A Portrait of the Market as a Seismograph. Dutch Masters on the Art Market
(Everhard Korthals Altes) The Low Countries - 2018, № 26, pp. 48-59
Caravaggio and Vermeer are among today’s most popular Old Masters. They enjoy some kind of star status and any exhibition of their work is guaranteed to be a blockbuster. But what is so singular is that their paintings have not always been so well-regarded. In fact, for a long time they were little known or little loved.
What do the prices that were paid for artists’ work on the art market in the past tell us about changes in the appreciation of their work? How much is paid for a painting depends on a great many factors. It is not only the artist’s reputation that counts, but also the authenticity of the work (did the artist create the work of art entirely with his own hands?), the method of execution, the subject, the format, the number of figures depicted, and the condition and provenance of the painting. And in addition there are all manner of economic factors that have an influence on the price of a work of art, such as supply and demand. Whether the work is sold by auction or privately also has an effect. In what follows, I shall take a closer look at this issue on the basis of a case study. I shall be concentrating primarily on seventeenth-century Dutch painting.
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