Contemporary & Historic Issues No.5

Contemporary & Historic Issues in the Art Market No.5

MONDAY 7th December 2020 – 6.30pm-7.30pm – On ZOOM

‘Museums and the Market: Deaccessioning in the Covid-19 and post-Covid world’

Reports that the Royal Academy was considering selling their famous Michelangelo sculpture, which has been part of their collections since 1830, in order to save 150 jobs under threat as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, raised the issue of how public museums might survive the crisis and have once again foregrounded the relationships between museums and the art market. This discussion-based seminar, the 5th in our informal occasional research seminars focused on Contemporary & Historic Issues in the Art Market, explores these complex and often contentious issues.  Open Discussion format – on the virtual ‘Zoom’ platform (details to follow); just come along and ‘discuss’ the issues – ALL WELCOME


Contemporary & Historic Issues in the Art Market

Centre for the Study of the Art & Antiques Market (CSAAM)

Contemporary & Historic Issues in the Art Market

MONDAY 22nd October 2018: 5.00pm-6.00pm

Liberty Building G.32

‘The Dematerialisation of Art and the Rematerialisation of Value?’


Banksy ‘Girl with a Red Balloon’ Sotheby’s, London. Photo Sotheby’s/New York Times

The third in our ‘informal’ occasional research seminar series focused on Contemporary & Historic Issues in the Art Market, organised by the Centre for the Study of the Art & Antiques Market (CSAAM)

Following the auction sale of Banksy’s Girl with a Red Balloon, which sold for £860,000 and promptly proceeded to ‘self-destruct’, this discussion forum focuses on this latest ‘event’ in the art market. Open Discussion format – just come along and ‘discuss’ the issues; email Mark Westgarth for more information if needed WELCOME

Conference Roundtable- What’s Next?: Art Markets, Museums & Collecting

PhD student and conference organiser Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth summarises our recent Conference Roundtable


The roundtable participants included: Jeremy Howard (Head of Academic Projects, P & D Colnaghi); Dr Rachel Conroy (Curator, Temple Newsam House, Leeds); and Ronnie Duncan (Lifelong Art Collector).

After a successful two days of stimulating conversation and much food for thought at our conference Private Collecting and Public Display: Art Markets & Museums we were delighted to end with a lively roundtable session. Chaired by Centre Director Dr Mark Westgarth, the roundtable centred on three representatives from the art market, the museum, and the field of private collecting.

The topic of the roundtable was ‘What’s Next?: Art Markets, Museums & Collecting’ and Dr Westgarth led the session by questioning each participant about the main issues facing their sector in the future. Dr Conroy began by stating that for museums the biggest challenges were financial restraints and the declining number of curatorial specialists. She urged both regional and national museums to have more ambition in securing new pieces for their collections and maintained that curators have a responsibility to collect from the art market, as well as from private collectors. Jeremy Howard responded by seconding the need for continuing connoisseurship in research and curatorial settings. He also championed the need for new collectors who must be encouraged to look towards pre-1900 art, citing that after the recent news of the closure of Christie’s South Kensington, the art market is moving increasingly towards a sole focus on contemporary art. Dr Westgarth responded by asking why exhibitions and the art world in general were moving towards such a contemporary shift. This led Jeremy to posit that taste and also the art market are cyclical, and whilst today our focus is on modern and contemporary art, perhaps this may change in the coming years. Therefore, as Jeremy emphasized, it is the dealer, as a representative of the art market, who has a responsibility to work together with museums and emerging collectors to create new admiration for the currently struggling art markets, particularly Old Master paintings and decorative art.


Finally, Dr Westgarth turned his attention towards British art collector Ronnie Duncan who for over sixty years has been collecting modern British sculpture in Yorkshire and has exhibited his collection to the public previously at The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery in the University of Leeds. Ronnie Duncan responded to the question regarding the future role and challenges faced by collectors, by stating that as a collector he has concern for the future destination of his collection and hopes to ensure that it goes into good hands, citing his own future intention to donate several pieces to museums. Most importantly Ronnie wants his art to be put on display carefully, so that objects that have been carefully collected over the years and which tell a story together, can ‘shine off and juxtapose one another’ in a public museum setting.

The roundtable continued with contributions from the floor and discussions occurred regarding the need for transparency in the art market in terms of provenance and retribution research, the role of digital platforms and the digitization of private collections as further blurring boundaries, and finally, ended with a fruitful discussion regarding the semantics of the art market and museum, particularly what constitutes a ‘public’ object or ‘private’ sphere.

Drawing the conference to a close, Dr Mark Westgarth summarised the key themes which arose over the two days, and looked forward to continuing conversations and collaborations between the scholarly fields of art markets, museums, and the histories of collecting.

-Posted by Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth

Private Collecting, Public Display: Art Markets & Museums Conference Summary

PhD student and conference organiser Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth summarises our recent conference

On 30th and 31st March 2017 the Research Centre for the Study of the Arts and Antiques Market hosted their inaugural conference: Private Collecting and Public Display: Art Markets & Museums and were delighted to have over 80 delegates in attendance.

Centre Director Dr Mark Westgarth opened the conference and argued for a legitimization of the art and antiques market as a scholarly discipline. He noted the historical relationships between the porous boundaries of the private and public spheres and ended by asking delegates to question what constitutes and creates the formation of private and public boundaries, particularly in relation to the art market, the histories of collecting, and the role of the museum.

Over the two days delegates heard stimulating new research from seven panels, examining the private and public boundaries between art markets, museums, and collectors. Topics included the birth of museums, display, current museum practices, the role of art dealers and the art market, issues of deaccessioning, and questions regarding ‘museum quality’.


Keynote Lecture: Dr Susanna Avery-Quash, Senior Research Curator (History of Collecting) at the National Gallery, London. Entitled: Shades of Grey and Areas of Tension: challenges and opportunities arising from the blurred boundaries between private and public collections and the art market.

Day One ended with a thought-provoking keynote lecture from Dr Susanna Avery-Quash. Dr Avery-Quash opened her keynote by promoting the notion of collaboration between the academic fields of the history of collecting and the art market, citing a variety of recent conferences, publications, and scholarly programmes. Dr Avery-Quash also highlighted the founding of two new academic societies in the field: Society for the History of Collecting and The International Art Markets Association. Throughout her keynote Dr Avery-Quash examined the trajectory of private collections entering public domains, focusing on three themes: 1) Influence of Donors, 2) Finance, and 3) Professionalization of Collections.

Using the National Gallery as her case study, she described that in the 1830s the National Gallery was criticized for being indistinguishable from that of a private collection, and credited Sir Charles Eastlake, the first director of the museum, for professionalizing the museum. Dr Avery-Quash noted that Eastlake was constantly discussing, learning, and buying from members of the trade, for example Otto Mundler, as well as orchestrating loans and donations from private collectors. Dr Avery-Quash celebrated this creative interchange between private and public spheres, although also acknowledged the subjectivity involved in what constituted ‘museum quality’ and therefore what should or should not be put on display.

In the concluding section of the keynote Dr Avery-Quash argued for the importance of visible provenance research, which is crucial to the life and narrative behind an art object, and also discussed the need for a better symbiosis between research and curatorial art expertise. She urged delegates to look towards the future, noting the importance of preserving dealer and collector archives and the potential of digital data and virtual reality programmes for disseminating knowledge. Finally, Dr Avery-Quash advocated the importance of collaboration between the art market, collectors, museums, and those involved professionally in each respective field, and this was met with resounding agreement from the floor.

-Posted by Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth

A Delegates View of ‘Private Collecting & Public Display: Art Markets and Museums’ – University of Leeds 30th-31st March 2017


Many readers of this blog may know that the Centre for the Study of the Art and Antiques Market chose ‘Private Collecting & Public Display: Art Markets and Museums’ as the theme of its recent conference at the University of Leeds. The Centre, under the direction of Mark Westgarth, has quickly established its reputation for serious and sustained research in all aspects of the art and antiques market and as such the stately Nathan Bodington Chamber, with its restrained Art Deco wood paneling and impressive portraiture of past Vice-Chancellors, was a suitable venue for the conference proceedings to unfold. The conference was made possible by funding from the White Rose College and CSAAM itself and was organised by a small group of highly motivated PhD students from Leeds and Sheffield who, over the two days of the conference, proved to be a highly efficient, well-organised and convivial team.


My own interest in attending as a delegate lay in finding out more about the social dynamics existing between the various stakeholders in the art and antiques market and to consider whether patterns could be seen to emerge in their social networks over time. These questions coincide with my own ongoing research interests and I am pleased to report that over 75% of the speakers raised, considered or addressed these themes to some extent and provided me with much food for thought as a result.


The conference itself was an international affair, attracting around sixty speakers and delegates from academic and cultural institutions across the UK, Europe and North and South America as well as private collectors, dealers and independent scholars and writing personally as a delegate without any responsibility other than to be open to new ideas and perspectives that the conference would raise, it was clear from the outset that the conference was ambitious in its scope with the scheduling of twenty-one papers across seven themed panels; along with a keynote address from Susanna Avery-Quash of the National Gallery. That the conference Call For Papers must have attracted healthy response is not surprising as the history of the competing and cooperating relationships between Collectors and Institutions captures the imagination of anyone who considers it for any length and its narratives unlock a wealth of insight into the methods and meaning of the art and antiques market as they have changed over time. It was clear then, that the many facets of the conferences central theme would be thoroughly explored and this proved to be the case as it was to reach its conclusion.


After the opening address by Mark Westgarth, highlights on the first day included the opening paper by Marie Tavinor on the Politics of Donation and the Tate bequest, which emphasised for me, the importance of shifting notions of value in art markets – aside from her mention of the Panopticon prison that stood on the site of the National Gallery and which has provided me with another area for research! Margaret Iaconco and Helen Glaister completed the first panel and both explored how the agency of collectors, institutions and the public played a part in shaping how private collections became public exhibits. Other speakers considered notions of status, as Nicole Cochrane spoke about the collecting of Charles Townley in the 18th Century, and authenticity, as Alison Clarke spoke about the display of 18th Century Fragonard’s at Agnew’s at the end of the 19th Century and both spoke about connoisseurship but ultimately, for me, about investment; both personal and financial. The theme of moving from ‘private to public’ continued throughout the morning and the idea of continuity of tradition and the role of agency in that narrative was further, and thoroughly, explored. The keynote address concluded the proceeding of the first day when Susan Avery-Quash gave an inspiring ‘call to arms’ address which served as a gauge of the cultural health of the art and museums sector in the present, and called for strategies going forward for the future.


Highlights on the second day included papers by Rasmus Kjaerboe, Gareth Fletcher, Helen Ritchie and Tom Boggis which explored in divergent ways the common themes addressing notions of individual and shared perceptions of the cultural and material value of art and the expectations that collectors and institutions have with regard to the life and legacy of that which is displayed. The individual panels were followed by a concluding Round Table discussion between Mark as moderator and Jeremy Howard (dealer and academic) Ronnie Duncan (Art Collector) and Rachel Conroy (Curator) which discussed and contextualised the themes raised across the two days and this successfully brought the diverse strands of the conference together into a coherent whole and ‘statement of intent’ for both CSAAM and the legacy of the conference going forward. All in all, I found this this to be a very rewarding couple of days spent in Leeds and its organisers ensured that all those in attendance were regularly revived with excellent refreshments and catering; the highlight being the generous conference dinner on the first night and opportunity for further discussion. It only remains to be said that I hope that CSAAM will host conferences of a similar caliber in the not so distant future and that I could thoroughly recommend them to future delegates and potential speakers. Thanks once again to all those concerned and for providing an opportunity for such a useful exchange of ideas!

Graham Panico





Where is it Now? – we found our first one!

Thanks to Simon Spier, one of our Centre for the Study of the Art & Antiques Market PhD students, we have found the first of the ‘Where is it Now?’ objects. The object in question is a ‘Lambeth’ Delftware plate, dated 1717, with the initials ‘W D C’ painted on the top rim.

Deftware plate, dated 1717. Phillips of Hitchin Archive MS1999/4/1/52. Photograph courtesy of the Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds, 2017.

The plate was in the stock of the antique dealers Phillips of Hitchin in c.1900, shown above in one of the photograph albums of stock that are part of the Phillips archive at the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds.

We have discovered that the delftware plate is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, USA. The plate is currently part of the Met Museum’s collections of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts – here’s a link to the Met Museum collections online for the PLATE 

And here’s the plate itself, in full, glorious colour! The plate is on display in Gallery 710 in the Met Museum if you want to go and see it for yourself.

Lambeth delftware plate, date 1717, diameter 9 inches. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 12.279.9 Rogers Fund, 1913. Photograph copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Metropolitan Museum acquired the plate in 1913 (via the Rogers Fund), through the well-known antique dealer Frederick Rathbone (1837-1919). Rathbone was, by 1913, trading at 20 Alfred Place, South Kensington, London, and would have been in his mid 70s when he sold the plate to the Met Museum. He was an acknowledged expert on antique ceramics, especially on Wedgwood and ‘Old English Pottery’; he was famous for helping to assemble the collections of William Hesketh Lever (1851-1925) 1st Viscount Leverhulme, and the extensive collections of 18th century Wedgwood ceramics assembled by Lord Tweedmouth (1820-1894).

It’s not known when, for how much, or to whom, Phillips of Hitchin sold the plate – it may have been sold direct to Rathbone, we have yet to discover that information, but it will be buried in the extensive archives at the Brotherton Library Special Collections.  What we do know is that Phillips bought the plate from the collection of the well-known collector W.H. Booth of Ipswich in Suffolk sometime around 1900.

Anyway, we are pleased at least to have found the first of the ‘Where is it Now?’ objects, and to have provided a little more provenance information to the delftware plate in the collections at the Metropolitan Museum, New York.


‘Where is it Now?’

As part of the developing the rich potential of the wide variety of Antique Dealer archives that we now have at the Brotherton Library Special Collections at the University of Leeds we have developed a ‘Where is it Now?’ project. The project aims to reconnect some of the objects in the archives with their current owners, if they still exist in public museums or private collections anywhere.  We are choosing objects that are relatively easy to identify, and objects that we believe are (still) of some historical significance.

The photographs of the objects will be initially from the Phillips of Hitchin archive photograph albums, which appear to date from c.1900.  Phillips of Hitchin were established in 1882 at the Manor House, Hitchin, and remained there for over 120 years. The business sold antique objects to museums and collectors from all over the world, so we are hoping that some of the objects will speak of their travels!

The first of the ‘Where is it Now?’ objects is this Lambeth (London) delftware plate, dated 1717, and with the initials ‘C W D’ painted on it. If you know where it is do let us know by emailing

Happy Hunting!


Enter a caption

Lambeth delftware plate, 1717. Phillips of Hitchin archive, Brotherton Library Special Collections, University of Leeds, MS1999/4/1/52. Photograph courtesy of the Brotherton Library Special Collections, 2016.


Art Market PhD Studentship, Loughborough University

Museum Culture and the Art Market: Private Collecting and Public Responsibility it in the Contemporary Artworld.

The objective of this PhD studentship is to investigate connections between public museum practices, private collecting, and art market activity in the contemporary artworld. Questions concerning the social functions of collecting have become acute in light of the significant rise in the number of high net worth collectors in the global art market over the past decade. This project proposes an examination of the extension of collector influence beyond the traditional boundaries of the art market, including, but not limited to, the establishment of institutions that compete with public museums. By enquiring into the social goods and powers derived from private collecting, this project seeks to provide a better understanding of the public responsibilities of individuals who are shaping the exhibition practices and trajectories of the contemporary artworld.