Portrait of a Tailor by Moroni
FOR Moroni and a few others, we of today might not so fully appreciate the dignity and the substantial position of that middle class of the Renaissance which through its skill in the arts and crafts contributed to much to the accomplishment of what the nobles, patronizing them, are celebrated for. The tailor of that period of splendid costume is perhaps to be ranked with the craftsman artists of the Renaissance.
The craft guild movement of the middle ages was the prototype, though not the progenitor, of the craft unions of today. It was the expression of the natural interest of the skilled workers of each of the various crafts in establishing such standards of workmanship and compensation as were consistent with the importance and dignity of their crafts. In the northern European countries the rapid development of crafts into industries led to the formation of associations headed by such syndics as are the subject of Rembrandt's painting of that name; and, with the expansion of commerce, to such modern trade associations as, beyond the exploitation of the craftsman, are not concerned with him.
The slowness of Italy's industrial progress permitted the guilds to retain for a long period their true character; and their membership to continue in the enjoyment of their individual prerogatives and pride.