Philips Wouwerman, Taste and market in the 18th century
Résumé du mémoire
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?
Sommaire du mémoire
I. Political and economic background
II. Taste for Flemish art and Wouwerman
III. Art market of Wouwerman
Extraits du mémoire
[...] 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. [...]
[...] The main debate was about the evolution of taste and the reconsideration of the genre hierarchy. The ?amateur' and ?curieux' should buy art according to their own taste and not the one of erudite spokesmen9. The aesthetic of feeling can oppose to the strong rules of the Academy. Indeed, the taste for painting in ?grand gout' (portrait and historic paintings) had decreased and the interest for ?petite manière' (landscape, genre scene) became stronger. A new type of connoisseur was born, avid for petits tableaux des Flammands et des Hollandais' more than Italian and French great paintings10. [...]
[...] The propensity to collect Dutch and Flemish painting should also be explained by the fact that after 1674, England and Holland entered into a political alliance against French aggression, and this situation naturally encouraged the acquisition of Dutch painting by English travelers and diplomatic personnel stationed in Holland. The appearance of the English market of Flemish art is linked to three factors. The first one is the Dutch investment to finance the Public Debt; this could be possible thanks to the creation of the Bank of England what encouraged Dutch capital to be flow into London with a good rate. The second important factor was the tax-free politic developed by for European investment and the last one is market growth and economic prosperity (agriculture). [...]
[...] Moreover, France had known a financial upswing what brought a revival of the trade and an affirmation of bankers as a special social class7. This new class became stronger and stronger and began to compete with aristocracy. In the same time, the bourgeoisie had a strong desire to look alike the nobility, therefore, they began to develop they own taste, close to the one of the aristocracy but with its own originality. The development of a ?bourgeois' taste coincided with a new cult of intimacy and comfort. [...]
À propos de l'auteur
Pauline V.EtudianteHistoire de l'artPhilips Wouwerman, Taste and market in the 18th century