Wouwerman, 18th century Art market, link between market and taste
Philips Wouwerman was born in Haarlem in 1618. He was the eldest son of the painter Paul Joosten and Susanna van den Bogert. His two brothers, Pieter and Johannes Wouwerman, were also to become painters. Philips probably received his first painting lessons from his father. According to Cornelis de Bies1, he was next apprenticed to John Wynants and Frans Hals. He is subsequently reputed to have spent several weeks in 1638 or 1639 working in Hamburg in the studio of the german painter Evert Decker. In 1640 Wouwerman became a member of an art guild, in Haarlem and in 1646 he became the director of the Saint Luke guild. In view of the many southern elements in his landscapes it has frequently been suggested that Wouwerman travelled to France or Italy. However, there is no documentary evidence of his having left Haarlem for any length of time. He was a very prolific painters and when he died on 19 May 1668, he left more than six hundreds paintings and the same amount of drawings. He evidently attained a certain degree of prosperity, going by the relatively large sums of money each of his seven children inherited on his widow's death in 1670 and by the various houses he owned2.
Wouwerman was greatly inspired by Pieter Van Laer (1599-after 1642), known as il Bamboccio. The latter lived in Rome from 1626 to 1638, where he painted scenes of everyday life and genre painting called « bambochades »3.
Wouwerman's oeuvre consists mainly of small cabinet pieces with horses, such as battle and hunting scenes, army camps and interiors of stables. He also painted sensitively executed silvery-grey landscapes, genre pieces and a few original representations of religious and mythological scenes. Wouwerman was exceptionally prolific. Although he only lived to the age of 48, more than a thousand paintings bear his name. His pupils include Nicolaes Ficke, Jacob Warnars, Emanuel Murant and his brothers Pieter (1623-1682) and Jan Wouwerman (1629-1666). He had many followers and his paintings were much sought after in the 18th and early 19th centuries, especially in France4.
The French market for Wouwerman painting is much more important than in England. How can it be explained?
[...] It had been sold many times and had belonged to the most important collectors of this century. The horse fair was fist acquired by Countess Verrue and sold during her the great sale 1735 in Paris, to the Comte of Clermont. Then, it was sold in 1737 to Jean- Louis Gaignat who sold it in 1762 to Marechal of Noailles. George Robit was the next owner and he sold in 1801 to Seguin for 16,150 Frs. The Duke of Berry, Charles Ferdinand purchase the painting before he gave it to his daughter MariaCarolina, by legacy. [...]
[...] She created salon and artist society in where she debated about art and taste. She was a collector and patron of the art, especially for the Flemish art, first collected by her in France. She exhibited a large art and book collection in her hotel, built in 1719. The Countess Verrue had sixteen great paintings of Wouwerman (hunting scene, battle but few landscapes)22. These paintings were sold between 1769 and 1827 and they reach incredibly high prices. The most expansive were Depart pour la chasse sold Livres in 1780 and L'abreuvoir consider as a master piece, sold Frs in 1827. [...]
[...] In France In France, the taste for Wouwerman can be understood thanks to the Flemish art infatuation. The Comte of Caylus wrote that the taste had “almost banished the Italian pictures from our cabinets, where we only display today Flemish pictures”. Indeed, by the middle of the century, the veneration traditionally accorded to Italian old master was no longer in step with the realities of the marketplace. First of all, Italian painting represented the greater achievement within the academic tradition and there was in the 18th century a kind of renunciation to the academic taste dictatorship Ibid. [...]
[...] Art dealers The profession of art dealers in the 18th century has an important role in the development of Flemish paintings in France and England. There was a professionalization and a specialization of dealers and they had to be both connoisseur and effective sale man. In England in particular, there was a small number of pictures in the territory because they relied on foreign stock. Because the majority of rich and potentially artistically minded English men were not able to go to find paintings, they expected dealers will bring it to them. [...]
[...] Indeed, people had to pay from around 1500 Livres to for the most expansive work. Wouwerman was one of the most expansive artists sold in the Flemish market in France. Some comparison had been done between Wouwerman and others painters of the same school. For instance, The Horse fair was bought Livres while a portrait by Van Dyck had only reached Livres. In like manner, the painting Stag Hunt was sold Livres while a Rembrandt landscape had been recorded at Livres. [...]
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