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date: 23 August 2019

Art market bubbles and crasheslocked

  • Iain Robertson

Extract

Art markets have opened and closed throughout history; there is evidence of a trade in seals, crafted in lapis lazuli in eastern Iran, along a route that included Mesopotamia, Syria, the Levantine, and Egyptian Thebes during the time of Tuthmosis III (regc. 1479–c. 1426 bc). Whether this trade was speculative (that is, without having been ordered by a single client or institution) is uncertain. In China, from the Song dynasty (960–1279), a market economy established the basis for an anonymous relationship between a buyer and a seller. This extended to the exchange works of art. There is anecdotal evidence in Cicero of a speculative art market in ancient Rome, although the distinction between an art dealer as opposed to an art procurer is not made clear (see also Collection and display of Classical art, §I, 2). The modern art market, with its auctions, art fairs, art dealers, and speculative production, begins in the Low Countries in the 17th century (...

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