History events at the IHR

Contradictory estimates: the paintings collection of Louis-Henri de Bourbon-Conde (1692-1740) through new archival documents

13 May 2013, 18:00 - 20:00

Event Type: Seminar


Francois Marandet (contributor to the forthcoming exhibition on Le Notre at Versailles, lecturer, IESA and Lyon)


Venue: Room G21A, Senate House, Ground floor

While the history of the art market is constantly progressing, the question of valuations (in post-mortem inventories) and their correspondence with auction prices in France during the Ancien Regime remains an obscure matter. This particular issue becomes clearer after the 1730s with the birth of printed auction catalogues: annotated prices can be compared with the estimates given a few days earlier in the same estate. It was recently stated that the value of a work of art was reduced when drawing up an inventory, by dividing its price in 2 or 3. In fact, this does not seem to have been always the rule. Objective criteria such as format and state of conservation surely had consequences for the financial values of works of art, but the value of a specific item may also greatly vary over a few decades, outside the popularity of its author or the fluctuation of the currency.  Estimates may even become contradictory as will be shown in the case of a well-known figure: Louis Henri de Bourbon-Conde (1692-1740), Louis XV's Prime Minister. Several estates enable us to reconstitute his paintings collection, which included famous works by Nicolas Poussin, Francesco Albani, Anton Van Dyck, Gerrit Dou or Anthonis Mor.  Newly discovered documents reveal which paintings he selected from the estate of his grand-father Henri-Jules de Bourbon-Conde and also those he bought at the sale after his death.  Where auction prices of his acquisitions were recorded, it is possible to see how far they relate to the estimates, prior to and after the sale. This new information will be considered in a larger context, that of a growing art market in France in the early 18th century.
Francois Marandet received his Ph.D. from the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris, in 2009. His dissertation focused on the history of collecting and the market of art in France during the first half of the eighteenth century.

Venue: Room G21a (Ground Floor)

South Block, Senate House 
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HU 

Related Events: Collecting & Display History