Careers and Canvases: The Rise of the Market for Modern Art in the Nineteenth Century
This paper reexamines the process by which a market for a new product modern painting emerged in Paris in the nineteenth century. Contrary to the accepted account, in which the monopoly of the official Salon was replaced by a competitive market operated by private dealers, we find that the Salon was in fact initially replaced by a series of smaller group exhibitions organized by artists. The Impressionists were thus leaders not only in creating modern art, but also in developing its markets. Our reinterpretation of this episode yields a new understanding of the interactions between artists and markets in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and for the first time highlights specific ways in which artists' behavior was affected by the structure of art markets during the first half century of the modern era.