LECTURE ON MONDAY, 09/12/2019
Prof. Dr. Timothy Brook, Vancouver, talks about:
Paintings and Prices: the Art Market in Late Ming China
Evening Lecture of the Forum Kunst und Markt / Centre for Art Market Studies at Technische Universität Berlin in cooperation with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ostasiatische Kunst e.V.
Date: 09/12/2019, 6:15 p.m.
Venue: Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Museen Dahlem, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Lecture Hall, Takustraße 40, 14195 Berlin
++Title, abstract and CV are always written in the respective language of presentation.++
Abstract: Here in the twenty-first century when we talk about art, we talk about the market. Chinese art collectors were having the same conversation four centuries ago. Great art was expensive art and expensive art was great art, and the connection between connoisseurship and the market only became stronger as the Ming economy expanded from the 1550s to the 1620s. We may think we live in a world in which everything is determined by price, but the people of the Ming were already living our predicaments. This lecture will explore the impact of the market on the circulation of paintings and calligraphy in Ming China by working from two bodies of material. One is quantitative: the prices that I have been able to extract, despite the resistance of the sources, from Ming writings. The other material is qualitative: the diary entries of Li Rhua, a minor artist and major collector in the 1610s. By pairing my numbers with his narratives, we will find an art market in which collectors worried about the perils of buying expensive art and tried to devise strategies to keep prices down, even as sellers were driving them up. Supply and demand never reach an equilibrium in a luxury market, hence the inevitability of fakes.
Timothy Brook is Republic of China Chair at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. He has authored or co-authored fourteen books, edited seven, and served as editor-in-chief of Harvard University Press’s six-volume history of imperial China. A historian of China, his work actively intersects with global history. He is best known for “Vermeer’s Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World”. In September he published “Great State: China and the World”, which appeared simultaneously in French as “Le Léopard de Kubilai Khan”. He is currently on research leave in Berlin at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science to complete a price history of the Ming dynasty.