Art at Auction in 17th Century Amsterdam

By John Michael Montias | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Aggregate Statistics of Sales and the
Owners of Goods Sold

In this chapter I present aggregate statistics of Orphan Chamber sales by types of art objects sold (paintings, drawings, and others), divide the data between estate sales and voluntary sales, and compare a sample of estate sales with a sample of notarial inventories. Finally, I analyze the occupational distribution of the deceased owners of the estates from which movable goods were sold and of the individuals at whose request voluntary sales were held.

Altogether, in my sample of 524 Orphan Chamber sales, which probably comprises over 95 percent of the art objects auctioned off in the period 1597 to 1638 (at least in the sales whose results were consigned in the surviving Notebooks), over 13,000 lots were sold representing nearly 20,000 distinct objects.96 I have divided these sales results into two periods, 1597 to 1619 and 1620 to 1638, which show clearly marked differences.

The sample analyzed in table 4.1 covers 240 sales from 1597 to 1619 and 275 sales from 1620 to 1638 (it excludes nine very small sales included in the full sample). The art objects sold in both these periods are shown in this table.

In the first period (1597-1619), paintings predominated both as a percentage of all lots sold (77 percent) and even more of the total value of lots sold (92 percent). In the second, the importance of drawings and prints increased significantly. They amount-

Table 4.1
Distribution of Objects Sold (1597-1619 and 1620-1638)

-33-

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