"Painting and the Market in Early Modern Antwerp" by Elizabeth Alice Honig

Painting and the Market in Early Modern Antwerp Elizabeth Alice Honig

Yale Publications in the History of Art
Publication date:
09 Mar 1999
xi,308 pages: 254 x 203 x 26mm
24 colour plates, 100 b&w illustrations

This book explores the ways in which Flemish painting between 1550 and 1650 both represented and reflected the burgeoning capitalism of Antwerp, the major port of Europe at that time. Elizabeth Honig focuses not only on market-scene paintings but also on the interaction between painters and markets as it was influenced by the changing roles played by merchants, church and city governments, and consumers. Honig discusses the paintings of Pieter Aertsen and his nephew Joachim Beuckelaer within the context of a developing aesthetic of exchange, as art became increasingly defined as an alluring commodity that aroused in its beholder a desire for possession and called upon the tempering forces of individual reason and self-judgment. She then examines the relation between painting and the market that emerged in Antwerp after the Spanish reconquest, a period of social, economic, and religious retrenchment. Analyzing works by Frans Snyders, Jan Bruegel, and others, she shows how the dynamism of market commerce was pictorially masked to provide an illusion of stasis: still-life painting became the inheritor of - and subverter of - the market scene. Finally she considers the implications of an aesthetic of display within a newly dominant manner of artistic production (collaboration) and consumption (connoisseurship), as painters tried to produce works that would appeal to the tastes of consumers.