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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

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 (...

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

Kevin D. Murphy

Domestic architecture in the USA comprises a wide variety of types—including detached single-family residences, row houses or town houses, apartment buildings, and more—as well as structures ranging from impermanent earth-fast dwellings of the seventeenth century to contemporary ‘McMansions’ measuring thousands of square feet in size. What makes housing important are the many ways in which it has deeply touched the lives of all Americans. Because of its diversity, the domestic architecture of the USA has been studied from a range of disciplinary perspectives, from the formal to the anthropological.

The earliest housing in America was built by native populations prior to the arrival of European settlers in the 17th century. While some was substantial, such as Pueblo Bonito (AD 910–1110) in Chaco Canyon, NM, other architecture, such as that constructed by many Native Americans in the Northeast, was transient.

While the subject of housing has sometimes been considered the purview of architectural historians, in fact, at any given historical moment, many (if not most) domestic buildings have not been designed by professional architects but by carpenters, builders, contractors, or home-owners. In the settlement period, the houses of most European Americans were earth-fast, small-scale, one-storey buildings, and were designed by their owners or builders. Given that the earliest housing in the USA was not built on stone foundations, it was perishable and little of it survives; it is known primarily through archaeological evidence. Research has shown that the earliest houses were typically constructed of locally available materials and that regional variations reflected the places of origin of the builders. For example, the 17th-century architecture of the Massachusetts Bay Colony reflected the knowledge on the part of its British settlers of existing traditions in Great Britain, although it was adapted to local circumstances. The Parson Capen House in Topsfield, MA (...

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 (...