Painting for the Market: Commercialisation of Art in Antwerp's Golden Age [1 ed.] 2503513816

This study examines the process of commercialization of art which took place in Antwerp during the long sixteenth centur

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Painting for the Market: Commercialisation of Art in Antwerp's Golden Age [1 ed.]

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Under the auspices of the 'lnteruniversity Attraction Poles Programme (Phase V n° 10) Belgian State - Federal office for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs' Programme

Illustration on cover: Abraham Janssen, Scaldis and Antwerpia, 1608-1609. Antwerp, Royal Museum of Fine Arts.

© 2003 Brepols Publishers n.v., Turnhout, Belgium All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. D/2003/0095/107 ISBN 2-503-51381-6 Printed in the E.U. on acid-free paper

Dedicated to my daughters, Margot and Ella That they may grow up with a love ofhistory and art


List of Figures, Graphs, Tables and Appendices List of Abbreviations Acknowledgments







1 THE RisE OF THE ANTWERP ART MARKET (1490-1540) 1.1 Introduction 1.2 The Panden until 1540 1.2.1 The Dominican Pand (1445-1553) 1.2.2 Our Lady's Pand (1460-1540) 1.3 The First Export Boom (ca. 1500-1525) 1.3.1 Paintings 1.3.2 Sculpture 1.4 The Slow-Down of the 1520s and 1530s

15 15 19 21 24 28 29 31 33

2 A PERMANENT INTERNATIONAL MARKET FOR PAINTING (1540-1585) 2.1 Introduction: The Foundations of a Burgeoning Art Market 2.2 Temporary Disturbances and Structural Decline (1566-1585) 2.3 The Changing Landscape of Art Sales: Old and New Panden (1540-1585) 2.3.1 Our Lady's and the Dominican Panden in Decline: The End of an Era 2.3.2 The Schilderspand: A Checkered History 2.4 Art Dealers in Antwerp: A New Profession Emerges 2.4.1 Origins 2.4.2 An Art Dealer in Close-Up: The Alleyns Family Business 2.4.3 Sorne Observations on the Community of Art Dealers in Antwerp 2.5 Exporting Art Across the Globe 2.5.1 Paintings 2.5.2 Sculpture 2.5.3 Tapestries 2.5.4 Books and Prints 2.5.5 Miscellaneous 2.6 Points of Light in Troubled Times: The State of the Art Market (1566-1585)

35 35 39



46 47 50 62 68 70 74 79 82 85 87 91 93 100 VII

3 THE COLLAPSE OF THE ANTWERP ART MARKET (1585-1609) 3.1 Introduction: The Fall of Antwerp and its Aftermath 3.2 The Art Market in Shambles 3.3 De Momper and the SchilderspandRevisited: The End of an Era





109 111 116





4.1 Introduction 4.2 The Painter's Workshop in Perspective 4.3 The Regulatory Environment: The Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke 4.3.1 Levels of Control versus Market Forces 4.3.2 A Pragmatic Approach: Art Dealers and the Guild CHAPTER



5 .1 Introduction 5 .2 Categories of Domestic Demand 5.2.1 Religious Institutions 5.2.2 Civic Institutions 5.2.3 Private Patronage 5.3 Domestic versus International Demand CHAPTER


121 121 124 127

130 134 141 141 142 142 144 147



6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4

Introduction Pre-conditions for Commercialization Ramifications Antwerp and Bruges

153 153 157 159 163



Bibliography Appendices Index

175 193 203




Scaldis andAntverpia (Abraham Janssen, 1609) 2 View ofAntwerp (Anonymous, ca. 1540) 3 Antwerp (Virgilius Bononiensis, 1565) 4 Our Lady's Pand(Hieronymus Cock, ca. 1550) 5 Adoration ofthe Magi (Master of the Antwerp Adoration, ca. 1520) 6 Zukowo Retable (Anonymous, 1520-1525) 7 Caricature of the Duke of Alva (Anonymous, 1572) 8 Tapissierspand (Virgilius Bononiensis, 1565) 9 The New Bourse (After Pieter Van der Burcht, 1581) 10 A Dealers Shop (French or Flemish, late Sixteenth Century) 11 ]oris Vezeleer (Copy after Joos Van Cleve, Sixteenth Century) 12 Marten Alleyns FamilyTree 13A Example of 1543-1545 Export Register Entry 13B Example of 1553 Export Register Emry 14 ]ezusbeeldje (Early Sixteenth Century) 15 Oudenaarde Tapestry (Anonymous, ca. 1550) 16 Spinet (Hans Ruckers the Elder, 1591) 17 The Wharf ofAntwerp (Sebastiaan Vrancx, ca. 1616-1618) 18 Adoration ofthe Magi, Detail (Master of the Antwerp Adoration, ca. 1520) 19 Battle ofthe Money-bags and the Strong-boxes (Pieter Van der Heyden after Pieter Bruegel, after 1570)

2 14 22 25 30 32 42 47 52 59 65 72 81 81 86 90 93 123 161






4 5


Revenues of Our Lady's Pand (1465-1560) Renters of Our Lady's Pand (1543-1560) Revenues of the Schilderspand (1540-1600) Export of Paintings (1543-1545) Origins ofTapestries Exported to the Iberian Peninsula (1553) New Members of the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke (1460-1609)

34 49 54 82 89 129



3 4

5 6


New Members of the Guild of Saint Luke (1460-1539) Demographic Evolution of Antwerp During the Long Sixteenth Century Art Dealers in the Guild of Saint Luke During the Sixteenth Century Appearance of Art Dealers in Antwerp (Before 1600) Median Price of Flemish Tapestries Exported to the Iberian Peninsula (1553) Plantin Book Production by Language (1555-1589) The Export of Musical Instruments from Antwerp (1543-1545)

18 37 66 68 89 91 94 IX

Annual Export of Paintings and Books from Antwerp to the lberian Peninsula (1543-1553) 9 Annual Export of Musical Instruments from Antwerp to the lberian Peninsula (1543-1553) 10 Top Exporters ofWorks of Art to the lberian Peninsula (1553) 11 Export ofWorks of Art from Antwerp to France (1543-1545) 12 Paintings in the Dierick Bijns Inventory (1583) 13 Masters in the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke (1588-1589) 14 Art Dealers as Deans in the Guild of Saint Luke (Before 1600) 15 Median and Average Number of Paintings in Antwerp Probate Inventories (1565-1585) 16 Composition of Median Painting Ownership According to Subject Category in Antwerp Probate Inventories (1565-1585)


95 95 98 103 106 113 135 148 149



3 4

5 6


Revenues and Pandmeesters of the Schilderspand Jan Van Kessel's Shop at the Schilderspand Art Dealers in Antwerp During the Sixteenth Century Excerpts from the Dierick Bijns Probate lnventory, Antwerp Art Dealer in Paris Ordinance lssued by the Antwerp Magistrate Concerning Art Dealers (October 3, 1575) Request Submitted to the Antwerp Magistrate by Bartholomeus De Momper onJune22, 1595 Request Submitted to the Antwerp Magistrate by Bartholomeus De Momper on August 7, 1595


191 l 92 193 194 197 198 199


A.RA.B. C.B. cm diss. cxhib. cat.

Algemeen Rijksarchief (Brussels) Certificatieboeken Centimeter Dissertation Exhibition catalogue



G.A. h. K.A. n. N. n.d. nr. P.K. r R.A.A. Reg. R.K. S.A.A. S.R. s.v.

Gilden en Ambachten Height Kathedraalarchief Note Notariaat No date Number Privilegekamer Recto Royal Academy of Antwerp Register Rekenkamer Stadsarchief Antwerpen Schepenregister Sub verbo Verso Vierschaar





This book is an adaptation of a dissertation which I defended at Columbia University (New York) in December 2000. I would like to express my gratitude to Marc Boone, Bruno Blondé and Guido Marnef for including this study in a new series on urban history in the context of the "Interuniversity Attraction Poles Programme - Belgian State - Federal Office for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs." I owe a great debt to Koen De Scheemaeker who was indispensable in preparing the manuscript for publication; I could not have done this without him. My graduate studies and the dissertation on which this book is based have taken me to the great cities of New York and Antwerp, and have provided me over the years with ample excuses to travel between the two nations I am attached to most. Now that my formal training as an historian has corne to some sort of completion, I would like to thank a number of people on both sides of the Atlantic without whom this book would never have been written. First of all, my deepest thanks must go to Wim Smit, my sponsor and advisor at Columbia University. His erudition, enthusiasm, encouragements and last but not least his rijsttafel made my time in New York both tremendously enjoyable and an unforgettable learning experience. It is an honor to be associated with what at least one historian has called the School of Wim Smit. My thanks also goes to a number of scholars at Columbia who directly and indirectly influenced my thinking and the way I approached my topic. David Freedberg introduced me to the wonderful world of art history, and never failed to stress the need to pursue this research in an interdisciplinary fashion. Others who played a decidedly stimulating role in my training at Columbia are Martha Howell and Eugene Rice, both through their courses and by playing an active role in my orals and dissertation committees. Also, I am grateful to Mathew Jones who was willing to join the defense committee on short notice. I am indebted to Kate Rudy, fellow Columbian in Antwerp, not just for proofreading several chapters but foremost for always maintaining a positive spirit about our respective academic undertakings. Most of the writing of the book took place while I was employed as a research assistant of the Fund for Scientific Research-Flanders (FWO-V), as part of the "Socio-economic context and expansion of Flemish seventeenth-century painting (1585-1700)" grant. I am deeply indebted to the FWO-V for their logistical and financial assistance which has made the research for this book feasible. For almost four years, the Rubenianum (University of Antwerp) was my professional home. My supervisor at this fascinating art-historical institution, Arnout Balis, deserves aspecial mentioning. His belief in my project and flexibility which allowed me to organize my own time were a godsend, and Arnout's notorious ability for critical reading of scholarly texts has saved me from many mistakes and forced me to keep my focus, specifically in matters of art history. I will fondly remember the many debates encompassing a broad range of historical and art historical issues we engaged in over XIII

one or (usually) more pints of beer in one of our favorite Antwerp cafés, and 1 can only hope that we will continue this practice and our friendship in the years to corne. Nora De Poorter and her staff were kind enough to let me make full use of the facilities at the Rubenianum. Furthermore, I thank Christine Van Mulders for her encouragements and practical support. Natasja Peeters' thorough reading of a part of the thesis led to numerous suggestions, all of which proved very helpful. A particular word of gratitude needs to be directed at Karolien De Clippel. Her kindness and patience (not in the least for letting me monopolize her printer at a crucial time), in addition to her willingness to read early drafts of various chapters, are very much appreciated. Many professors, colleagues and friends at the University of Antwerp have been a great support ever since 1 started my studies in the field of history as an undergraduate in 1985. It will suffice to mention Ben Croon, Hilde Greefs, Guido Marnef, Raymond Van Uytven and especially Bruno Blondé whose unbridled enthusiasm for the metier has always been an inspiration. 1 also would like to thank the staff of the City Archives of Antwerp for their cooperation, and Marie-Juliette Marinus in particular for resolving even the most challenging paleographical problems. Over the last couple of years, I have been privileged to be part of an international workshop on art markets run by Neil De Marchi and Hans Van Miegroet (Duke University), and my thanks go to both of them for including me. My manuscript has benefited greatly from these seminars (which were conveniently held in Antwerp) in the sense that they functioned as a forum where ideas about the relationship between art and economics have been discussed by specialists from both America and Europe. Neil De Marchi also took the time to comment on two chapters of the original dissertation. My extended family has been there for me from the beginning. Especially myown parents and my in-laws in the U.S. -each in their own way-were unrelenting in their support. Last but not least, without my wife Kerri I would not even have considered pursuing my doctoral studies in the United States, although at this point 1 am convinced that she is the only person in the world who is happier than I am that this project has corne to a conclusion. For the years of love, dedication and unconditional support 1 cannot thank her enough. Antwerp, April 18, 2003.



Abraham Janssen, Sea/dis and A ntwerp ia (1608-1609) , oil on panel, 174 x 308 cm. Antwerp, Royal Museum of Fine Arts.


When the two battle-weary adversaries of the Eighty Years' War, Spain and the Dutch rebels, finally entered serious peace negotiations in 1608, the magistrate of Antwerp called on one of its most promising artists to paint an appropriate scene. This painting was to be hung in the stateroom of the city's magnificent town hall, in an attempt to create an atmosphere of reconciliation. The composition which Abraham Janssen (ca. 1575-1632) completed in 1609, Scaldis andAntverpia, would have been easily recognizable to those who lived 400 years ago, and it remains so to many inhabitants of Antwerp today (see Figure 1). Two allegorical figures dominate the painting: the majestically-reclining figure of Neptune personifies the Scheldt, and the maid of Antwerp reaches out in a gesture oflonging reminiscent of Michelangelo's Creation ofAdam in the Sistine Chapel. Scaldis obliges the yearning of Antwerp by holding out the horn of plenty signifying the rewards of long-distance trade. The timeliness of this painting lies in the theme whereby the prosperity and indeed survival of the city is linked to the great River Scheldt, 500 yards wide at the roadstead in Antwerp and the direct connection with the North Sea. For centuries, the Scheldt has brought commerce and wealth to Antwerp. For that reason it was and is the city's lifeline. Abraham Janssen, of course, knew from his persona! experience how desperately his native city depended on this vital trade route. As a young and aspiring artist, Janssen was training with the painter and art dealer Jan Snellinck in 1584 and 1585 when Antwerp experienced one of the most traumatic episodes of its history. Spanish troops had laid in a siege to reconquer the city from the Protestant rebels who had made it their stronghold, and trade and industry had corne to a halt. The once thriving commercial hub was completely eut off from the outside world, and Janssen surely witnessed the disastrous effects on a city that was held hostage even in the years to corne as the Scheldt remained closed by the Dutch insurgents. After completing his training in ltaly (1598-1602), he returned to an Antwerp that was slowly starting to recover from the fall-out of the reconquest by the Spaniards. ln 1602, Abraham became a master in the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke and married into a family of art dealers. 1 The iconography of Scaldis andAntverpia captures the quiddity of the Antwerp art market during the sixteenth century. The survival of the Antwerp artistic communitywas dependent on favorable economic conditions and long-distance trade which allowed artistic talent to settle and thrive in the city. From this perspective, the composition was a genuine allegory of hope in which the pain ter adequately captured the city's mood at the end of an extremely troubled era. Janssen completed this scene in 1609, the end-date 1 have chosen for this study. lndeed, with the signing of the Twelve-Year Truce on April 9, 1609, the long sixteenth century, during which Antwerp experienced unprecedented expansion but also had to bear the burden of war and economic crisis, came to a close. 1 He married Sara Goetkint, daughter of Peter Goetkint and Catharina De Palermo. I will return to the figure of Peter Goetkint in Chapter 2, sub 6 when his activities as an art dealer will be discussed. Jane Turner, ed. The Dictionary ofArt (London, 1996), vol. 17, s.v. "Abraham Janssen," by Joost Van der Auwera; Jos Van den Branden, Geschiedenis der Antwerpsche schilderschool (Antwerpen, 1883), 478-482.



The painters, sculptors and other artists of Antwerp did not escape the whirlwinds of history either. About 1450, the Antwerp art market was one oflimited proportions and influence. Few Antwerp masters held the prestige that their counterparts in Bruges did; works of art were commissioned mostly by local patrons, and the volume was undoubtedly small. At this time, Antwerp was just one of the many towns that produced art in the Southern Netherlands, and certainly not the most prominent one. In marked contrast, by 1550, the Antwerp art market had undergone a profound transformation and impressive expansion both in scope and importance. Counting manywell-organized proto-industrial workshops that produced directly for the market, Antwerp was now the undisputed center for the production and distribution of artwork in the Southern Netherlands and exported art to most of the known world. Antwerp's altarpieces, paintings, tapestries, books and various other luxury items found their way to an area stretching from Seville in the south to Gdansk in the north, and across the Atlantic to the Americas. Art had become a commodity and was marketed year-round by professional art dealers who handled large orders to be shipped abroad. The Antwerp art market had become in a relatively short period of time one of the most modern in Europe, and it is precisely this radical transformation and expansion beginning at the end of the fifteenth century and continuing throughout the sixteenth century that forms the subject of this book. I will primarily focus on the market for painting, not just for pragmatic reasons, but also because it constituted one of the most significant segments of the Antwerp art scene. Nevertheless, the trade in sculpture, tapestries, books, prints and other applied arts will be addressed in various chapters in attempt to provide a balanced survey of the developments of the art market as a whole. Historiography

The Antwerp art market of the sixteenth century has not been the subject of a comprehensive study, although the last decade or so has witnessed a renewed interest in the relationship between art and economics in the Low Countries during Early Modern times. 2 Already in 1976, Lorne Campbell produced an important survey on the Netherlandish art market in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, but

2 The ground-breaking study remains Hanns Floerke, Studien zur Niederlandishen Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte: Die Formen des Kunsthandels, das Atelier, und die Sammler in den Niederlanden von 15.-18. jahrhundert (Munich and Leipzig, 1905), but after a silence of many decades, several important publications have appeared. Very recently, the 2001 conference volume of the Instituto Internationale Di Storia Economica "F. Datini" centered on the relationship between art and economics: Economia e Arte. Sec. XIII-XVIII (Prato, 2002). Other noteworthy publications include Michael North and David Ormrod, eds. Art Markets in Europe, 1400-1800 (Aldershot, Brookfield (USA), Singapore and Sydney, 1998); Maximiliaan Martens, "De dialoog tussen artistieke traditie en vernieuwing," in Brugge en de Renaissance. van Memling tot Pourbus, exhib. cat. Memlingmuseum and St. Johns Hospital (Bruges, 1998); Maryan Ainsworth, "The Business of Art: Patrons, Clients, and the Art Markets," in Maryan Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen, eds. From van Eyck to Bruegel. Early Netherlandish Painting in the Metropolitan Museum ofArt, exhib. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 1998), 23-38; Neil De Marchi and Hans Van Miegroet, "Novelty and Fashion Circuits in the Mid-Seventeenth Century Antwerp-Paris Art Trade,"



it was not until the (lare) eighties, when John Michael Montias started publishing a series of books and articles in which he examines the economic aspects of Dutch painting in the seventeenth century, that historians and art historians were intrigued by this kind of interdisciplinary research. 3 Montias invigorated and to some degree redefined the field. His research was often based on the study of a variety of primary sources, including probate inventories preserved in the archives of Delft and Amsterdam. A particularly fruitful contribution has been what is now referred to as the "Montias innovation thesis:" by introducing the concepts of product and process innovation in painting, new light was shed on the impact of economic factors on arr. 4 In a nutshell, process innovation denotes a lowering of production costs without changing the basic appearance and nature of the (artistic) object. ln Netherlandish workshops that focused on painting and carved altarpieces, cost-cutting strategies could entail division of labor, countless reproductions of a particular composition, and the use of cheaper or fewer raw matcrials such as pigments. Product innovation generates an entirely new commodity or profoundly changes the appearance of an existing product. ln the context of art history, this could have resulted in a new genre in painting, or simply a completely new art form. Economie historians since then have indeed devoted much attention to art history, and overall, this approach has had an enriching effect on the study of Netherlandish art. The intensified interest in the art market füs into the general trend towards more interdisciplinary research. This approach found an early culmination in the publication of a collection of essays that explored the interaction between history and art history edited by Jan de Vries and David Freedberg. 5 A great score of books and articles have since followed, scrutinizing various facets of the art market. Many scholars have made valuable contributions to the field of Flemish and Dutch art. For instance, Ad Van der Woude was the first to attempt to quantify the total volume of paintings produced in the Dutch Republic, Raymond Van Uytven

journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies," 28 (1998): 201-246; Lynn Jacobs, Early Netherlandish Carved Altarpieces, 1380-1550. Medieval Tastes and Mass Marketing (Cambridge, New York and Melbourne, 1998); John Michael Momias, Le marché de l'art aux Pays-Bas, XVe-XVIIe siècles (Paris, 1996); Marten Jan Bok, Vraag en aanbod op de Nederlandse kunstmarkt, 1580-1700 (Utrecht, 1994); and Arnout Balis, "Mercado del arte en Flandes en el siglo XVII," in Rubens y su siglo, exhib. cat. Museo de San Carlos (Mexico Ciry, 1998), 39-45. In addition, the central theme of the 1999 volume of the Nederlands Kunsthistorisch ]aarboek focused on "Art for the Market." 3 Lorne Campbell, "The Art Market in the Southern Netherlands in the Fifteemh Century," Burlington Magazine 118 (1976): 188-198. John Michael Montias, Artists and Artisans in Delft: A Socio-Economic Study of the Seventeenth Century (Princeton, 1982); Idem, "Cost and Value in Seventeenth Century Dutch Art," Art History 10 (1987): 455-466; Idem, "Socio-Economic Aspects of Netherlandish Art from the Fifteemh to the Seventeenth Cemury: A Survey," Art Bulletin 72173 (1990): 358-373; Idem, "Le marché de l'art aux Pays-Bas, XVe et XVIe siècles," Annales ESC(! 993): 1541-1563. In 1972, Michael Baxandall had already paved the way with his stimulating work on the commercial practice of the early Renaissance picture trade in ltaly: Michael Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy. A Primer in the Social History ofPictorial Style (Oxford, 1972). 4 John Michael Montias, "The Influence of Economie Factors on Sryle," De zeventiende eeuw 6 (1990): 49-57; Idem, "Cast and Value," 456. 5 David Freedberg and Jan De Vries eds., Art in History. History in Art. Studies in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Culture (Santa Monica, 1991).



investigated the correlation between artistic output and the state of the economy of the Burgundian Netherlands, and Marten Jan Bok examined the structure of supply and demand for painting in the Dutch Republic. 6 Nowadays, every respectable exhibition catalogue dealing with art from the Low Countries will devote one or more essays to the social and economic background of the period, acknowledging the impact economics may have had on the style, form and content of works of art. Definitions of "the Market" and "Commercialization''

When contemplating this rich harvest of scholarly publications, it is astonishing that the term "market" has permeated academic discourse to the extent that it has, very much the same way it has infiltrated most other aspects of Western society. These days, virtually every publication on Netherlandish art will include at least a pro forma reflection on the market. As a result, the term has become increasingly elusive as it becomes more (over)used, and therefore more effort needs to be made to determine a clear and pragmatic description of the term, yet most definitions offered do not do justice to the complexity of the art market. In Early Modern times, the art market or any other market could, according to Richard Swendberg, denote either the physical marketplace, the gathering at such a place, the legal right to hold a meeting at the marketplace, or buying and selling in general. Economists have focused on the price-setting fonction of the market as the key to the allocation of resources in any given economy. 7 Economie sociologists, on the other hand, have described the market as the arena in which various types of "exchange" take place, and as such they emphasize that the market is a societal phenomenon rather than a purely commercial one. In my view, it is essential to consider the meaning of the term "market" carefully, especially when examining this phenomenon during the sixteenth century which was precisely the time when works of art made their grand entry into the realm of market economics. For pragmatic purposes, I have defined the art market as the arena in which works of art are transferred from producer to consumer, either directly or through a dealer. ln this environment, the buyer can either commission the work of art or purchase it on the open market. 8 ln the context of this book, it is important to distinguish between the distinct markets for art which existed simultaneously during the sixteenth century: on the one hand, the so-called "high art" consisting of high-quality and th us expensive items;

6 Ad Van der Woude, "De schilderijproduktie in Holland tijdens de Republiek. Een poging rot kwantificatie," in Kunst-zaken. Particulier initiatiefen overheidsbeleid in de wereld van de beeldende kunst, eds. J.C. Dagevos, P.G. Van Druenen, et al. (Kampen, 1991), 18-50 and 286-297; Raymond Van Uytven, "Speldour or Wealth: Art and Economy in the Burgundian Netherlands," Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society 10 (1992): 101-124; Bok, Vraag en aanbod 7 Richard Swendberg, "Markets as Social Structures," in The Handbook ofEconomie Sociology, eds. N.J. Smelser and Richard Swendberg (Princeton and New York, 1994), 255. 8 For an alternative but not dissimilar definition of"art market," see Dictionary ofArt, vol. 1, s.v. "Art Market," by Bruce Tattersall.



and a market for cheaper, inferior paintings on the other hand. The works of art that belonged to the first category were almost exdusively commissioned by local or foreign elites and institutions, while the low end of the Antwerp art market tended to be fueled by serial production offered for sale on the open market and which attracted a more socially diverse clientele. 9 To be clear, this study does not concern itself directly with the sumptuous altarpieces by Metsijs, the exquisite Bruegel scenes, or the refined Italianate Floris paintings that were commissioned by the Antwerp elites and wealthy guilds or confraternities. I will primarily focus on the low end of the Antwerp art market, in other words, on those works of art that were produced at the initiative of the artist and his workshop, and which ended up on the anonymous open market. 10 In Antwerp, this section of the art trade was hugely important. Lorne Campbell has daimed that "probably a small proportion of pictures were commissioned" in the Southern Netherlands, and I will argue that this assumption certainly applies to the artistic output in the city on the River Scheldt. 11 In addition to the large volume of freemarket sales, the process of commercialization in itself was very significant since it fundamentally affected the way art was produced, distributed and consumed. Thus, works of art soon turned into commodities and became part of the regular international trade circuit. Focusing on painting and to some degree on other artistic branches, I will contend that the Antwerp art market was highly commercialized, probably more so than elsewhere (Chapter 6). In this study, commercialization has been defined as art that was produced on spec, in other words, for the open market rather than on commission. When surveying the existing historiography, we notice that many of the innovations and developments relative to the way art was produced, traded and consumed have been attributed to seventeenth century Holland. For example, one may get the impression from the literature at hand that the commercialization of art was a purely Dutch phenomenon. Was Holland truly the cradle of serialized production and market sales of works of art? Did a class of professional art dealers emerge in Holland first? A prime reason for this assumption has been quite simply that the Dutch Republic has received more scholarly attention and therefore has been more thoroughly researched. However, I will argue that the roots of the commercialization of art can be found in the Southern Netherlands during the sixteenth century, and more specifically in - to quote Larry Silver - the capital of capitalism, the city of Antwerp at a time when it had become the undisputed artistic center of the Southern Netherlands. 12 9 This division is somewhat arbitrary; some works of art produced for the open market were of a high quality indeed, and fetched reasonably high prices, but ail in ail, the two different market segments adhered to different modes of production and distribution, and were aimed at a different clientele. Neil De Marchi and Hans Van Miegroet, "Art, Value and Market Practices in the Netherlands in the Seventeenth Century," The Art Bulletin 76 (1994): 453. 10 As such, commercialized copies and pictures in the style of the leading artists of Antwerp must be included in this approach. 11 Campbell, "The Art Market," 194. 12 Larty Silver, "Pieter Bruegel in the Capital of Capitalism," Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek47 (1996): 125-153.



Periodization and Approach ln the first part of my book, 1 will survey the emergence of Antwerp as one of the most important art markets in Europe during the long sixteenth century. The vicissitudes of the art market can be broken down roughly into three distinct phases. ln an initial period of expansion, from 1490 to 1540, Antwerp established itself as a major center for the production and distribution of paintings (Chapter 1). The number of artists present in the city increased dramatically, largely due to substantial immigration. The second phase starts with the establishment of a new and modern art gallery in the new bourse in 1540, which marks the consolidation of Antwerp as a permanent international market for painting where interested buyers and sellers could meet year-round. The beginning of the end of this era of growth came with the outburst of iconoclasm in 1566, an event which ignited the Dutch Revolt. The following twenty years marked a period of stagnation and decline which ultimately led to the collapse of the art market in 1585 (Chapter 2). There is very little evidence of activity pertaining to the art trade during the first decade following 1585, and it appears that conditions did not improve substantially until the years leading up to the signing of the Twelve-Year Truce in 1609 (Chapter 3). ln general, 1 have opted to follow the subsequent stages of growth and decline of the Antwerp economy during the sixteenth century as they have been outlined by the economic historian Herman Van der Wee. 13 This approach allows for an examination of the relationship between the vicissitudes of the overall economic conditions and the state of the art market. ln doing so, 1 will be able to address the question of how closely the art market followed the cycle of the economy as a whole. The general historical context (including the political and militaty events) is discussed insofar as it helps to understand and explain the dynamics of a rapidly-changing art market. Furthermore, 1 am not concerned with art-historical interpretations of the art that was produced in Antwerp during the sixteenth century. The fascinating development of the Antwerp school of painting will th us be discussed in terms of its impact on the art market. The second, interpretative part of the book will be devoted to an analysis of the supply and demand factors on the Antwerp art market. ln Chapter 4, the various inputs that make up the supply-side will be evaluated, devoting considerable attention to the artist's workshop and the regulatory environment as it was determined by the Guild of Saint Luke. Next, 1 will discuss the importance of the demand factor for the expansion of the Antwerp art market - both domestically and internationally - and examine the role of religious and civic institutions as well as private patronage (Chapter 5). How artistic production and marketing of art in Antwerp was shaped and impacted by the forces of supply and demand, forms the subject of Chapter 6.

13 Herman Van der Wee, The Growth of the Antwerp Market and the European Economy (Fourteenth-Sixteenth Centuries) (The Hague, 1963), vol. 2.



Besicles investigating the correlation with the general economic trend, I will focus on the mechanisms of distribution of works of art. In other words, who was selling art in Antwerp, when and where? An artist active in Antwerp during the sixteenth century could market his wares in a number of ways. The traditional practice to obtain a work of art was undoubtedly through the various kinds of patronage, which will be discussed in Chapter 5. However, given the prominence of free-market sales in the city, I will concentrate on those channels which catered to the selling of on spec-produccd paintings, carved altarpieces, retables, tapestries, musical instruments and other luxury goods. First of all, an artist could market the fruits of his labor directly from his studio or shop. Unfortunately, evidence documenting this kind of immediate trading is very scarce. Nevertheless, this was potentially an important medium for art sales, as the probate inventories of most painters and art dealers (to the extent that they have been preserved) sometimes mention a shop which was located on the groun1578 d. 1583

Gillis Vinckboons


Anna De Heere

d. 1567

Marten Alleyns


Peter De Vos

Johanna Bijns

Margriet Alleyns d. >1613


Barbara De Vos

Anna De Vos

Marten De Vos

Pieter De Vos

b. - 1530 d.>1591

Abraham Liesaert b. 1555 d. 1595

FIGURE 12: Marten Alleyns Family Tree.

Given her family background and close ties with the artistic milieu, becoming an art dealer must have corne naturally to Barbara Alleyns. At the time of their marriage, Marten had just enlarged his workshop by taking on two new apprentices, which may have prompted Barbara to become actively involved in the art trade. It is conceivable that she maintained the shop at the schilderspandwhile Marten managed his busy atelier. Unfortunately, evidence of only one transaction survived where Barbara is known to have bought pictures. On December 18, 1581, she purchased some paintings from the estate of the late Jan Van Kessel, whose son Willem worked in the Alleyns atelier. t 5o Despite her somewhat low profile, there is little doubt that Barbara

147 On Abraham Liesaert, see Van Roey, "Een Antwerpse schildersdynastie," 94, n. 47 and 98-99. 148 Barbara D e Vos was born around 1530 and was still alive in April of 1591. S.A.A., N. 1332 (Notary Dries), no fol. (document dated April 17, 1591); Van Roey, "Een Antwerpse schildersdynastie," 87. l have not been able to trace the exact date of the marriage ofMarten Alleyns and Barbara De Vos. Most likely this is due to the fact that they did not marry in a Catholic church (see below). 149 T he Liesaerts, of course, were a large family of artists and art dealers. Van Roey, "Een Antwerpse schildersdynastie," 86-88. On the De Vos family, see Armin Zweite, Marten De Vos ais Maler. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Antwerpener Malerei in der zweite Hiilfte des 16. jahrhunderts (Berlin, 1980), 19-20. 150 lt is, of course, entirely possible and quite probable that she was active as an art dealer much earlier, during her first marriage with Peter Liesaert, but I could not find any proof which would substantiate such a d aim. S.A.A., l\. 1478, no fol. (document dated December 18, 1581 ).





was very active as an art dealer. When her husband died in 1583, Barbara stepped into the foreground and declared that, from now on, she would run the Alleyns family art trade single-handedly (see note 158). Sometime after 1573, Marten moved into a house called Den Blommaert, situated on the corner of the Kammenstraat and the Lombardenvest (see Figure 3, p. 22) . 151 Moving into this neighborhood certainly meant a step up socially and economically as the Lombardenvest constituted one of the artistic nerve centers of Antwerp (see below). Den Blommaertmust have been the home of a substantial atelier, and possibly also housed a small shop on the ground floor. Another indication of Marten's rising social status lies in the fact that he became a dean of the Guild of Saint Luke in 1576 and again in 1577. 152 The Alleynses did very well indeed; in 1580, for instance, Marten supplied a fairly large shipment of oil paintings (valued at 120 guilders) to his fellow art dealer Jacques Van de Wyere who subsequently exported these and other pictures to Châlons, France. 153 Their successes allowed the Alleynses to acquire more real estate in 1582, when they purchased the back section of a house also located on the Lombardenvest. 154 The timing of these accomplishments may seem odd at first. After all, the late 1570s were nota time of a booming economy, and Antwerp was still recovering from the ravages of the Spanish Fury. Nevertheless, as 1 will argue in Chapter 2, sub 6, it is often in rimes of crisis that the art trade can flourish, as many families who were strapped for cash disposed of their art collections. However, in the case ofMarten and Barbara Alleyns, there may be another factor at play. When we scrutinize the social web surrounding Marten Alleyns, a common denominator presents itself in the religious beliefs of the people around him: his wife's family was Lutheran, as were his daughter Magriet and son-in-law Abraham Liesaert, and his step-son Gillis Vinckboons. 155 Therefore, it is probably not too far-fetched to assume that not only Barbara De Vos adhered to the Lutheran faith, but Marten as well. ln fact, Marten should be placed in the Protestant camp by default - how else could he have become dean of the Guild at a time when Catholics were banned from holding such highranking official positions? 156 ln sum, being a Protestant during the era of Calvinist domination of Antwerp (1577-1585) may have aided - or at least did not prevent -

151 At least until early Summer of that year, he was still residing in a house located in the Gasthuisbeemden (presently the Leopoldstraat), even though Marten was mentioned twice in documents from the late 1560s as part-owner of the house on the Lombardenvest. S.A.A., C.B. 35, fol. 199r (document dated June 30, 1573); Robert Vande Weghe, Geschiedenis van de Antwerpse straatnamen (Antwerp, 1977), 292. 152 Liggeren, 261-262. 153 S.A.A., C.B. 41, fol. 426v (document dated June 6, 1580). See below. 154 They bought this property from Babara's sister Anna De Vos. S.A.A., S.R. 368, fol. 99v (document datedJuly 10, 1582). 155 The painter Marten De Vos was, of course, a notorious Lurheran. Van Roey, "Een Antwerpse schildersdynastie," 98; Idem, "De Antwerpse schilders," 125. 156 In addition, after 1581, Catholics were removed from the city council. On the presence of Lutherans in Antwerp, see Marnef, "Brabants calvinisme;" E.M. Braekman, "Het Lutheranisme in Antwerpen," Bijdragen tot de Geschiedenis 70 (1987): 23-38.




his success in business and his 'promotion' to dean. When Marten Alleyns died only months after his shop burned clown at the schilderspand in 1583, he was still able to leave 2,208 guilders to Magriet, the daughter from his first marriage. 157 This amount suggests that while the Alleynses were not wealthy, they certainly belonged to the more affluent middle class. As mentioned earlier, Barbara, who inherited the rest of their possessions, vowed to continue the art dealing business and lived at least until 1591.158 The probate inventory that was drawn up at the timc of Martcn's dcath reeals some additional fascinating information about the Alleyns family business. Marten Alleyns still owed various sums to three tafereelmakers. Hans Verachtert (120 guilders), Jacques Luysens (22 guilders 6 stivers) and Peter Verhaecht (13 guilders). 159 ln addition, he was expected to pay a small sum to a gilder, and he owed 3 guilders 10 stivers to Jan De Prince for a painting. 160 Lastly, 12 guilders needed to be paid to Michiel Cock for a supply of paint. ln other words, Marten had not just pupils working for him but a number of panel makers and at least one painter, and thus had set up a profitable family business. lt is very likely that Alleyns, and especially his wife, handled the marketing of part or ail of the paintings produced by his own workshop and other artists. Of course, the Alleynses had the outlets and the connections to do so, not in the least through their shop at the schilderspand. 161 2.4.3 Sorne Observations on the Community of Art Dealers in Antwerp The example of Marten and Barbara Alleyns tentatively suggests the profile of art dealers in Antwerp during the second half of the sixteenth century. First of ail, the kind of people who made up the intricate network of family, friends and business associates that surrounded the Alleynses indicates that they were well integrated in the Antwerp artistic milieu. Through his marriage with Barbara De Vos, Marten Alleyns was able to strengthen his ties with both artists and dealers and especially with the Lutherans among them. The fact that they owned a house in the Lombardenvest illustrates the position of the Alleyns family within this artistic community. The area comprising the Kammenstraat, the Steenhouwersvest and the Lombardenvest

157 S.A.A., N. 1478, no fol. (document dated June 1583). Magriet was assisted at the notary by her husband Abraham Liesaert, also an art dealer. 158 In April 1591, Barbara solda rente to Hans Theullier. S.A.A., N. 1332, no fol. (document dated April 17, 1591). 159 AJan Luyttsen was registered as tafereelmakerin the Guild in 1575, and a Peter Van Haecht, also tafereelmaker, took on an apprentice (Cornelis Van Haesbroeck) in 1580. For further information on the Van Haecht family, see Jan Van Roey, "Het Antwerpse geslacht Van Haecht (Verhaecht). Tafereelmakers, schilders, kunsthandelaars," in Miscellania Jozef Du verger. Bijdragen tot de kunstgeschiedenis der Nederlanden (Ghent, 1968), vol 1, 216-229. Hans Verachtert is not listed in the Guild records or in Van Mander. Liggeren, 255 and 275. 160 Jan De Prince registered as pain ter in 1551, rook on two pupils in 1561 and became a dean in 1579. Liggeren, 175, 227 and 267. 161 S.A.A., N. 1478, no fol. (document datedJune 1583).





was foremost the city's printing center, but many other artisans and artists resided in this area. Families involved in these professions were historically drawn to this neighborhood given its direct access to Our Lady's pand 162 As such, this part of the city provided many opportunities for art dealers. Secondly, there can be little doubt that Marten Alleyns' inclusion in Protestant circles during the reign of the Calvinists in Antwerp buttressed his career. Being a Lutheran during the late 1570s in Antwerp made him acceptable as a dean of the Guild. Moreover, his business thrived as the Alleyns workshop expanded seemingly unimpeded at a time when the pernicious effects of the Eighty Years' War were felt daily in the city on the river Scheldt as Spanish armies were gearing up to launch the reconquista of the Southern Netherlands. However, we should be cautious not to overemphasize the religious component in measuring the success or failure of individual art dealers. Sorne other dealers went about their business regardless of the dominant religion. In fact, this was precisely the time that many individuals, mostly artists, turned to art dealing to make a living in these difficult years, and certainly not all of them were Protestant. Bartholomeus De Momper, for instance, held the important post ofpandmeesterof the painters' gallery throughout the sixties, seventies, eighties and part of the nineties, clearly not in the least bit affected by the changing fortunes of competing religions in Antwerp. 163 Third, the multitude of women-dealers active in Antwerp during the sixteenth century may surprise the contemporary observer. After all, here we are confronted with a city in which women were not only involved in commerce, but even in the noble art of painting itself. Catharina Van Hemessen, daughter of the accomplished painter Jan Van Hemessen, serves as a telling example of a woman who became a successful painter in her own right. Her skills in the visual arts were even noticed (albeit not in an overly praising fashion) by Guicciardini and Vasari, even if their comments were imbedded in typical late-medieval discourse and attitudes towards women. 164 Women appear to have enjoyed an unusual freedom of movement in sixteenthcentury Antwerp. Moreover, in sharp contrast with their counterparts in Southern Europe, Guicciardini was particularly struck by the knack for business Netherlandish women displayed: 165

162 On the Lombardenvest as a printing cemer, see Van der Stock, Printing Images, 60-69. This part of the city was located in the prosperous sixth wijk or ward and was adjacent to the old city cemer. For an imeresting discussion on the administrative and religions partitions of the city and their respective social-economic make-up, see An Kim, The Community of Commerce, 137-146, which includes several useful bibliographical references as well. 163 The religions conviction of Bartholomeus De Momper, if indeed he is to be placed imo one of the two camps, is not known. 164 Nationaal Biografisch Woordenboek (Brussels, 2002), vol. 16, "Catharina Van Hemessen,"s.v. by Karolien De Clippel; Idem, "Catharina Van Hemessen," in Elek zijn waerom. Vrouwelijke kunstenaars in België en Nederland

1500-1950, eds. Katlijne Van der Stighelen and Mirjam Westen, exhib. cat. Antwerp, Royal Museum of Fine Arts (Bruges, 1999): 133-137. 165 Guicciardini, Beschrijvinghe, 29.




Zy zijn seer sober, besich ende altijdt wat doende, beschickende niet alleenlijck huyswerck ende huyshoudinghe, daer de mans hen lutte! met becommeren. (... ) Maer onderwinden haer oock met coopmanschap, in 't coopen ende vercoopen: ende zijn neerstig in de weere met hant ende tonghe in hanteeringhe die den mans eyghentlijck aengaen.

They are very modest, always busy, not onlywith domestic tasks and the household, since husbands are little involved with that. (... ) But they also engage in commerce, in the buying and selling: and vigorouslywork with their hands and tangues in trade which is actually a man's business.

The perceived liberties women could take in Southern Netherlandish society should not corne as a total surprise. Martha Howell has convincingly argued that women performed a crucial role in the cities of northwestern Europe where the household was the cornerstone of highly-developed market economies. By taking on certain economic activities such as the selling of the goods produced by the family, women actively participated in what has been labeled the "family production unit." Consequently, in order to perform these economic tasks, they acquired certain legal powers independent from their spouses. 166 For instance, in sixteenth-century Antwerp, women could mortgage assets, own property and enter into business ventures. When we look at female art dealers like Barbara De Vos and Adriana De Hollander, it is clear that they fit nicely into the Howell model of the family production unit. A particular type of division of labor existed in these household economies: while the husband-painter produced pictures in his workshop, the wife (coopwijfas Adriana was called) would market the finished paintings at one of the panden. These women even solidified their position as independent dealers when they became widowed and were in a position to assume full control of the business. Fourthly, despite the novelty of their profession, art dealers in sixteenthcentury Antwerp were well-organized and collaborated with each other frequendy. When the art dealer Jacques Van de Wyere was approached by the French merchant Anthony Pontheus to deliver a very substantial number of pictures, he called on several ofhis colleagues and painters to help put together this shipment. The painter and art dealer François Provost produced a certain number of oil paintings on panel, the art dealer Hans Bulincx supplied several canvases, and our old acquaintance Marten Alleyns delivered oil paintings on panel as well. 167 Transactions like these point to a

166 Martha C. Howell, Women, Production, and Patriarchy in Late Medieval Cities (Chicago and London, 1986), 1-20 and 27-30. Guicciardini, of course, comments on the freedom of Netherlandish women because in his homeland, Italy, women did not take an active part in the family production unit, but stuck to domestic tasks and their role as child bearers. As a result, they had fewer independent legal rights and a lower status compared to women in the north, and this was particularly the case for single women. See Monica Chojnacka, "Singlewomen in Early Modern Venice. Communities and Opportunities," in Singlewomen in the European Past, 1250-1800, eds. Judith M. Bennet and Amy M. Froide (Philadelphia, 1998), 217-235. 167 S.A.A., C.B. 41, fol. 426v (document dated June 6, 1580). The shipment had a rotai value of 1,437 guilders





strikingly high level of cooperation among Antwerp art dealers. Van Mander recalls several other instances where painters produced directly for art dealers. For instance, the accomplished landscape painter Gillis van Coninxloo (1544-1607) "worked a great deal for merchants who exported his works everywhere." 168 Of the painter Gillis Congnet (ca. 1535-1599), Van Mander said that he made "manyworks, particularly canvases and scenes, sometimes employing Cornelis Molenaer, or cross-eyed Neel as they call him, to paint his grounds or backgrounds. [Congnet] worked for merchants a lot and became very famous." 169 These examples and the Alleyns case has shown that a kind of putting-out system had become commonplace by the 1570s, denoting a mature and sophisticated art market that featured a degree of professionalization scarcely seen elsewhere. 170 Lasdy, we have very litde information relative to the net earnings of art dealers. While coundess documents survived which give us an indication how much the consumer ultimately paid for a work of art, it is very rare to find a due of what percentage of the price went to the intermediary. An exceptional document which provides an indication of an art dealers' commission dates from 1582. The widow of Hieronymus Cock, Volcxken Diericx, called on Bartholomeus De Momper to sell a set of prints and maps. A detailed list of the different items was drawn up which included a target price for individual prints, and the stipulation that De Momper would pick up a commission of five percent if he sold them to other art dealers. Should he succeed in vending them direcdy to private customers, he could sell them to the highest bidder and keep the additional profit. 171 Besicles the fact that five percent seems a rather modest eut, it is noteworthy that a distinction was made between wholesale and retail marketing. Perhaps this points to an unwritten code of conduct between art dealers, one which prevents making a large profit at the expense of colleagues, and rather stimulates close cooperation.

* * *

and also included some alabaster works. François Provoost was registered as a painter in the Guild in 1558, but Hans Bulincx does not appear in Guild records. Jacques Van de Wyere registered as a painter in 1554, but art dealing soon became his primary profession; in 1582, he was appointed dean of the Guild. Liggeren, 187, 207 and 280. 168 Van Mander lauded Van Coninxloo as the premier landscape painter ofhis time. Van Mander, Lives, vol l, 330 (fol. 268r). On the life and works of Gillis Van Coninxloo, see Hans Vlieghe, Flemish Art and Culture 15851700 (Hong Kong, 1998), 175-176 and 312 for further bibliographical references. 169 Van Mander, Lives, vol 1, 306 (fol. 262r). On Gillis Congnet, see Leo Wuyts, "Gillis Congnet," in Vtm Bruegel tot Rubens. De Antwerpse schilderschool, 1550-1650, exhib. cat. Antwerp, Royal Museum of Fine Arts (Ghent, 1992), 306. 170 As was mentioned earlier, Marten had at least one painter and several panel makers working for him, while his wife Barbara handled the distribution aspects of the Alleyns firm. 171 The text of this contract was published in extenso in Van der Stock, Printing Images in Antwerp, 406-408; Lydia De Pauw-De Veen, "Archivalische gegevens over Volcxken Diericx, weduwe van Hieronymus Cock," in Bijdragen tot de geschiedenis van de grafische kunst, opgedragen aan prof dr. Louis Lebeer ter gelegenheid van zijn tachtigste verjaardag(Antwerp, 1975), 245-247.




Much study still remains to be clone relating to the origins, socio-economic background, and professional activitics of thcsc art dealers who played an instrumental role in the professionalization of the Antwerp art market, but it has become clear that a sizable group of professional dealers emerged in Antwerp during the second half of the sixteenth century. Their precise number is impossible to ascertain, not so much because the archiva! documents are stingy with information, but because very few of them were singularly active as art dealers. Most, like Marten Alleyns and Bartholomeus De Momper, continue15 ................. 27.4 ........ 22 ... . in terms of paintings, 90 percent of the probate inSOURCE: Source: Blondé and Vermeylen, "A ventories in Antwerp included pictures, compared taste for Bruegel?" in print. 31 to 66 percent for Metz and 67 percent for Delft. 32 The reasons behind this discrepancy must be sought in a combination of the breadth of the Antwerp middle class (which Van der Wee stresses) and the availability of abundant, inexpensive, ready-made pictures in the city.

class. The discussion surrounding the social polarization remains unresolved, but neither scholar would deny the existence of a large art-consuming class in Antwerp. Hugo Soly, "Sociale relaties in Antwerpen tijdens de 16de en 17de eeuw," in Verhaal van een metropoo~ ed. Jan Van der Stock (Antwerp, 1993), 38-39; Van der Wee, Growth, vol. 2, 194-198 and 389-406. 29 Balis, "Genres en burgerijk mecenaat," 240; Bernd Roeck, Kunstpatronage in der Frühen Neuzeit. Studien zu Kunstmarkt, Künstlern und ihren Auftraggebern in Italien und im Heiligen Riimischen Reich, 15. -17. jahrhundert (Gottingen, 1999), 35-64. 30 Hendrickx, Het schilderijbezit, Appendix. The research into the material culture (mostly based on probate inventories) of the Low Countries during the Ancien Régime is in full swing. Useful introductions include John Loughman and John Michael Montias, Public and Private Spaces. Works ofArt Seventeenth-Century Dutch Houses (Zwolle, 2000); Bruno Blondé, "Art and Economy in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Antwerp: a view from the Demand Side," in Economia et arte. Secc. XIII-XVIII (Prato, 2002), 377-392. Also, the 2000 issue (vol. 51) of the Nederlands Kunsthistorisch ]aarboek was devoted to "The Art of Home in the Netherlands, 1500-1800." 31 Since we do not have any information regarding the income and overall wealth of the testators, I have counted the number of rooms of each inventory in order to get at least a sense of the social category of these households. For a more detailing methodology concerning these categories, see Blondé and Vermeylen, "A Taste for Bruegel?" note 20. 32 The figures for Delft and Metz were calculated for the seventeenth century. Hendrickx, Het schilderijenbezit, 112-114; Montias, Artists and Artisans, 220; Philip Benedict, "Towards the Comparative Study of the Popular Market for Art: The Ownership of Paintings in Seventeenth-Century Metz," Past and Present 109 (1985): 105.




Fortunately, the subject matter of these TABLE 16: Composition ofMedian Painting paintings is known in 1,289 cases (83 percent of Ownership According to Subject C:ategory in ail paintings). As could be expected, with almost Antwerp Probate Inventories (1565-1585) 33 62 percent, religious topics represent the lion's share Religion ................................ 61.7% .. . of the Antwerp collections, but the presence of a Portrait ................................. 17.9% .. . large variety of additional genres in this sample is Antiquity and Mythology ....... 5.3% .. . Genre ...................................... 4.7o/o .. . noteworthy nonetheless. For instance, painted Landscape ............................... 3.8% .. . portraits were among the most popular items ordeStill-life ................................... 34 3.8% .. . red from Antwerp artists. The commercial classes Allegory .................................. 2.5% .. . in particular appear to have been keen on having History ................................... 1.6% .. . their portraits made; there are numerable examples Other ...................................... 1.1% of established local and foreign merchants whose portraits still exist at present. 35 The taste for portraits was not confined to depictions of the purchaser's own family mcmbcrs, though; images of contemporary and deceased rulers such as Charles V and Philip II or the Queen of England could be found on the walls of a burgher's house. 36 Art collections owned by the Antwerp bourgeoisie were not only found in their urban dwellings, they were also on display in their villas on the outskirts of the city as well. ln fact, there were at least 251 of these country houses in a 20 kilometer radius around Antwerp between 1540 and 1600. 37 Sorne of these pleasurable yet high-minded retreats from urban life were quite modest while others were veritable castles, but paintings were a set ingredient among the furnishings in ail of them. Landscapes and peasant scenes formed the topic of many pictures, as well as other themes which were congruent with the air of rusticity surrounding the suburban villa. 38

33 A weighted median was used to compensate for the unequal distribution among the different social categories in the probate inventory sample. First, for every social category, a distribution percentage was calculated. Subesequently, the median of these figures was calculated for every subject category separately. Finally, the results were calculated in percentage terms. Blondé and Vermeylen, "A Taste for Bruegel?", note 22. 34 The 66 or 4.26 percent tronies (heads) found in the inventories were included in the portraiture category, even though some of them no doubt can be counted as genre pieces as well. On the difficulties with respect to the arthistorical categorization of the en tries found in inventories, see Blondé and Vermeylen, "A Taste for Bruegel?". 35 Unfortunately, the majority of these types of burgher-portraits remain unidentified as of yet. 36 According to Katlijne Van der Stighelen, these "historical portraits" were the subject of serial production and thus fairly inexpensive. Katlijne Van der Stighelen, "Burgers en hun portretten," in Stad in Vlaanderen, ed. Jan van der Stock (Brussel, 1991), 143. In addition, see De Clippel, "De Vlaamse portretkunst," 126-129; Hendrickx, Het schilderijenbezit, 95-97;]. Vervaet, "De portretkunst in Antwerpen, 1550-1650," in Van Bruegel tot Rubens. De Antwerpse schilderschoo!, 1550-1650, exhib. cat. Museum of Fine Arts (Antwerp, 1992), 25-27. 37 Roland Baetens, "La "villa rustica", phénomène italien dans le paysage Brabançon au !6ème siècle," in Aspetti della \lita Economia Medievale (Florence, 1985), 171-191. For illustrations of these lusthoven, see Philippe De Cantillion, Les délices du Brabants (Amsterdam, 1757), 3 vols. The art dealer Joris Vezeleer (discussed in Chapter 2, sub 4) also had one ofthese villa's (named Het Lateernhofi built in 1533-1535, located in nearby Deurne. Van Den Kerckhove, "Joris Vezeleer," 330. 38 Claudia Goldstein, "Artefacts of domestic life. Bruegel's paintings in the Flemish home," Nederlands Kunsthistorisch jaarboek 51(2000):184.




This brings us to the possible motivations behind the obviously large-scale acquisition of paintings and other artistic goods. Unless the buyer was an art dealer, financial considerations - art as investment - did not seem to have been a major preoccupation. More importantly, the commercial elites and the middle classes actively sought to enhance and cultivate their status by procuring artwork. Such bourgeois emulation of the nobility was part of a broader pattern of conspicuous consumption which included buying large town houses and an estate in the countryside. This behavior also denoted a new class consciousness, one in which the collecting and appreciation of art was evidence of gentlemanly conduct. 39 ln addition, people sought to own religiously-inspired pictures for private devotional purposes. Depictions of Christ, the apostles, the virgin Mary functioned as abjects of meditation and prayer, and the almighty creator was glorified in naturescenes. Lastly, the acquisition of works of art for purely esthetic and art-historical motivations was slowly but surely gaining ground, which when hand in hand with growing connoisseurship. Collectors found it increasingly fashionable not simply to display a diversified arrangement of pictures, but also to exhibit their expert knowledge about them. 40 5.3 Domestic versus International Demand lt needs to be stressed that the seemingly insatiable demand for luxury goods both in the secular and religious arena was not confined to the Southern Netherlands or ltaly alone, but that this trend took place throughout Europe during the Renaissance. Demand for luxury items grew both quantitatively and qualitatively in all the major nation states in Western Europe. Since Antwerp held such a pivotal position within the European trade network, it was ideally placed to respond to the increasing demand for luxury goods, not just on a regional but international level as well. Judging from the enormous exports, there is no doubt that the foreign component of this demand-led industrywas the predominant one. As 1 will point out in the next chapter, the fact that in the 1560s as many as 300 artists were active in the city, it is virtually impossible that they were producing primarily for the home market, no matter how substantial local and regional consumption undoubtedly was.41 Moreover, the Hundredth Penny tax registers further prove that, even during the slow early forties, art was exported widely. Not even counting tapestries, no fewer than 387 shipments of works of art were registered in the two years spanning 1543-1545. 42

39 Sixteenth-century handbooks for gentlemen emphasized the vitues of patronage, appreciating and collecting works of art. The most well-known of these manuals was Il Cortegiano written by Baldassare Castiglione in 1528. Filipczak, Picturing Art in Antwerp, 54. 40 Hendrickx, Het schilderijenbezit, 75. 41 Dubbe and Vroom, "Mecenaat en kunstmarkt," 13; see Chapter 6. 42 A.R.A.B., R.K. 23358-23364; see Chapter 2, sub 5.




In other words, Antwerp was the venue where supply and demand for luxury goods converged. Countless foreign merchants descended on the city to supply themselves with a variety of luxury items in addition to the more traditional goods such as English cloth, Portuguese pepper or sugar. In other words, the Antwerp economy depended heavily on international trade and Foreign demand for its products, and this was particularly the case for the arts. 43 To facilitate the foreign-demand component, the panden performed the important fonction as intermediary between artist and the ultimate consumer abroad. Starting in the 15 70s when fewer Foreign merchants came to Antwerp, local art dealers would increasingly step in to actively organize the exports themselves in an attempt to safeguard the industry from the loss of foreign markets. One of the implications of these developments was, of course, an increasing commercialization and professionalization of the art trade. These ramifications will be discussed in Chapter 6.


* * Goldthwaite argues that Italy's urban setting was the conditio sine qua non that fueled the Italian art market, but he over-emphasizes the uniqueness of the Italian case. 44 The Southern Netherlands especially rivaled Italy at the level of overall urbanization, even though Italy's urbanized nobility did contribute more to the flowering of the arts than their Netherlandish counterparts. Nevertheless, the Netherlandish landed nobility had a long tradition of collecting art, especially since the Burgundian dukes propagated and legitimized conspicuous consumption at the court. 45 In comparison with Italy then, it does seem reasonable to assume that the Southern Netherlands could not rely on the concentration of urbanized elites, but that this was compensated for by the commercial middle class. In this respect, I propose that the consumption of art (at least in the domain of painting) in the North was fueled primarily by low-end demand, as opposed to more aristocratie conspicuous consumption in Italy. The observation that the ownership of pictures in Antwerp was widespread and not confined to the elites would support such a daim. But probably the salient dissimilarity with the Italian art market in terms of demand might be the weight of the export. The data presented in Chapter 2, sub 5 convincingly highlighted Antwerp's position in the international art trade while even the most prestigious Italian art centers such as Florence, Rome and Venice did not engage in exports of paintings in any systematic fashion.

43 Van der Wee, "Industrial Dynamics," 334. 44 Goldthwaite, Wealth, 99. 45 Also, the consumption ofluxury commodities by the Netherlandish nobility has not been studied thoroughly - certainly by comparison to the Italian case - which accounts for the fact that the impression exists that they were not as involved in luxury consumption. However, collections such as the ones that were put rogether by the Arenberg or de Croy families indicate that the Netherlandish nobility did engage in large-scale collecting.




The differences with the ltalian art market notwithstanding, it is undeniable that demand for artistic goods in Western Europe broadened very distinctly during the period under discussion. Both the institutional buyers and individuals required an ever more diverse pallet of luxury goods to satisfy their needs, and especially the potential for visual images appears to have been bottomless. When the reach of painting expanded beyond the narrow confines of religion (both in terms of subject matter and its designated location for display), the medium was suitable to carry a myriad of meanings and fonctions. Through process and product innovation, new types of pictures other than strictly religious ones could communicate messages containing ideology, psychological elements, social values and political propaganda. 46 These meanings and fonctions saw themselves translated into new genres, many of which came to light in sixteenth-century Antwerp.

46 Goldthwaite, Wealth, 139; Montias, Le marché de l'art, 131.




I will argue in this chapter that the Antwerp art market was highly commercialized at a time when the city had become the undisputed artistic capital of the Southern Netherlands. 1 In keeping with our focus on painting but also drawing on observations in the field of sculpture, I would contend that commercialization of art was especially pronounced in Antwerp compared to other artistic centers. In other words, Antwerp played a pioneering role in the process of commodization of works of art, and in the professionalization of the art trade. Again, commercialization denotes art that was predominantly produced for the open market rather than on commission, and which was sold en masseto a domestic and international clientele (exports being a clear indication of speculative production). 6.1 Introduction

Four elements can be distilled from the previous chapters which support the daim that paintings and altarpieces were produced predominantly for the open market in Antwerp. First of all, the production capacity for works of art was very substantial indeed; it has been estimated that about 300 artists (mostly painters) were active in Antwerp in the 1560s, roughly twice the number ofbakers and three times the number of butchers. 2 Obviously, only a portion of these sufficed to satisfy local demand. In addition, the output of serial production was made possible by the proto-industrial workshops. This high number of artists combined with these efficiently-run ateliers suggests that a significant portion of artistic production in Antwerp must have been intended for foreign markets. Moreover, since Antwerp artists could not depend on the presence of a court and accompanying nobility for commissions, few artists worked in salaried employment as was so often the case in Italy. 3 Instead, not being tied to

1 An earlier version of this chapter was presented at a symposium at the Metropolitan Museum in New York on November 7, 1998. See also Filip Vermeylen, "The Commercialization of Art: Painting and Sculpture in Sixteenthcentury Antwerp," in New Approaches in Early Netherlandish Painting, ed. Maryan Ainsworth (New York, 2001), 82-100. 2 B. Dubbe and WH. Vroom, "Mecenaat en kunstmarkt in de Nederlanden gedurende de zestiende eeuw," in Kunst voor de beeldenstorrn. Catalogus, exhib. cat., Rijksmuseum (The Hague, 1986), 13. 3 Montias, "Le marché de l'art," 1544.




one patron meant that artists were more at liberty to produce at their own initiative and for the open market. This freedom allowed them to better respond to the varying market conditions such as changing fashions and demand for a specific product. Secondly, it is undeniable that a huge portion of paintings and altarpieces that were produced in Antwerp were to a large degree standardized. Form and content often revealed their ready-made nature. Jacobs pointed out that the subject matter of carved altarpieces was conceived to appeal to a myriad ofbuyers: a limited number of popular tapies were being depictcd, and nothing too complicatcd that would discourage potential buyers. For instance, workshops concentrated on including large numbers of popular Passion scenes in the corpus or caisse of the retable. 4 The high level of standardization of the Antwerp retable was to a large extent the direct result of strict quality control measures. As we have seen, the ordinances pertaining the fabrication of the corpus of a carved altarpiece were very precise; the measurements of the caisse and thickness of the boards, in addition to the kind of wood that was acceptable, were all subject to objective standards and verification by guild inspectors. Frequently, a same level of standardization was often found in painting where many copies existed of a particular composition. During the first decades of the sixteenth century, recurring compositions such as Adorations ofthe Magi even became a trademark of the Antwerp Mannerists. These where painted in an easily recognizable style which was in great demand abroad. 5 Moreover, even though there were no formal rules imposed by the Guild of Saint Luke regarding the size of the canvas or panel, it is striking that the greater majority of pictures listed in the inventory of Dire Bijns had the same measurements. A first batch 39 paintings were all of the same size (2.5 Parisian feet long), as did the following 25 pieces (2.5 Parisian feet long). The pictures in Bijns' stock did represent a wide variety in terms of subject matter, but the level of standardization of these export items was certainly significant. 6 Thirdly, the presence of the panden in the city underscores the level of sophistication of the art trade and its high volume. During the first half of the sixteenth century, there were at least a dozen of such sales halls operational in Antwerp, and most of them offered a particular type ofluxury commodity for sale such as tapestries or jewelry. Their very existence supports the assumption that great quantities of works of art were produced for the open market which points to a high level of commercialization. Our Lady's Pandwas undoubtedly the most prominent gallery for the sale of retables and paintings until the middle of the century. Archiva! records provide ample proof that finished and even semi-finished carved altarpieces and paintings were traded in the pand Foreign merchants were compelled to purchase ready-made art for reasons of time and price: there was no waiting period involved, and commis-

4 Jacobs, Early Netherlandish Carved Altarpieces, 54. 5 Van de Velde, "De Schilderkunst," 425 and Vermeylen, "ExportingArt," 18; see Chapter 1, sub 3. 6 78.5 and Il 0 cm, respectively. The clerck indicated rhat all of these were "new" oil paintings executed on canvas; see Appendix 5.




sioned works were as rule more expensive as they tended to display a higher level of specificity and generally included fewer standardized components. 0 ln 1540, the marketing of paintings was further commercialized and facilitated by the inauguration of the schilderspand, a gallery that was open for business yearround. The probate inventory of the primer and art dealer Jan van Kessel provides us with a snapshot of what was actually on sale at the gallery. Besicles a number of miscellaneous items, Van Kessel's shop featured the following merchandise: 119 double canvasses of various sorts, some not finished 13 double canvasses depicting figures from Kortrijk

an old painting on canvas by Jeroen Bosch 477 double canvasses of different sorts 3 printed images by Raphael depicting martyrdom 19 printed sheets by Raphael, Parmigianino and others. 8

If nothing else, this document provides us with an idea of the sheer numbers that were involved in the art trade. According to this list, Van Kessel had no fewer than 610 pictures in stock at the time of his death in 1581 plus a number of prints. Obviously, not all these could be displayed simultaneously within the confines of one shop. The vast majority of the canvasses were probably rolled up which, besicles saving space, enabled easy transportation. The reference to painted figures from Kortrijk becomes meaningful when we consult Het Schilderboeck on this genre. Van Mander commented in very pejorative terms about the style of painting that was associated with the town of Kortrijk, defining it as: 9 een slechte wijse van wercken dat dickwils geen schilderen is weerdich te heeten maer soo eenigh doeckverwen oft cleerschrijven datmen daer in der stadt gewent is en daer soo eenighe marct-volghende cramers op zijn gepast

a simple manner of working which is often not worthy to be called painting, but merely a bit of canvas-coloring or staining to which one is accustomed in that town, and which are chased after by some peddlars who scour the markets

Clearly, Van Mander associates this style with cheap low-quality pictures which involved painting in tempera on canvas was very common. These types of pictures were also produced in Mechlin, and appear to have been readily available on the Antwerp art market. 10

7 We recall Jacobs' estimate that it took up to a year to finish a carved altarpiece, and in some cases even longer. Jacobs, Early Netherlandish CarvedAltarpieces, 168 and 199-200. 8 S.A.A., N. 1478, no fol. (document dated February 26, 1583); see Appendix 2. 9 Van Mander, Lives, vol. !, 254-255 (fol. 249r). 10 Ibid., vol. 4, 11 O.




The availability of the unfinished dypthics for sale at the schilderspandis very significant as it underlines the advanced degree of commercialization of the art trade. lt gave the potential costumer another option besicles having to chose between the purchase of a ready-made painting or to commission a new one. ln Antwerp, he or she could th us acquire a semi-finished painting which allowed for adding personalized elements such as a portrait or a coat of arms at a later stage. This phenomenon could already be found much earlier in the century in Antwerp mannerist painting. The wings of these triptychs werc occasionally lcft blanc so that the ultimate buyer (often located in foreign lands) could have it customized by having his portrait or patron saint painted in. The same trend could be observed in sculpture where a mengvorm existed as well between the on spec and on commission mode of production: carved altarpieces were often a mix between a standardized corpus and some personalized scenes and components. 11 Lastly, the success of the panden can only be explaine