International Art Merchants: Influencing the Production of Visual Art

NEW PALTZ — On Thursday, November 1, 2001 the Art History Association at SUNY New Paltz welcomes art historian Hans J. Van Miegroet of Duke University. Professor Miegroet will give a lecture titled “International Art Merchants: Trading Visual Culture from the Netherlands to France, Spain and the Americas.” The event begins at 7:00 PM in Lecture Center room 112. It is free and open to the public.

Utilizing 20th century technology to examine Early Modern artwork is Professor Van Miegroet’s trademark. He has used pigment analysis, ultraviolet research, radiology and infrared reflectography to reveal some startling findings that force art historians to rethink theories on the Early Modern period of European History.

Among Van Miegroet’s surprising findings was that art dealers were not just involved in mediating between workshop and buyer, but that they were disproportionately influencing many aspects of the actual creation of artwork. Many of these dealers were “vertically integrated,” inserting themselves actively in atelier procedures, to the point of controlling price, style, content, and size of large quantities of artwork.

Van Miegroet’s work overturns traditional assumptions about the trade of visual art. The central figure in the art world of the sixteenth, seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries was neither the famous artist, nor the leading atelier – the most influential force was the art merchant.

In coming to terms with the importance of art merchants, Van Miegroet has also reconceptualized notions of “original,” “copy,” and “copy-culture” in Early Modern Europe. This methodological focus grew out of the recurring discovery that, contrary to common assumption, original paintings were often not traded. They were kept out of the view of the buying public and used as prototypes to produce controlled numbers of copies. This type of appropriation took place in such diverse cities as Paris, Seville, and Mexico City.

Van Miegroet’s lecture will cover a variety of topics, including the economic, social, and political context of Early Modern European artwork with emphasis on pieces produced in the Netherlands and distributed to France, Spain and the Americas.

The Art History Association, a funded member of the Student Art Alliance, sponsors this lecture. Upcoming events are listed at

Hans J. Van Miegroet was trained at the Higher Institute for Art History and Archaeology of the University of Ghent (Belgium) and received his Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He focuses on economic, social, and political history of early Modern European art, with emphasis on Burgundy, France, the Netherlands, and Germany. His publications include books on Konrad Witz and Gerard David, and he co-authored studies on Economics of the Arts and Markets and Novelty. He was awarded the Trinity College Distinguished Teaching Award (1991).

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