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Article

Molly K. Dorkin

[art consultant]

Paid adviser employed by collectors to recommend and facilitate the purchase of works of art. There is a long history of recruitment of art experts by wealthy patrons for advisery purposes. In the 18th century art historians such as Johann Joachim Winckelmann were actively advising leading collectors like Albani family §(2). In the early 20th century the English dealer Joseph Duveen earned a knighthood for his philanthropic efforts on behalf of British galleries. Enlisted by the so-called American Robber Barons for advice in forming collections, Duveen brokered the sale of many notable Old Masters from English aristocrats to American millionaires, including Henry Clay Frick, J. P. Morgan, Henry E. Huntington, and Andrew Mellon. Their collections ultimately formed the nuclei of many great American museums. Duveen’s contemporary Bernard Berenson was an American scholar and expert on Renaissance painting who turned his hand to art advising. Berenson assisted Isabella Stewart Gardner in forming her renowned collection of Renaissance art. His legacy as an academic is controversial thanks to his habit of accepting payment in exchange for favourable ...

Article

Molly K. Dorkin

Prior to the 20th century, the attribution of works of art was not governed by rigid regulations, and art dealers and auctioneers assigned attributions based purely on aesthetic grounds. Works were attributed to the artist whose manner they most closely resembled, but they were not further distinguished on the basis of quality; as a result, many paintings purchased as Renaissance masterpieces in the 18th or 19th century have since been downgraded to studio works or even much later pastiches.

Historically, the patrons who commissioned Old Masters placed a premium on subject-matter rather than originality, and popular narratives were requested by multiple patrons, creating conditions in which the demand for copies could flourish (see Copy). Popular compositions were often reproduced many times: by the master himself, an apprentice in his workshop, or even a later follower or imitator. A master trained his apprentices to approximate his manner as closely as possible, and sold the finished work under his own name. In some cases a master would paint the most important part of a work (such as the faces of the central figures) before delegating the rest to apprentices. Through the 19th century, pupils at prestigious institutions were taught by making copies of works by acknowledged masters. Many pieces, particularly drawings (which for much of their history were working tools, rather than art objects), were unsigned. Damaged or incomplete works of art were subjected to extensive restoration or reworking by later artists, a process that can cloud the question of attribution....

Article

Bonhams  

Molly K. Dorkin

[Jones and Bonham; Bonhams & Brooks; Bonhams & Butterfields; Bonhams & Goodman]

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 Christie’s and Phillips. In the 1820s Dodd and fellow print dealer Martin Colnaghi catalogued the print collection belonging to Horace Walpole prior to its sale. Dodd and Colnaghi also catalogued the 50,000 works in the collection of Francis Douce for their donation to the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. By the 1850s Jones’s son Henry and Bonham’s son George had taken over the business, which became known as Jones and Bonham. Paintings had been offered in their sales alongside print collections since the 1840s....

Article

Noël Annesley

[Christie, Manson & Woods]

Auction house founded in London by James Christie (1730–1803). After a few years spent in the navy, James Christie worked as an assistant to an auctioneer named Mr Annesley in Covent Garden, London. He left Annesley in 1763 to set up on his own and in 1766 established his firm at the print warehouse of Richard Dalton in Pall Mall, where the Royal Academy held its exhibitions in its early years. In 1770 he moved his premises next door to Schomberg House, Pall Mall, where Thomas Gainsborough lived. The first known catalogue is dated 5 December 1766; it includes little of value except for a picture by Aelbert Cuyp. Christie rapidly established himself as one of the foremost auctioneers, however, cultivating a circle of friends and advisers that included Gainsborough, Reynolds, Horace Walpole, David Garrick, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and Edmund Burke, and receiving many auction consignments from royalty and the nobility. During the French Revolution the firm did particularly well through the abundance of works then coming into Britain. Among the more notable early Christie sales were that of the former collection of Pope ...

Article

Stephen T. Clarke, Harley Preston and Lin Barton

English family of silversmiths, industrialists, collectors, and patrons, of French origin. The family originated from the town of St Pierre on the Ile d’Oléron off La Rochelle. They arrived in London a few years after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, and between 1708 and 1780 three generations of Courtauld silversmiths were registered at the Goldsmiths’ Company. Augustine Courtauld (c.1686–c. 1751) was apprenticed to Simon Pantin in 1701 and, after becoming a freeman of the Goldsmiths’ Company in 1708, he started a business as a plateworker in Church Court, off St Martin’s Lane in London. The majority of his work is of high quality, for example a silver tea-table (1742; St Petersburg, Hermitage) and the state salt of the Corporation of the City of London (1730; London, Mansion House). Augustine’s brother Pierre Courtauld (1690–1729) registered a mark in 1721...

Article

Molly K. Dorkin

The world’s oldest auction house, founded in Vienna in April 1707 by Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor (reg 1705–11). Originally called the Versatz- und Fragamt zu Wien (‘The Pawn and Query Bureau of Vienna’), the firm moved in 1777 to the site of an old monastery, the Dorotheerkloster, from which the name ‘Dorotheum’ is derived. By the end of the 19th century the premises were outdated, so Emperor Francis-Joseph I (reg 1848–1916) commissioned the architect Emil von Förster (1838–1909) to design a suitably grand building. This new structure, called the Palais Dorotheum, was completed and formally opened in 1901 by the Emperor, in whose honour the central hall was named. In the early years of the 20th century the Dorotheum introduced many innovations to their auctioneering process, such as the division of sales into categories by object type. The first unique categories, introduced in 1900, were art and numismatics....

Article

Molly Dorkin

Place where works of art are displayed. In a commercial gallery, works of art are displayed for the purposes of sale (for information on non-commercial art galleries see Display of art and Museum, §I). Historically, artworks were commissioned by patrons directly from an artist and produced in his workshop. In the Netherlands, the economic boom following the conclusion of the Eighty Years’ War with Spain (1648) led to rising demand for art. Patrons began buying from dealers, some of whom produced illustrated catalogues. Antwerp became the centre of the art world. Galleries for the display and viewing of art appeared in paintings by Teniers family, §2 and Bruegel family, §3, although these were private not commercial spaces, or imaginary constructions.

The Paris Salon, which had been organized by the Académie Royale de Peinture et Sculpture since 1667, was opened to the public for the first time in ...

Article

JoLynn Edwards

(b Paris, 1694; d Paris, March 24, 1750).

French marchand-mercier, picture dealer, publisher, and pioneer of the Parisian auction business. In 1718 his marriage to Marie-Louise Sirois (1698–1725), daughter of the master glazier, Pierre Sirois, brought him into the circle of Antoine Watteau’s intimate friends and determined the future course of his activities. His father-in-law frequently exhibited pictures and occasionally worked in association with the painter Antoine Dieu, a picture dealer, whose stock and business Gersaint had bought before his marriage. He took possession of Dieu’s shop, Au Grand Monarque, on the Petit Pont, on 15 April 1718, but it was destroyed by fire only a few days later. Gersaint rebounded to set up his business on the Pont Notre-Dame where he remained throughout his life. Sirois was also an early patron and friend of Watteau, who recorded his features in Sous un habit de Mezzetin (c. 1716–18; London, Wallace), and published ten prints after his work. Gersaint maintained this connection: after Watteau returned from London in ...

Article

Linda Whiteley

(b Cherbourg, March 2, 1766; d Paris, Jan 7, 1836).

French dealer, collector, museum official and painter. He studied under Charles Landon and Jean-Baptiste Regnault. In 1793 he began to deal in pictures and until 1812 spent part of his time travelling abroad (mainly in Italy) to increase his knowledge of art. In October 1816 he was appointed Commissaire-expert des Musées Royaux, a post he held until his death. Between 1810 and 1830 he assembled an eclectic collection, purchasing either privately or at sales, among them the posthumous sales (1826 and 1827) of Vivant Denon. His tastes in Italian art ranged from the work of Fra Angelico to that of the 17th-century Bolognese masters, and he also bought several works by such 17th-century French artists as Poussin (Life Spent in the Environs of Rome), Philippe de Champaigne (Assumption of the Virgin, 1660), Charles Le Brun and Eustache Le Sueur. He owned paintings by the 18th-century French artists ...

Article

(b Paris, Feb 16, 1748; d Paris, Aug 6, 1813).

French dealer, collector, writer, and painter. He was the son of a painter and picture dealer, Pierre Le Brun (c. 1703–1771), and great-nephew of Charles Le Brun. He studied painting with Jean-Baptiste Deshays, François Boucher, and Jean-Honoré Fragonard before becoming a leading connoisseur and art dealer. In 1776 he married the painter Louise-Elisabeth Vigée (see Vigée Le Brun [Vigée-Le Brun; Vigée-Lebrun], Elisabeth-Louise). He was curator of paintings to the King’s younger brother, Charles-Philippe de Bourbon, Comte d’Artois (later Charles X), and to Louis-Philippe-Joseph, Duc d’Orléans (1747–93), and subsequently acted as intermediary for foreign collectors, including Catherine the Great of Russia. His European art networks spanned England, Holland, Flanders, Italy, Spain, and Russia that he exploited to buy and sell art. In addition to his auction catalogues, Le Brun produced a series of erudite books and pamphlets and in some of his articles (1771–81...

Article

Molly K. Dorkin

[Messrs Phillips & Son; Phillips, Son & Neale; Phillips de Pury & Company]

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 1823 Phillips was commissioned to auction the collection at Fonthill Abbey, a sale originally offered to Christie’s. Instead, it was Phillips who conducted an epic 30-day sale of the contents of the house. Some 7200 people attended the pre-sale viewing. Phillips also presided over the only auction ever to be held in Buckingham Palace, in ...

Article

Two circulation models that constitute the art market: a primary market that structures the initial launch of an artist’s work and a secondary, or resale, market. Primary and secondary markets exist within the context of the Art market, in which works of art are exchanged for money or barter, allowing for creative value to be measured against other investment alternatives.

The art market emerged from the cultural and economic changes after the Reformation, especially in the northern Netherlands. When art became divorced from religious worship, the tradition of ecclesiastical patronage ceased. During this same period, there was an expansion of the Protestant mercantile class, who became the new art buyers. For the new bourgeois middle class, art served as a symbol of social achievement. Artists began to challenge their roles as mere craftsmen and demand that their creations be considered intellectual property. Founded in 1648, the Académie Royale de Peinture et Sculpture (...

Article

Harley Preston and Lin Barton

In 

Article

James Miller

revised by Molly Dorkin

Auction house founded in London by Samuel Baker (1713–78), a bookseller. His first recorded auction sale was of the library of Sir John Stanley on 11 March 1744 in the Great Room, over Exeter Exchange, in the Strand, London. While primarily selling books, from the start he included the fine arts. The business prospered, and Baker moved the firm to York Street, Covent Garden. His first sale there, in 1754, was of the library of the physician Dr Richard Mead, which was sold in two parts lasting 57 days and realized £5,508 10s. 11d. In 1767 Baker took George Leigh (1742–1816) into the firm, which then became Baker & Leigh. On Baker’s death in 1778, his nephew John Sotheby (1740–1807) inherited the business. The firm, renamed Leigh & Sotheby, continued to expand into other areas with the first of the seven sales of duplicate coins and books from the ...