this uncharacteristic generosity was also intended to strengthen Wilhelm’s commitment to the Elector and his demands for exclusivity and secrecy.  No other scagliolist at the Munich Court ever earned this much, and Wilhelm’s enhanced salary enabled him to pay 765 guilders in 1636 for the purchase of a house in the fashionable Kreuzviertel district of Munich.

Throughout the remainder of his career he received various ad hoc payments: 6 Guilders in 1653 for a daughter’s wedding, 60 Guilders in 1654 for the completion of a scagliola landscape, an extra 73 Guilders per year in 1656 instead of his wine ration (perhaps a sign of financial – or health – problems).  He also received an extra 156 guilders a year during the periods when he was training his sons.

His wife Barbara, with whom he had six children, was also paid by the court.  She was employed as Marmoratin and paid two guilders a week plus beer and bread, which she received from 1624 until her death in 1674.  Her daughter, Maria Theresia, was employed on the same basis, but as we have seen, was never paid, except for a short period during the time when she was running the workshop.

Wilhelm’s assistant, Michael Pfäffl, received 96 guilders annually from 1638 until his death in 1658.  This is the lowest annual sum recorded, and implies that Pfäffl was employed as a labourer rather than a craftsman.

After working with his father for nine years on apprentice rates (2 guilders per week) in 1650 Franciscus Fistulator asked for a pay rise; the court responded by switching the 156 guilders that had been paid as lerngeld (money for training apprentices) from his father to him.  A year later he asked for a further increase to enable him to get married.   His salary went up to 300 guilders in 1651, but by 1654 he was back asking for more.  The cost of a family (he eventually had four children), and the need to set up his own house in the town had put him in debt, and he asked the court’s permission to do private work alongside his other duties.  This was denied and a loan arranged – though only half of the 300 guilders he requested.   In 1655 he received another pay rise of 50 guilders, but according to his wife, it was never paid.  In a settlement immediately after his death, the court agreed to pay burial costs of 50 guilders (which seems high), and another 100 guilders to pay off his debts.

Ferdinand Fistulator also struggled to get his salary above apprentice rates.  In 1659 he began his apprenticeship at the late age of eighteen; his older brother was ill, and there was a vacancy.  With his father’s health declining as well, he had to learn fast, and in 1661 he was already asking for a salary of 400 guilders on account of his skill at imitating stones.  This was refused, and he received 150 guilders, increased to 270 guilders the following year and 320 guilders in 1666.  This continued until his death in 1679.

Andreas Römer joined the scagliola family in 1666 through his marriage to Maria-Theresia, and was immediately awarded a salary of 300 guilders, despite the fact that he had no prior knowledge of scagliola.  This largess is probably explained by his popularity with the Electoress Henrietta Adelaide.  (Ferdinand, on a salary of 270 guilders, must have taken a dim view of the arrangement, and his rate was increased to 320 guilders later that year).  Römer received a pay rise of 50 guilders in 1670.  In 1676 his patroness the Electoress died (leaving him 85 guilders in her will), and in 1679 he succeeded Ferdinand Fistulator as head of the business.  There is no record of him receiving a further pay rise.  In 1680 the Elector Ferdinand Maria died, and from that time on Römer was answerable to Maximilian II Emmanuel and his architect Enrico Zucalli.  The correspondence shows that relations were bad between the scagliolist and the court, the latter becoming increasingly frustrated at the cost and length of time it was taking to repair the Stone Rooms. 

In 1689 a decree was issued that all artists would now be paid by the Office of Buildings (Generalbaudirectorium) as opposed to the royal household, and Römer was dismissed and went unpaid for the next four years.  It was at this time that the court also refused him permission to work on the substantial order for the Jesuit altars – at a cost of 1000 reichsthalers, about 1500 guilders.

He was re-instated in 1692 but his salary was reduced from 350 to 200 guilders, and the back pay owed from his time in Baden (495 guilders) went unpaid.  He was denied a workshop in the Residence, and had to hire one in town at a cost of 55 guilders yearly.  The court refused to reimburse him for this outlay, and even his expenses for materials were stopped.  In 1695 Langenbuecher took over as head of the scagliola repairs in the Stone Rooms.  Römer continued to receive his 200 guilders annually but was given no work.  When he died in 1706, Maria Theresia received 2 guilders towards his burial costs.

Römer’s replacement, Hans Langenbuecher, also had difficulties getting paid.  He was initially employed to work alongside Römer as a Marmorator in 1680, on a salary of 150 guilders.  He received additional payments for various commissions, but his basic rate never increased.  Between 1707 and 1714 he appears to have been unpaid, and when his name re-appeared in the court register in 1715, he was still receiving the same annual salary.  His son Benedikt succeeded him in 1719 on the same amount, receiving a bonus of 50 guilders for the re-installation work at Schleissheim in 1724-5.

Clearly both Blasius and Wilhelm Fistulator were well looked after by Maximilian I; he kept them constantly employed on new projects and valued their work highly, as the court correspondence shows.  They were both protected by the monopoly, which meant they faced no competition; and they were doubtless encouraged to experiment with new techniques and challenges, particularly in the case of Wilhelm’s pictorial panels.

The fact that Wilhelm was able to purchase a house and raise six children implies that money was good, even if his wife was required – or chose – to work too; and we should not forget that the most active part of his career ran simultaneously with the Thirty Years War, when there were chronic food shortages, disease and social and economic disintegration.  Here again, working within the court circle had advantages, not least of which was the chance to avoid suffering at the hands of marauding armies.  When Maximilian was forced to flee Munich during the Swedish invasion of Bavaria in 1632, Wilhelm Fistulator was included in the retinue that went to Salzburg.  He was also one of the first sent back to repair the damage to the Residence after King Gustavus had left.

There was a decline in the scagliolists’ living standards after the death of Maximilian.  They no longer held the same standing, the monopoly was being relaxed, and the court had no money to embark on expensive projects.  It seems also that the third generation of Fistulators was unable to produce work of the same quality as Blasius and Wilhelm.  Nominal wage rates – if not values – held up during the reign of Ferdinand Maria, but following his death in 1679, the debacle over the repairs to the Stone Rooms (which took twenty five years to complete) did significant damage to the scagliolists’ reputations and, to judge by the figures, their incomes.  Both Franciscus and Ferdinand died young, and Römer was hounded from court, replaced by Langenbuecher, the outsider who had been brought in to help him.


References:
Michaela Liebhardt, Die Münchener Scagliolaarbeiten des 17. Und 18. Jahrhunderts: Inaugural Dissertation zur Erlangung des  Doktorgrades de Philosophie an der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität zu München – Aus München 1987.
Susan Maxwell The Court Art of Friedrich Sustris Farnham 2011 p.46
*C. V. Wedgwood: The Thirty Years War, London 1944 pp. 62-3.

Next/