Art at Auction in 17th Century Amsterdam

By John Michael Montias | Go to book overview

Notes

1 This database, containing works of art recorded in over 1,000 Amsterdam auction sales and notarial inventories dated between 1597 and 1679, is available for consultation at the Frick Art Reference Library in New York.

2 On the auction of the property of the artist Jacobello del Fiore, held in Venice on 8 November 1439, see Creighton E. Gilbert, L’Arte del Quatrocento nelle testimonanze coeve, Florence and Vienna, 1988, pp. 52-3.

3 On the early development of auctions, see Alain Quemin, Les commissaires priseurs; la mutation d’une profession, Paris, 1997, pp. 21-25 and Krzystof Pomian, “L’art entre le musée et le marché” in Le commerce et l’art de la Renaissance à nos jours, Paris, 1992, pp. 18-20. In 146 B.C., according to Pliny the Elder, the Romans organized the sale at auction of booty captured in Greece (Quemin, op. cit., pp. 21-22).

4 Violet Barbour, Capitalism in Amsterdam in the 17th Century, Ann Arbor, reprint, 1963, p. 20. Barbour’s book, which was first published in 1950, remains the best introduction in English to Amsterdam’s economic history in the late 16th and 17th centuries.

5 For a theoretically informed view of the place held by auctions in the Dutch art market, see Neil DeMarchi, “The Role of Dutch Auctions and Lotteries in Shaping the Art Market (s) of 17th Century Holland”, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 28 (1995), pp. 203-221.

6 Barbour, op.cit., p. 17, Jan de Vries, European Urbanization 1500-1800, Cambridge, Mass., 1984, p. 271, and Oscar Gelderblom, Zuid-Nederlandse kooplieden en de opkomst van de Amsterdamse stapelmarkt, Hilversum, 2000, passim. Gelderblom’s book, which was published after the first draft of this book was completed, turned out to be a valuable source for the identification and the biography of many buyers at auction of South-Netherlandish origin.

7 On Holland’s information-intensive economy, see Clé Lesger, Handel in Amsterdam ten tijde van de Opstand. Kooplieden, commerciëlle expansie en veranderingen in de ruimtelijke economie van de Nederlanden ca. 1550- ca. 1630, 2002, pp. 209-249. The highly interdependent social strata and the porous social relations through which information could freely flow are brought out in Chapter 7 of the present book on “Clusters of Private Buyers.”

8 The only two exceptions that need to be noted are both associated with the extraordinary Van Uffelen sale of September 1639 where 1) Rembrandt made a sketch of one of the paintings sold (the portrait of Castiglione by Raphael) and noted the price brought by the painting and the total proceeds of the sale and 2) Joachim Sandrart noted that he had been underbidder at the sale and cited two paintings that he had bought. These observations are of course ethically neutral but they at least reflect the importance of the occurrence. I refer to this auction below, p. 16.

9 For an illustration of an 18th century auction in Amsterdam (1744), see S.A.C. Dudok van Heel, “Honderdvijftig advertenties van kunstverkopingen uit veertig jaargangen van de Amsterdamse Courant 1672-1711,” Jaarboek Amstelodamum 67 (1978), p. 155.

10 Some comparisons of this nature are made in chapter 7.

11 Isabella van Eeghen, “Het Amsterdamse Sint Lucasgilde in de 17de eeuw”, Jaarboek Amstelodamum, 61 (1969), p. 74.

12 Many scholars have made use of extant Orphan Chamber records, including Abraham Bredius,

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