• 12 December 2016

published 24 Sept. 1796, etching and aquatint, hand coloured, 35 x 25.7 cm. Collection of the British Museum, London (1868,0808.6552) 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. A new paper, featured in the latest issue of British Art Studies, 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 the 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.

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