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The Amsterdam Center for the Study of the Golden Age organizes the international research conference 'Artistic and Economic Competition in the Amsterdam Art Market, c. 1630-1690: History Painting in Rembrandt’s Time'.

Detail Summary
Start date 9 December 2011
End date 10 December 2011
Time 08:30

Artistic and Economic Competition in the Amsterdam Art Market, c. 1630-1690: History Painting in Rem

The conference is organized into four sections dealing with topics that reflect the research and results of the project’s participants. In each session, two members of the project will give papers pertaining to specific aspects of their work.

In order to situate these papers into a broader scholarly context and to encourage discussion, the members of each session have invited two renowned scholars to participate as respondents. Each respondent will give a twenty-minute presentation on a subject of his or her own choice that corresponds with the session’s topic. A critical discussion between the session’s participants and its moderator will follow each pair of papers. At the end of each session, there will be a half hour for discussion with the audience.

The conference is organized by the Amsterdam Center for the Study of the Golden Age and sponsored by the Faculty of the Humanities (University of Amsterdam) Section Art History ( University of Amsterdam), NWO.

Programme: Friday, December 9

09.30-10.00 - Registration and Coffee
10.00-10.10 - Welcome and Introduction

Cluster 1: Structures and dynamics: the Amsterdam art market as a hub of cultural networks in the Dutch Golden Age

Moderator: Hans van Miegroet (Duke University)

Session 1 is built around the research possibilities of the ECARTICO database.

Topics to be covered include the demography of Amsterdam’s painter population; the Amsterdam art market as a hub of migration; and factors of failure and success of artists. Other issues to be discussed are the relationship between networks, opportunities and artistic prestige; and the commercial strategies that were developed in this ‘age of crisis’.


  • Marten Jan Bok (Universiteit van Amsterdam)
  • Harm Nijboer (Universiteit van Amsterdam)
  • Discussion


  • Anne McCants (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  • Claartje Rasterhoff (Universiteit Utrecht)
  • Discussion

12.25 -12.55 - Plenary discussion,

12.55-14.00 - Lunch

Cluster 2: Different people, different preferences. Who bought paintings in seventeenth- century Amsterdam, and why?

Moderator: Karolien de Clippel

Session 2 focuses on defining the art-buying public and their preferences or tastes. Despite a growing number of studies on the market for paintings, the audience is rarely defined. Usually a knowledgeable, well-to-do, male urban buyer is implied. At the same time, there is an awareness of a differentiated art market. After all, the production of art varies greatly according to iconography, style, size, quality and price. This session will focus on history painting, asking the question of whether it is possible to know more about the buyers of history painting and their motives. Ambitiously, we would like to examine methodological possibilities for studying the reception of history painting in order to better understand the relationship between buying and producing art, a theme that is at the core of the Ecartico project.

The following questions will launch our discussion: what did various people expect of art, why did they buy it, how did they use it (both practically and socially), who bought it, and at what moments in life was it purchased? Is it possible to relate certain themes, styles or levels of quality to the preferences of specific social groups, like women or regents? Our conclusions will be tentative, as the aim of the session is to open up discussion about ways to obtain a more encompassing view on the differentiated art market.


  • Elmer Kolfin (Universiteit van Amsterdam)
  • Anna Tummers (Frans Hals Museum)
  • Discussion

15.05-15.35 - Tea


  • Frauke Laarmann (Universiteit van Amsterdam / Open Universiteit)
  • Judith Pollmann (Universiteit Leiden)
  • Discussion

16.40-17.10 - Plenary discussion

17.15-18.30 Drinks

Programme: Saturday, December 10

Cluster 3: Friendship. Long-term relationships between patrons and painters in seventeenth-century Amsterdam

Moderator: Elizabeth Honig (University of California at Berkeley)

Session 3 deals with the careers of artists who built special relationships with elite clients. It has long been acknowledged that many leading Dutch painters of the seventeenth century enjoyed long-term relationships with some of their patrons. But while the reconstruction of social networks has received appropriate attention in socio-economic studies, the nature of long-term relationships between patrons and painters and their effects on painters’ careers have not. This session therefore focuses on the nature, workings, and coverage of long-term patron-client relationships. The point of departure is Luuc Kooijmans’ reconstruction of the seventeenth-century concept of friendship, a long-term relationship based on the reciprocity of imperative favours between patrons and clients. An introductory lecture by Luuc Kooijmans on the concept of friendship is followed by three papers on the effects of friendship on the careers of seventeenth-century Amsterdam painters: Paul Crenshaw will discuss Rembrandt’s career in this light, Erna Kok will focus on the strategies that Joachim von Sandrart performed to position himself at the high end of the Amsterdam art market (1637-1645), and Judith Noorman will discuss how Jacob van Loo escaped the death penalty and continued to cultivate his career. The papers and discussion will attempt to answer the following questions: how did friendship with patrons affected the careers of these artists? What social skills were imperative to function successfully in this society? What kinds of favours might painters have expected from their patrons? How did gifts of paintings function in this social climate?


  • Luuc Kooijmans (independent scholar)
  • Erna Kok (Universiteit van Amsterdam)
  • Discussion

10.20-11.50 - Coffee


  • Judith Noorman (Institute of Fine Arts, New York University)
  • Paul Crenshaw (Providence College, Providence, Rhode Island)
  • Discussion

11.55-12.25 - Plenary Discussion

12.25-13.30 - Lunch

Cluster 4: Competition, reputation and value

Moderator: Perry Chapman (University of Delaware)

Session 4 examines the relation of artistic identity to forces of the market, including the relationship between reputation and monetary value, and problems associated with the self-definition of the artist in a highly competitive environment. In the seventeenth century, an artist’s reputation had become a gauge of his position relative to his notable forerunners as well as his contemporaries, and an important means of asserting and sustaining value, both artistic and monetary.

Some questions to be addressed include: How did artists who were successful at the high end of the market fashion their artistic identities, and how was their art-making related to their reputations? How did their manners of painting, inventions, choice of subjects, and organization of their workshops relate to those of their peers, as well as to those history painters whose paintings sold for only five to fifty guilders apiece? Many questions are directly connected to the issues discussed in the preceding sessions.

Patrizia Cavazzini and Richard Spear – two experts on Roman artists and their relationship to the art market in Rome – will discuss these issues from the Italian, in particular Roman, point of view. This will bring our exploration of the situation in Amsterdam into sharper focus. Like Amsterdam, Rome was a major centre for the production of paintings in the seventeenth century, a centre for which, moreover, the mechanisms of the art market must have been quite well known to many Dutchmen (artists as well as connoisseurs). Parts of the art market in Rome seem to have been surprisingly comparable to that of Amsterdam, while other sections functioned in entirely different ways.


  • William Worth Bracken (Institute of Fine Arts, New York University)
  • Jacquelyn Coutré (Institute of Fine Arts, New York University)
  • Eric Jan Sluijter (Universiteit van Amsterdam)
  • Discussion

15.05-15.35 - Tea


  • Patrizia Cavazzini (independent scholar)
  • Richard Spear (University of Maryland)
  • Discussion

16.40-17.10 - Plenary discussion

17.10-17.30 - Concluding remarks


Participation is by invitation only.
To register, please reply via email to with "Ecartico" in the subject line. A fee of € 30 (€ 20 for students) will be due at the beginning of the conference to offset the costs of lunches and tea breaks.