Jessica Stevenson Stewart

Closed (1) Global Art Markets in the Netherlands (15th-18th centuries)

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

The rise of an international art market in the Netherlands was inextricably bound to the colonial system--to its economies, technologies, rhetorics and ideologies. During the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, the so-called Age of Discovery, Antwerp served as the emporium of the Habsburg empire, a global market city renown for its cosmopolitanism and entrepreneurship. In Antwerp, the rise of an open art market transformed the production and consumption of luxury crafts, especially painting. Artists re-imagined both their business models and products in response to the global traffic. Rather than relying on commissions from elite patrons, artists created work en spec that appealed to bourgeois consumers. Antwerp's art market is therefore associated with a number of historically significant phenomena, such as: the rise of new genres, the transformation of workshop practices, the emergence of art dealers, the expansion of global distribution networks, cultures of display that evolved alongside specialized retail spaces, and new forms of object-based sociability (e.g., connoisseurship and curiosity cabinets). However, during the Dutch Revolt, when Antwerp rebelled and subsequently fell to its Spanish overlords, many of the city's merchants, artists, and art dealers fled to Holland. By the seventeenth-century this mass migration created the conditions for the Dutch Golden Age. It established Amsterdam as the new art capital for a vast oversea empire, which trafficked in sugar, slaves, coffee, spices and other exotic commodities.

This project will support the production of two publications that are currently in-contract. The first is a state-of-the-field essay on the economic histories of Dutch art; the second is an encyclopedia entry on the global history of the Antwerp art market. The goal of both pieces is to reintegrate the proto-capitalistic developments of the art market within the broader contexts of Spanish and Portuguese colonialism and Dutch imperialism.

The undergraduate apprentices will work primarily on annotating sources, pulling and scanning sources from the library, and reading and summarizing comparative studies. The assistant may also help collect and compile information on artworks that may be used for illustration, that is, to prepare for requesting copyright permissions.

In the process, the student will develop a broad understanding of historical art markets and critical topics that have defined the field.

Qualifications: Strong critical thinking and writing skills; an interest in historical research. Ability to read Dutch, German, or French is desired but not required.

Weekly Hours: 3-5 hrs