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Bonhams  

Molly K. Dorkin

Auction house established in London 1793 by William Charles Bonham, a book dealer (also recorded as Walter Bonham), and George Jones, from a gallery founded by Thomas Dodd (1771–1850), a dealer in antiquarian prints. Bonhams originally specialized in sales of prints in the 18th and 19th centuries, at which time the market was robust. By the 19th century Bonhams was also holding sales of antiques, which were advertised in the London press alongside similar offerings from ...

Article

Diane Tepfer

American diplomat and collector. He was born into a prominent New England mercantile family of broad political and intellectual interests. Using the fortune garnered by his grandfather, a sea captain and merchant, he built on the collection, one of the first in the United States, begun by his father ...

Article

Patricia Johnston

Society founded in 1799 in Salem, MA, which organized one of the earliest museums in America and became a patron for commissioning art. Marine societies founded in port cities during the colonial and federal periods usually provided charitable assistance to indigent seamen or widows and orphans. The East India Marine Society (EIMS) had further ambitions. British colonial navigation laws had restricted legal American trade to the Atlantic basin; after the Revolution, opening global trade became a primary goal of American commerce. The EIMS recognized those Salem mariners who embarked on global trade, since membership was restricted to “Masters or Commanders of Vessels” or supercargoes (head traders) who rounded Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope to engage in Pacific or Asian trade....

Article

Carol Eaton Soltis

American private museum established in Philadelphia in 1786 by the artist Peale family, §1. Peale’s Museum, also known as the Philadelphia Museum, was introduced to the public on 7 July 1786 by its founder. Located adjacent to his home at Third and Lombard Streets, the museum showcased what Peale called the “Wonderful Works of Nature” in addition to his established collection of portraits of Revolutionary patriots. Peale’s skills as artisan and artist were key elements in the success of his ambitious enterprise to collect, preserve and then construct realistic interpretive displays of natural specimens and ethnographic artifacts to “delight and instruct” a broad public. Peale organized his collection largely through the widely accepted and readily intelligible classifications of the Swedish naturalist Carl von Linné (Carolus Linnaeus; ...

Article

Molly K. Dorkin

Auction house founded in London in 1796 by Harry Phillips (d 1840), formerly senior clerk to James Christie (1730–1803). Phillips’ inaugural sale of household furniture was held on 23 April 1796. The auctioneer soon distinguished himself by combining the skills he had learnt from observing Christie’s methods with a talent for ceremony and showmanship. Many of his innovations, such as holding lavish evening receptions for his clients and translating the business of sales into theatre, are widely employed by auction houses today. In his first year of business Phillips oversaw 12 auctions. He was soon charged with selling some of the most distinguished collections of the era, including those of Marie Antoinette, Stanisław II Poniatowski of Poland, and Napoleon Bonaparte. In ...