Frans Francken II, The Collection of paintings "of Sebastiaan Leerse", KMSKA.

USAGE: The Art Market

In the 16th Century, the very first specialised art market originates in Antwerp. For the first time, works of art are made for the free market. After the fall of the city in 1585, the economy revives itself and the market for luxury goods even more so. Among other things, textiles, art cabinets, musical instruments and paintings were sold. During the first decades of the 17th Century, the number of art dealers continues to rise. They maintain an impressive network with branches all over Europe. The large consumer market signifies a stimulus for the production of art.

The level of the production of art in Antwerp becomes guaranteed by the stamp of quality on the oaken panels, inter alia. "Made in Antwerp" is a prestigious title of provenance. Because of the rising demand for art, primarily by the patricians, there is also evidence of mass production with cheaper works of art that are made in series. Popular compositions of big names are reproduced.

In the 17th Century the number of art collectors, or so-called liefhebbers (lovers) grows to epic proportions. The new Antwerp genre of the painted art chamber is a consequence and art connoisseurs begin to arise. The common studio practice, whereby assistants do the preparatory work and the Master gives his personal touch at the end to the work, becomes problematic in some cases. Commissioners who are savvy sometimes require that the Master himself produces an ordered work.

A greater production also has the consequence that artists become specialists and that sometimes various Masters work on a single work of art.

Matthias Depoorter