The Emergence of the Antique and Curiosity Dealer in Britain 1815-1850: The Commodification of Historical Objects, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Emergence of the Antique and Curiosity Dealer in Britain 1815-1850

The Commodification of Historical Objects, 1st Edition

By Mark Westgarth

Routledge

216 pages | 36 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781409405795
pub: 2020-05-01
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Description

Rather than the customary focus on the activities of individual collectors, The Emergence of the Antique and Curiosity Dealer in Britain 1815-1850: The Commodification of Historical Objects illuminates the less-studied roles played by dealers in the nineteenth-century antique and curiosity markets.

Set against the recent ‘art market turn’ in scholarly literature, this volume examines the role, activities, agency and influence of antique and curiosity dealers as they emerged in the opening decades of the nineteenth century. This study begins at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, when dealers began their wholesale importations of historical objects; it closes during the 1850s, after which the trade became increasingly specialized, reflecting the rise of historical museums such as the South Kensington Museum (V&A). Focusing on the archive of the early-nineteenth-century London dealer John Coleman Isaac (c.1803-1887), as well as drawing on a wide range of other archival and contextual material, Mark Westgarth considers the emergence of the dealer in relation to a broad historical and cultural landscape. The emergence of the antique and curiosity dealer was part of the rapid economic, social, political and cultural change of early-nineteenth-century Britain, centered around ideas of antiquarianism, the commercialization of culture, and a distinctive and evolving interest in historical objects.

This book will be of interest to scholars in art history, histories of collecting, museum and heritage studies, and nineteenth century culture.

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION

PART ONE: The Spaces of the Discourse

Writing the art market, marginalia to mainstream

Writing the dealer, footnote to fulcrum

The Idea of the Dealer

PART TWO: The Emergence of Historical Consciousness

The Consumption of the Past

Specimens of Ancient Furniture: the emergence of the historical object

PART THREE: The Emergence of the Antique & Curiosity Dealer

John Coleman Isaac (c.1803-1887)

The Market for Antiques and Curiosities 1815-1850

Antique and Curiosity Dealing

PART FOUR: The Spaces of Consumption

The Antique & Curiosity Shop

Dealers and Auctions

Dealers and Exhibitions

EPILOGUE

About the Author

Mark Westgarth is Associate Professor in Art History & Museum Studies at the University of Leeds.

About the Series

The Histories of Material Culture and Collecting, 1700-1950

The Histories of Material Culture and Collecting provides a forum for the broad study of object acquisition and collecting practices in their global dimensions from 1700 to 1950. The series seeks to illuminate the intersections between material culture studies, art history, and the history of collecting. It takes as its starting point the idea that objects both contributed to the formation of knowledge in the past and likewise contribute to our understanding of the past today. The human relationship to objects has proven a rich field of scholarly inquiry, with much recent scholarship either anthropological or sociological rather than art historical in perspective. Underpinning this series is the idea that the physical nature of objects contributes substantially to their social meanings, and therefore that the visual, tactile, and sensual dimensions of objects are critical to their interpretation. This series therefore seeks to bridge anthropology and art history, sociology and aesthetics. It encompasses the following areas of concern: 1. Material culture in its broadest dimension, including the high arts of painting and sculpture, the decorative arts (furniture, ceramics, metalwork, etc.), and everyday objects of all kinds. 2. Collecting practices, be they institutionalized activities associated with museums, governmental authorities, and religious entities, or collecting done by individuals and social groups. 3. The role of objects in defining self, community, and difference in an increasingly international and globalized world, with cross-cultural exchange and travel the central modes of object transfer. 4. Objects as constitutive of historical narratives, be they devised by historical figures seeking to understand their past or in the form of modern scholarly narratives. The series publishes interdisciplinary and comparative research on objects that addresses one or more of these perspectives and includes monographs, thematic studies, and edited volumes of essays.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART000000
ART / General
ART015000
ART / History / General