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Marketmakers: Art Collectors, Dealers, and Advisors in Nineteenth-Century Europe and America

Peter Paul Rubens, The Rainbow Landscape, c.1636
Peter Paul Rubens, The Rainbow Landscape, c.1636

The Wallace Collection, London and the Frick Collection, New York are organising a joint conference on the history of collections and collectors during the nineteenth century to take place over two sessions.

The first will be a two-day colloquium in London on 2 and 3 December, 2010, concentrating on European collecting, in particular in Britain, from c1800 to c1870; there will be a second conference in New York, 4-5 March 2011, focussing on the following decades and the United States.  They will continue the lines enquiry of the 2003 conference on “Auctions, agents and dealers: the mechanisms of the art market 1660-1830” into the immediately following periods. The aim of the two colloquia is to encourage and present new research, concentrating on the theoretical and practical approaches to the history of collecting, the art market and the possible interconnections between old and new world collecting patterns. More specifically, we wish to consider secondary markets: old masters, sculpture, works of art and the decorative arts, but not media that could not easily be displayed such as prints, drawings and books.

The early nineteenth century saw the dramatic rise in the European art markets with the flooding of works of art onto the market. Resulting changes have often been described and analysed. In comparison, the middle of the century has hitherto been a period that has been under-researched and yet it is a period that sees important transformations in the type of collector and how they collected.

The London conference will discuss these issues in four thematic sessions.

The first session takes stock of the position at the beginning of the nineteenth century and the establishment of canons of taste in Europe through the Grand Tour and traditional habits of collecting. It concentrates on the contribution made by Francis Haskell and the methodologies that have been developed for research into the history of collecting since his writings. We would invite case studies that explore the validity of Haskell’s model as formulated in Rediscoveries in Art.

The second session will discuss the growing importance of art historians, academic art history and the public art museum for European collecting in the decades after the Musée Napoleon. It would be of particular interest to examine the role of the National gallery in London for English collecting. Papers might consider the relationship between new academic paradigms and collecting.

The third session will cover a generation of major collectors in terms of their background, motives and sources; to explore whether there are new patterns evolving, within questions of taste, the types and scale of collections.

The aim of the fourth session is to explore ways by which collections were formed, considering both the roles of collector and dealer. We are interested in the history and business strategies of individual players in the art market as well as in the economic forces faced by dealers, collectors and advisors.

We hope to publish the papers of both conferences. The conference language will be English.

Further information about the New York sessions of this joint conference will be posted by the Center for the History of Collecting in America on The Frick Collection website (http://www.frick.org/center/index.htm) in early 2010.

The deadline for submission of proposals is 1 February, 2010. We would ask for a 500-word outline of your proposal for a twenty-five minute presentation, along with a CV and a list of publications. We will inform you of our decision by the end of the month.

We hope to be able to contribute to travel costs.

Please send your proposal to Christoph Vogtherr at christoph.vogtherr@wallacecollection.org

Posted by admin
9 September 2009

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