Bénédicte Miyamoto, “Satire & art market practices: the auction as visual trope in the eighteenth-century” (13 oct.)

Jeudi 13 octobre 2022 à 17h (salle D421 à Serpente) :

Bénédicte Miyamoto, “Satire & art market practices: the auction as visual trope in the eighteenth-century”

As auctions burst on the London scene, they became convenient shortcuts for satirists. Increasingly familiar with these urban spectacles, their actors and ‘props’, the public perceived auctions as highly volatile events rooted in consumer manipulation. Prints reverting to the tropes of the auction tended to satirize contracts between unequal parties and with power or information imbalance – from scandalous marriages to corrupt political representation. In turn, this reinforced the distrust towards connoisseurship, the collecting impulse, and the burgeoning art market.

Drawing from the collection of the British Museum and the Lewis Walpole Library, episodes of intense satire production (1730s, 1760s, and 1790s) can be identified, revealing the anxieties of the early modern to modern market transition, the intersections of the modern state and the marketplace, and the public disquiet at shifting valuations of taste and arbitration.

However, by confronting reputation to praxis, and investigating itemized bills and annotated catalogues, we gain insight into the art world’s business practices, explaining the increasing commercial success of auctions in the face of their enduring public disrepute.

Bénédicte MIYAMOTO (PhD, Université Paris Diderot) is an Associate Professor in British History at Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris, and a scholar of the eighteenth-century British art market and artistic professions. She has published her research in Moving Pictures: Intra-European Trade in Images De Marchi and Raux, Brepols, 2014; Marketing Art in the British Isles, Gould and Mesplède, Ashgate, 2016; Art Crossing Borders: The International Art Market in the Age of Nation States, Baetens and Lyna, Brill, 2019, and London and the Emergence of a European Art Market, Huemer and Avery-Quash, Getty 2019, Art Markets, Agents and Collectors, Turpin and Bracken, 2021. She has co-edited Forms, Formats and the Circulation of Knowledge (LWW, Brill 2020) and Art & Migration (MUP, 2021).