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date: 20 October 2019

Auction house specialistlocked

  • Molly K. Dorkin


An expert with a specialization in a distinct category of fine or decorative arts or other collectables at an auction house, responsible for researching Attributions and setting pre-sale estimates. Specialized auctions of works of art were recorded in Amsterdam as early as 1608, when they emerged as a subcategory of after-death estate sales. It remains unclear whether or not items were appraised for value by dedicated appraisers, forerunners of modern-day auction house specialists, in order to set estimates prior to the sales.

The Auction as a sale process reached England from Holland in 1676, and the first auction of paintings in London took place in 1682. It was widely accepted that the paintings offered at auctions were luxury goods rather than masterpieces, and the ‘specialists’ in charge of sales bestowed attributions with a generous hand. By the end of the 17th century more educated and discerning specialists had begun to emerge, including Edward Davis and Parry Walton (...

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