Revolutionary Paris and the Market for Netherlandish Art


Seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish paintings were aesthetic, intellectual, and economic touchstones in the Parisian art world of the Revolutionary era, but their importance within this framework, while frequently acknowledged, never attracted much subsequent attention. Darius A. Spieth’s inquiry into Revolutionary Paris and the Market for Netherlandish Art reveals the dominance of “Golden Age” pictures in the artistic discourse and sales transactions before, during, and after the French Revolution. A broadly based statistical investigation, undertaken as part of this study, shows that the upheaval reduced prices for Netherlandish paintings by about 55% compared to the Old Regime, and that it took until after the July Revolution of 1830 for art prices to return where they stood before 1789.

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Darius A. Spieth, Ph.D. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaigna, is Professor of Art History at Louisiana State University. He is the editor of the Grove Guide to Art Markets and Collecting (expected 2017), and author of Napoleon’s Sorcerers: The Sophisians (2007).
"This is an important addition to the literature on the art market in Paris, covering a new area of the subject and linking the taste for Dutch and Flemish paintings of the eighteenth century to that of the later-nineteenth." Adriana Turpin, The Society for the History of Collecting, July 2018
Marc Fumaroli
List of Illustrations
A Note on Currencies

1 From Eyesores to Blue Chip Art
 Origins of the Parisian Marketplace for Netherlandish Painting
 Art Publications and the Dissemination of Information
 France as International Tastemaker for Golden Age Art After 1740
 Royal Collections and Northern Masters, 1777–1792
 The Twilight of the Auction Business, 1775–1825
 The Fate of Golden Age Art Under Terror and Inflation
 The Louvre and the “Artistic Conquests” in Belgium and the Netherlands
 The Post-Revolutionary Market for Netherlandish Art
 The Expanding Mass Market for Copies and the Rise of the Bourgeoisie
 Golden Age Art and Popular Culture
 Netherlandish versus Italian Art
 The Parisian Apartment – a Bourgeois Space for Art

2 On the Art of Surviving the Revolution: Jean-Baptiste Pierre Lebrun
 Art Dealer to the Ancien Régime’s Elite, 1776–1789
 Painful Adjustments, 1789–1795
 Co-Conspirator of Jacques-Louis David, 1792–1794
 From The Ministry of Finance to the Louvre, 1794–1799
 A Long Good-Bye from the Louvre, 1799–1803
 A Difficult Comeback as Dealer-Expert, 1801–1804
 Deceptions of the Napoleonic Age, 1807–1813

3 A Long Good Bye to the Palais Royal: The Northern Pictures in the Orléans Collection
 The Art Collections in the Palais Royal until 1780
 Inside the Art Deal of the Century
 The Netherlandish Pictures of the Palais Royal Collection
 A Look Inside the Galeries De Bois

4 Liberty’s Toll on Beauty’s Price
 Myths and Realities of the Parisian Auction Market in the 1790s
 Turnover of the Parisian Art Auction Market and its Economic Context, ca. 1775–1850
 The Evolution of Prices for Netherlandish Art in Revolutionary Paris
 Bidding Wars: The Picture Trade with Great Britain
 The “Guilty Industry” and Netherlandish Art

5 Netherlandish Art in France: A History of Taste and Money across Three Centuries
 Poussinists versus Rubenists
 The Marquis D’argens and Academic Prejudices Against Northern Art
 The Re-Evaluation of Netherlandish Aesthetics from David to Thoré
 The Politicization of Nehterlandish Art in the Nineteenth Century
 Class, Taste, and the First Art Price Rankings

Photograph Credits
Written for both scholars and an interested general audience, Revolutionary Paris and the Market for Netherlandish Art is a book that shows how art, taste, economics, and history are interlinked.