Dealer-Dealer Pricing in the 17th Century Antwerp-Paris Art Trade

Scholarly Edition

The paper explores the evolution of pricing arrangements agreed between two art dealers, one in Paris, the other in Antwerp, in the period 1650 to 1665. These two dealt mainly in made-to-order works. They were principal (Antwerp) and agent (Paris). The principal posted prices, a common arrangement for commodities which involve high up-front costs and small sales volume, and where specialized information is an important part of securing clients and sales. To test an agent's commitment, however, a different arrangement is needed. The historical sequence was posted prices; an episode to test commitment; then posted prices once again, but with sale-or-return. The evolution can be rationalised as the discovery of ways to improve flexibility and reduce information, negotiation and monitoring costs. The historical significance of the relationship itself, however, is that it enabled the Paris dealer to negotiate successfully adaptations of Antwerp visual culture to Parisian tastes, thereby sustaining an export trade which might otherwise have collapsed.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • De Marchi, N; Van Miegroet, HJ; Raiff, ME

Published Date

  • 1997