'Noising things abroad' - art, commodity and commerce in post-revolutionary Paris
This article examines some of the changes that took place in the Parisian art market in the wake of the French Revolution. The period witnessed a systemic shift in the ways in which the arts were made, written about, circulated and appreciated. The demise of high-minded aristocratic patronage of works of art of recognised canonical value was replaced by the large-scale production of works of more modest scale and ambition predicated not on connoisseurship but on intuitive appreciation. Much has been written about patterns of patronage in the ancien régime, but relatively little attention has been given to the early nineteenth century, to the new social and economic positions of Parisian artists, consumers and dealers and new ways in which the minor genres were made, mediated and consumed and the political contexts that sustained them. This article examines the operation of the Parisian art market in the early 1800s and explores some of the ways in which a new breed of professional art dealer fashioned a market for art, some of the attempts to promote and resist art’s commoditization and the various critical perspectives about commerce and the fate of the arts in France in a period of unprecedented political turmoil. The new ways of speaking about the arts that come about during this period are of some significance. The critical repertoire set into place by art dealers in the service of a new bourgeois market – one shaped by instinct and the personal insights of the artist - had a remarkably durable half-life and informed a vein of modernist writing for much of the century that followed.