You might be surprised to learn private art collecting is an avocation with a history that goes back as far as the Middle Ages (5th – 15th centuries) in Europe and East Asia. It later evolved in Italy during the Renaissance period (14th – 17th centuries) of cultural change and achievement in painting, sculpture, architecture, literature, music, philosophy, science and exploration, and spread across Europe as kings and nobleman amassed vast art collections to display within their grand palaces. By the 18th century, an art collection had become a status symbol for the wealthy, and collectors’ preferences influenced what new works artists produced for the art market.

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Spanish Baroque artist, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, was one of the most famous artists in all of Europe during the the 17th and 18th centuries, and his paintings were highly sought after by both French and British art collectors.  By the end of the the 18th century, however, Murillo’s popularity began to decline, and his works of art were later dismissed as “sentimental, weak and inconsequential” and eventually forgotten a century later.  Today, art historians and museum curators have rediscovered Murillo, and begun to reassess and appreciate Murillo’s talent and significant role in art history.

Dr. Véronique Gerard Powell, honorary Senior Lecturer in the History of Art at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, is a specialist in Spanish painting and the history of collecting.  During her lecture, Murillo: The Shared Passion of 19th Century French and British Collectors, she explores how opportunities and the means of collecting differed in 19th Century Britain and France and the reasons for the sudden loss of interest in Murillo’s work.  If you missed the live broadcast of the lecture, there’s still time to watch a video recording.  Just click/tap the “Watch Again” button or the post on the video player below.


Art Collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm is an example of art collecting in the 17th century and can be viewed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Vienna, Austria
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, The National Gallery, London
Arts Council England, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (bio & artworks)
How to Collect Art Like a Pro – How to Build an Art Collection, Alan Bamberger, Art Business consulting
A Poor Collector’s Guide to Buying Great Art (10 tips) by Henri Neuenndorf, Art Net News (June 19,2015)


Online crowdsourcing art history project allows everyone to browse and transcribe archives of artistsFind out how you can help with art history research right from home, and discover the life of an artist using a very cool, free to
use online tool “AnnoTate”



A collector's passion can get out of control at times, but it's also a hobby that many people enjoy.A Collector’s Passion:  The many varied interests and passions
of collectors are similar in one significant characteristic — sometimes the hobby can get out of control.




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Feature image sourced via Wikimedia: Two Women at a Window by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, c. 1655–60 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC) Public Domain
Images of 17th century collections in slideshow were sourced via Wikimedia

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Posted by Zola Zeester

Zola is a vagabond playmaker, the On2In2™ recreation guru and primary source of inspiration for this article. Currently resides at Zeester Media HQ.

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