The Art of Persuasion: Dealer Strategies in the Nineteenth-century Art Market



Various types of intermediaries perform a crucial function in the art market. They mediate between the creators of artworks and the buyers, and add value in multiple ways. For instance, gallerists and dealers promote new artists and facilitate the art trade in the secondary market. Even though it is acknowledged that art dealers have been instrumental in the development of the European art market since the seventeenth century, there are huge gaps in our understanding of their business models and how they operate as arbiters of taste - today or in the past.

 This seminar examines the strategies of some of the key dealers in the nineteenth century at a time when the art market became more complex and sophisticated, and decidedly more international with the inclusion of the United States as an emerging scene. This fascinating chapter in art market history therefore offers an opportunity to gain insight into dealer practices in an historical perspective. Drawing on a wealth of previously unexplored archival records, the speakers of this workshop will explore how some of the key middlemen such as Goupil, Knoedler and Christie were able to navigate the art world successfully, probe new markets and ultimately shape the demand for the visual arts.

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Filip Vermeylen (Ph.D. Columbia University 2002) is Professor of Global Art Markets at the Erasmus University Rotterdam in The Netherlands. He lectures and publishes on various aspects of the economics of art and culture. He is especially interested in the history and functioning of art markets since the Renaissance, the notion of quality in the visual arts, the role of intermediaries as arbiters of taste and emerging art markets such as India. More information on his scholarly work can be found on

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Paolo Serafini, art historian, teaches from 2009 at the Schools of Specialization in History of Art, Sapienza Università di Roma. He focused his studies on the panting of the XIX century ( Catalogue raisonnee of paintings and drawings by Luigi Nono, 2 voll., Allemandi 2006; Antonietta Brandeis, Allemandi 2010; Fellow Ermitage Italia 2011 Italian XIX century paintings in the storage of the Ermitage Museum) and on issues of art criticism and language (The representative: problems of terminology, Word & Image, vol. 26, n. 4, 2010; L’Arte da leggere. Critic and reviews on newspapers in Italy and Europe, Allemandi 2011).  Curator of the exhibitions and catalogues of Giacomo Favretto (Roma-Venezia 2010) and La Maison Goupil (Rovigo-Bordeaux 2013-2014), is Project researcher at the Getty Research Institute for the project “An Art Market for America: Dealers, Collectors, Philanthropy and the Formation of American Museums”.

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Kim Oosterlinck holds a M.Sc. in Management, a Master in Art History and Archaeology, and a Ph.D. in Economics and Management from the Université libre de Bruxelles. After a post-doctoral stay at Rutgers University, he became professor at the Université libre de Bruxelles.  

From September 2006 to February 2011 he was in charge of a Master in management of cultural institutions. In January 2011 he took over a chair in Finance. His main research interests are art market investments, sovereign bond valuation and financial history. Amongst other he has worked on the art markets in occupied Europe.

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