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Art Market and Connoisseurship

Art Market and Connoisseurship: A Closer Look at Paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Their Contemporaries

Anna Tummers
Koenraad Jonckheere
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    Art Market and Connoisseurship
    Book Description:

    The question whether or not seventeenthcentury painters such as Rembrandt and Rubens created the paintings which were later sold under their names, has caused many a heated debate. Much is still unknown about the ways in which paintings were produced, assessed, priced, and marketed. For example, did contemporary connoisseurs expect masters such as Rembrandt to paint their works entirely by their own hand? Who was credited with the ability to assess paintings? How did a painting's price relate to its quality? And how did connoisseurship change as the art market became increasingly complex? The contributors to this essential volume trace the evolution of connoisseurship in the booming art market of the seventeenth- and eighteenth centuries. Among them are the renowned Golden Age scholars Eric Jan Sluijter, Hans Van Miegroet and Neil De Marchi. It is not to be missed by anyone with an interest in the Old Masters and the early modern art market.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0237-0
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction Determining Value on the Art Market in the Golden Age: An Introduction
    (pp. 7-29)
    Eric Jan Sluijter

    An art historian who assesses the attributions of particular paintings in a scholarly publication knows that this will have consequences for the art market. The art historian in question, however, usually prefers to ignore this because he sees his work as a value-free analysis of certain qualities of the artwork in the service of constructing art historical categorisations. However, the owner of the work will have a different opinion. What a painting is valued at on the art market – especially paintings dating from the last five centuries – mainly depends on the fact whether or not it is considered an autograph...

  2. Chapter 1 ‘By His Hand’: The Paradox of Seventeenth-Century Connoisseurship
    (pp. 31-67)
    Anna Tummers

    The question of whether seventeenth-century painters and connoisseurs had a different understanding of authenticity than we do today, has been the cause of much debate. Several scholars have even wondered if present-day connoisseurship is anachronistic in its efforts to distinguish the hand of a seventeenth-century master from those of his assistants and pupils. For was it not common for a seventeenth-century master to collaborate with his assistants and to sell the various studio products under his own name?

    Nowadays connoisseurs tend to differentiate sharply between what is believed to be purely autograph work with paintings done in part or entirely...

  3. Chapter 2 Supply and Demand: Some Notes on the Economy of Seventeenth Century Connoisseurship
    (pp. 69-95)
    Koenraad Jonckheere

    A while ago, a large auction house contacted me about a sixteenth-century painting. They could not find the proper attribution. I suggested the name Huybrecht Beuckeleer, explaining that he was the son in law of Willem Key and the brother of Joachim. I could not be certain since little is known about this scion of the Beuckeleer family, and I therefore suggested that they should, at the very least, add a question mark after his name. The people at the auction house were appreciative of my suggestions, yet informed me that they were planning to call the painting ‘Circle of...

  4. Chapter 3 ‘Painters pencells move not without that musicke’: Prices of Southern Netherlandish Painted Altarpieces between 1585 and 1650
    (pp. 97-125)
    Natasja Peeters

    In an imaginary dialogue from 1538 written by the humanist Johannes Vives, we find Albrecht Dürer in a conversation with two imaginary learned men, Grynius and Velius.¹ They are talking about Dürer’s imaginary portrait of Scipio Africanus, which they want to see, either to buy it, or to criticise it, or possibly, to show off their knowledge, to the annoyance of the artist.

    Dürer: Go away from here, for you will buy nothing …

    Grynius: Nay, we wish to buy, only we wish you to leave the price to our judgement, and that you should state the limit of time...

  5. Chapter 4 The Painter versus the Connoisseur? The Best Judge of Pictures in Seventeenth-Century Theory and Practice
    (pp. 127-147)
    Anna Tummers

    One of the most intriguing types of pictures that emerged in the Netherlands during the Golden Age shows art lovers contemplating art in a collector’s cabinet or in an artist’s studio. For example, a painting by Jan Breughel the Elder and Hieronymus Franken depicts Archduke Albert and Archduchess Isabella together with a group of elegantly dressed men and women in a collector’s cabinet (fig. 1). Despite the verisimilitude of such scenes, many elements depicted were almost certainly fanciful. In this case, the grandeur of the architectural setting does not match the size of private residences at the time, and the...

  6. Chapter 5 The Rise of the Dealer-Auctioneer in Paris: Information and Transparency in a Market for Netherlandish Paintings
    (pp. 149-174)
    Neil De Marchi and Hans J. Van Miegroet

    Records indicate that specialist dealers have been operating as intermediaries in markets for paintings since at least the early sixteenth century. Throughout much of that long period, dealers served connoisseurs, who assumed, by virtue of their inherited status and wealth and the leisure and education both afforded, the role of arbiter in determining quality, and taste in the collecting of artworks.¹ During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, however, commercial wealth in the Low Countries, began to shift some of that role to specialist dealers; and, during the eighteenth century, in Paris, a new breed of dealer, whom we shall call...