Friday, July 27, 2012


Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, who we are apt to call Raphael and to think of as one of the greatest artists in the history of Western Art, had a workshop of 50 people. That's right, 50 people. There were artisans and craftsmen, Giorgio Vasari tells us, who came and went and were more or less skilled.

We think of a single man, Raphael, toiling away all alone, but that is not the history. Raphael worked in a workshop with several people, just as he had worked as a child in his father's workshop. But Raphael's workshop was quite big. Unusally big, actually, and full of other practitioners.

I think about this when someone tells me that a winery is "too big" to produce "artisan" wine. Big is one thing, and low quality junk is another thing. But they aren't the same thing.

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