The Art Market, Collectors and Agents: Then and Now

The Art Market, Collectors and Agents: Then and Now, Institute of Historical Research, London, July 13, 2016

Studies of the art market have paid great attention to the rise of auctions and the subsequent opening of the art market. However, there was another, equally important part of the art market in the early modern period, namely the agent, who discovered, bought and sold works of art to many of the most important collectors of the day. Agents not only acted as advisors; they set up networks across Europe and even beyond to acquire works of art; they negotiated with sellers and acted as intermediaries for buyers. At a time when prices were negotiable, the agent was often the person who created the true value of a work of art.

The purpose of our July conference will be firstly to explore the role of agents in the early modern period and to see how they negotiated the burgeoning art market in Europe, developing the role into a more professional activity. Secondly, we hope to take the subject further and consider how the agent has gradually become the consultant/dealer in the modern art market. Thus the conference should allow for a fascinating juxtaposition of historic and contemporary practice. It should also offer a deeper understanding of the private and often hidden side of the market, one that is not represented through the study of auctions alone.

Papers are invited in the following areas of research

  • The business or practice of the agent
  • Agent networks
  • Negotiations for clients
  • Agents as arbiters of taste
  • The rise of the dealer vs the decline of the agent: is this a viable paradigm?
  • The developing importance of the consultant & their relations with collectors

The time frame is generous. We are interested in papers from the Renaissance (or before) to the modern day.

Posted on Jul 1, 2015 in Calls for Papers



for Byzantine Arts and Culture

Founded in 2010 through a generous gift from the Jaharis Family Foundation, the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture is dedicated to the promotion and advancement of knowledge about the rich heritage of Byzantine art and culture.

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