New Article: M. Lincoln & A. Fox, Temporal Dimensions of the London Art Auctions, 1780-1835

M. Lincoln & A. Fox, Temporal Dimensions of the London Art Auctions, 1780-1835

Abstract (DOI)

Fig. 10 James Gillray, A Peep at Christie’s;—or—Tally-ho, & his Nimeney-pimmeney taking the Morning Lounge, published 24 Sept. 1796, etching and aquatint, hand coloured, 35 x 25.7 cm. Collection of the British Museum, London (1868,0808.6552)  Digital image courtesy of Trustees of the British Museum, London
Fig. 10 James Gillray, A Peep at Christie’s;—or—Tally-ho, & his Nimeney-pimmeney taking the Morning Lounge, published 24 Sept. 1796, etching and aquatint, hand coloured, 35 x 25.7 cm. Collection of the British Museum, London (1868,0808.6552) Digital image courtesy of Trustees of the British Museum, London

The rush of activity among London’s auction houses in the first few weeks of summer has long been a familiar occurrence that persists even today. However, this intense seasonal concentration of sales was not always so. This paper draws on quantitative methods to explore the gradual emergence of a tightly scheduled auction season in London at the turn of the nineteenth century, focusing on the sale of paintings.

By analysing historical art auction catalogue data, the paper traces the ways in which this shift varied across different segments of the auction market, as well as between individual auction houses. As our study shows, the temporal clustering of painting auctions had specific business advantages, but it also played a key role in enhancing the social import of these auctions, demarcating an annual, weeks-long “event” looked to with anticipation and excitement by auctioneers and buyers alike.

British Art Studies Issue 4 (accessed Nov 28, 2016)