Darius Spieth, professor of art history at the LSU School of Art, has recently published the book Revolutionary Paris and the Market for Netherlandish Art (Brill), Studies in the History of Collecting & Art Markets Volume 3. The foreword is by Marc Fumaroli, Académie française. The book restores attention to the aesthetic, intellectual, and economic link between two key periods in the history of art: the “Golden Age” of Dutch and Flemish painting and that of the French Revolution.
Seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish paintings were aesthetic, intellectual, and economic touchstones in the Parisian art world of the Revolutionary era, but their importance within this framework, while frequently acknowledged, never attracted much subsequent attention. Revolutionary Paris and the Market for Netherlandish Art reveals the dominance of “Golden Age” pictures in the artistic discourse and sales transactions before, during, and after the French Revolution.
“This book is about the disastrous private lives of artworks during and after the French Revolution – and those of some of their owners,” Spieth said.
Spieth studied sales transactions during the time period to reveal interesting findings. A broadly based statistical investigation, undertaken as part of this study, shows that the upheaval reduced prices for Netherlandish paintings by about 55% compared to the Old Regime, and that it took until after the July Revolution of 1830 for art prices to return where they stood before 1789.
Written for both scholars and an interested general audience, Revolutionary Paris and the Market for Netherlandish Art is a book that shows how art, taste, economics, and history are interlinked.
A specialist in modernism, Spieth focuses his scholarship on the interrelationships between art, intellectual history, and economics. Spieth is the editor of the Grove Guide to Art Markets and Collecting (expected 2018), and the author of Napoleon’s Sorcerers: The Sophisians (2007).