Call for Essays | A Worldwide Market for Old Masters

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on December 1, 2016

The editors assure me they’re keen to have submissions from the 1790s and early nineteenth century! CH

A Worldwide Market for Old Masters between the Napoleonic Era and the Great Depression, edited by Susanna Avery-Quash and Barbara Pezzini (Oxford University Press).

Chapter proposals due by 1 February 2017

We are soliciting chapter abstracts for an edited collection with the provisional title A Worldwide Market for Old Masters between the Napoleonic Era and the Great Depression. The volume will be an edited collection of around 15 essays, each of 6000–7000 words (plus footnotes), with up to 5 illustrations. It is envisaged that the collection will be part of the Oxford University Press series on the History of Collecting, edited by Christina Anderson and Peter Stewart.

This project stems from a panel convened by Susanna Avery-Quash at the conference, Creating Markets: Collecting Art, which took place at Christie’s in July 2016, as part of Christie’s 250th anniversary celebrations. In the light of the positive feedback received at the conference, the editors have decided to broaden scope of the book to include historic studies about the Old Master market in Australia, Africa, and Australasia. Consequently, we are incorporating additional essays into the book, commissioning these through a call for papers. Authors who have already confirmed their participation are Julia Armstrong-Totten, Sarah Bakkali, Gail Feigenbaum, Christian Huemer, Agnès Penot, Veronique Powell, and Inge Reist.

As a result of the Napoleonic wars, vast numbers of Old Master paintings were released on to the market from public and private collections across mainland Europe. From the 1790s onwards, many ended up in London, which joined Paris as a leading centre of the art market. In the course of the 19th century the market for ‘old art’ expanded, in volume and geographically, witnessing a new worldwide distribution of Old Master paintings. This growth only diminished in the early 1930s, in the wake of the Great Depression.

The book aims to explore for the first time in a comprehensive way the worldwide movement of Old Master paintings by investigating some of the most significant agents, dealers, and commercial galleries who flourished during the period and their international networks. We are seeking for contributions that map analytically this expansion and explore the ways in which the pioneering practices of agents and dealers contributed to shape a changing market. We desire, in particular, contributions that make use of new archival resources.

In the light of new primary sources the essays in the book will address some aspects of the following questions: Why, when, and how did these dealers (or agents and galleries) come to specialise in selling Old Masters? What shaped their expertise and subsequent practice, and how did they operate and diversify? How did they make a name for themselves, and what, if anything, made them distinctive or innovative? What effect did they have on the art market and on patterns of collecting? How did the international trade contributed to the success (or demise) of their businesses? What was their relationship with established museums? How did they use other means—such as exhibitions, photographs, and advertisements—to promote their wares? Finally, what was their relationship with art historiography, art criticism, and with a changing art press?

We are seeking contributions from scholars of the Old Masters Market, 1800–1930 in its broadest sense, with a special interest in business history and/or attention to commercial international connections. The following topics are particularly desired:
• Germany, Italy, and other European countries
• Asian, African, and Australian countries
• Smaller dealers and alternative networks of circulation
• The firm of Duveen Brothers

Please send a 500-word abstract (excluding bibliography) with a title, a 150-word biography, and a short CV and contact info (for each author/co-author) to both Susanna.Avery-Quash@ng-london.org.uk and barbarartpezzini@gmail.com by 1 February 2017. Notification of decisions to follow by 1 March 2017.

Susanna Avery-Quash, Senior Research Curator in the History of Collecting, The National Gallery; and Barbara Pezzini, Editor and Index Editor, Visual Resources and The Burlington Magazine.

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