£100 for the course: £12 per lecture
Complimentary refreshments will be served before the lecture.
The talks will be fully illustrated using the most up-to-date digital equipment.
The talks last for an hour and there is an opportunity to ask questions afterwards.
Details of two outings will be offered to those ordering tickets for the lectures.
Art is Money: dealing, collecting and philanthropy
Power and money have always been closely allied to Art. As an unnecessary commodity, an object of desire, auction houses hope to achieve prices that no one can anticipate. When a painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci was placed on the auctioneer’s block in New York in November 2017, it was expected to match the price of Willem de Kooning’s $300,000,000 abstract masterpiece that had been sold fourteen months earlier. Instead the price was half as much again (£450,300,000). While auctioneering is by its nature a gamble, dealers can support and sustain artists through difficult times and create markets for their work where there was none before.
This course of twelve illustrated lectures examines the auctioneers that dispersed collections and dealers that helped build them. It also looks at some of the collectors, their motivations for collecting and their generosity in establishing museums for all to enjoy.
Christie’s and Sotheby’s: the rival auction business
James Christie was the charismatic founder of the auction house and Sotheby’s specialised in selling books and prints. After the appointment of Peter Wilson in 1956 Sotheby’s began to set the pace and adopt new marketing tactics.
A Growing Taste for Early Italian Art
Most eighteenth century visitors to Italy adored the High Renaissance and they regarded anything earlier as gauche and primitive. Slowly taste changed and the mystical beauty of gold-backed paintings was fully appreciated.
The Lansdowne collections: two generations of aristocratic collecting
William, 1st Marquess of Lansdowne, prime minister, builder and collector overreached himself and his eldest son sold his collection. The 3rd Marquess built a second collection which, in turn, was sold by his descendants.
Ernest Gambart: creating a market in Victorian England
Born in Belgium, Gambert encouraged contemporary artists to exhibit their work with him in many towns throughout England. The public paid admission to the exhibition and often bought a fine steel-engraving of the exhibited painting.
Joseph Duveen: the king of dealers
Duveen realised that Europe had the art and America had the money. he supplemented his own knowledge with attributions by the American art-historian Bernard Berenson and built the collections of Henry Frick, Henry Huntington and Andrew Mellon.
Paul Durand-Ruel: the inventor of Impressions
Amongst the first dealers to offer artists solo exhibitions and to support them during difficult times, Durand-Ruel showed Impressionist paintings in London and New York. He commented, ‘The American public does not laugh. It buys!’
Lady Lever Art Gallery: a memorial by an industrialist
Lord Leverhulme started marketing Sunlight soap with pictures that he had bought. He expanded his collection and built a museum in Port Sunlight, the model village he built for his workers, and named it after his deceased wife.
Philadelphia Museum of Art: building a stately museum
A magnificent museum built on Fairmont, a rock to the north-west of the city was finally opened in 1928. Collectors were generous and the museum now has one of the most comprehensive collections of European paintings in the United States.
National Gallery of Victoria: once the richest gallery in the world
After receiving a generous bequest form Alfred Fenton the Melbourne gallery’s purchasing power was greatly increased but it still had to overcome the difficulties of discovering what paintings were available in distant Europe.
Sir Hugh Lane: dealer, curator and amateur
Lane split his time between London and Dublin and funded his gifts of contemporary art by selling Old Masters. He died on the Lusitania and his bequests were contested for eighty years.
The Clarke Brothers: industrial heirs with a common interest
Heirs to the Singer sewing machine empire Robert and Stephen Clarke collected exceptional modern paintings. One brother established the Clarke Art Institute in Massachusetts and Stephen gave works to Yale and the Metropolitan Museum. The two brothers did not speak for forty years.
Norton Simon: creating a collection of beauty
Simon expanding his business empire from food manufacture with interests in Max Factor, Canada Dry and Avis car rental. Using his own judgement he made an exquisite collection of impressionist paintings, Old Masters and India sculpture.