This interdisciplinary research cluster welcomes all those interested in collecting, the art market and related issues.

The cluster provides a forum for discussion and presentation through holding regular seminars, workshops and talks by invited speakers, as well as Edinburgh-based researchers – both students and staff, and from disciplines as diverse as art history, business and sociology. Individuals have the opportunity to present their latest findings to a specialist audience in a relaxed environment.

The team also hope that members of the cluster will participate in the forthcoming TIAMSA (The International Art Market Studies Association) conference on Museums and the Art Market which will be held at ECA and the National Galleries of Scotland on 15-17 July 2021.

To join this research cluster or to suggest a topic for a ten-minute presentation, please contact Professor Frances Fowle and MaryKate Cleary, PhD candidate


Forthcoming events:

Tuesday 27 April 2021, 5pm GMT

Dr Mounia Chekhab-Abudaya (Senior Curator at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar): 'Collecting practices in the Gulf: the contribution of Sheikh Saoud Al Thani to the building of national collections in Qatar'

Sheikh Saoud bin Mohamed bin Ali Al Thani (1966-2014) was one of the most prominent art collectors of the last decades. He was very influential in the constitution of collections for Qatar Museums and the state of Qatar in general. His legacy as a collector is of crucial importance to Qatar Museums as he laid the foundations of the major collections within the institution. In connection with the exhibition, 'A Falcon’s Eye: Tribute to Sheikh Saoud Al Thani', presented at the Museum of Islamic Art Doha (MIA) from August 2020 until April 2021, this talk presents the different aspects of Sheikh Saoud’s collecting practices.


Tuesday 18 May 2021, 5.30pm GMT

Simon Kelly (Curator and Head of Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Saint Louis Art Museum): 'Theodore Rousseau and An Artist's Marketing Strategies in Nineteenth-Century France'

This talk examines the various innovative marketing strategies developed by the Barbizon landscape painter, Theodore Rousseau (1812-1867). It addresses Rousseau's fresh approaches to the exhibition of his work, his cultivation of extensive dealer and auction house networks, and the internationalization of his artistic project within a rapidly expanding nineteenth-century art market. Rousseau's example will be placed within the context of his artistic peers in order to highlight the extent of his difference.


Thursday/Friday 6 - 7 May; Thursday 3 June; and Thursday/Friday 15 - 16 July, The Art Market and The Museum: Ethics and Aesthetics of Institutional Collecting, Display and Patronage from c.1800 to the Present

The theme of the TIAMSA 2021 conference is the historic and contemporary intersections of the art market and museums. The conference will consider both how museums affect the art market and how art market stakeholders, including art dealers, collectors and patrons have, both historically and in more recent years, shaped museum collections and affected exhibition practices – from art dealers like Thomas Agnew, Paul Durand-Ruel or Leo Castelli, to collectors like Sir Richard Wallace, Albert C. Barnes and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, to museum directors such as Hugo von Tschudi at the Berlin National Gallery and Jean Cassou at the Museé National d’Art Moderne in Paris.


Tuesday 1 June, 5.30pm GMT

Dr Alycen Mitchell (Queen Mary, University of London): 'The Goldschmidt auction & the Development of the Modern Auction Market 1954-1965'

On 15th October 1958, Sotheby’s mounted a spectacular evening auction featuring the seven most important Impressionist paintings from the collection of the late Jakob Goldschmidt. It took Peter Wilson, Sotheby’s chairman, the auctioneer that night, exactly twenty-one minutes to sell those seven paintings for a total of £781,000. That total broke all previous records for a single event auction. This high-profile sale marked the beginning of a new era in art auctions. In her talk Alycen Mitchell discusses the early Impressionist auctions before and after the Goldschmidt auction. She explores the Goldschmidt auction’s contribution to Sotheby’s growing lead in the global auction market and assesses its legacy.


Previous events:

Tuesday 30 March 2021, 5.30pm GMT

Dr Lewis Ryder (University of Manchester): 'The Extraordinary Ordinary Collector: John Hilditch and his Challenge to Museum Experts in 1920s Britain'

In the 1920s John Hilditch (1872-1930) was the most esteemed collector of Chinese art in the world. At least that was what he claimed. Born into a working-class family in the North West, Hilditch rose up the social ladder and amassed an extensive Chinese art collection. For over fifteen years he was embroiled in a highly public dispute with experts at Manchester City Art Gallery and the British and Victoria and Albert Museums over the authenticity and value of his collection. This talk focuses on Hilditch’s posturing as an elite collector to explore how ‘ordinary’ Britons conceptualized and experienced art collecting, and examine how far the democratisation of collecting disrupted orthodox social and cultural hierarchies.


Tuesday 23 February 2021, 5.30pm - 6.45pm GMT

Lecture/Talk with art critic Catherine G. Wagley (Los Angeles)

Catherine G. Wagley's current book project is a case history and an excavation of the work of five gallerists whose lives intertwined and whose programs overlapped: Virginia Dwan, Riko Mizuno, Eugenia Butler, Suzanne Jackson, and Claire Copley. They operated galleries in Los Angeles during the 1960s and 1970s and were similarly under-known and instrumental in encouraging a generation of artists to take risks. None have been written about thoroughly or often, despite the fact that many of the artists they nurtured have since been canonized. While this project certainly aims to fill a gap in a still-imbalanced historical record, another big picture aim is to share that excitement with readers who feel hungry for different, more open models for what working and living with art can look like. This talk focused particularly on Butler’s short years at the helm of her eponymous space (1969-71), exploring how her propensity for collapsing her personal life into the lives of her artists led to a program in which nearly everything felt like defiant spectacle.


Wednesday 13 January 2021, 1.30pm - 2.45pm GMT

Professor Dan Hicks (University of Oxford): 'The Brutish Museums'

This event was co-hosted by the University of Edinburgh History of Art Research Seminar Series and the University of Edinburgh Collecting and Art Market Research Cluster.

Dan Hicks FSA is Professor of Contemporary Archaeology at the University of Oxford, Curator of World Archaeology at the Pitt Rivers Museum and a Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford. He was Visiting Professor at the Musée du Quai Branly in 2017-18, and was awarded the Rivers Medal of the Royal Anthropological Society in 2017. Dan's new book, The Brutish Museums: the Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence and Cultural Restitution was published by Pluto Press in November 2020, and has been described in reviews by Ben Okri OBE as "a startling act of conscience", by The Economist as "a real game-changer", by The Guardian as “beautifully written and carefully argued”, by CNN as “unsparing”, by Nature as “timely”, and by the Sunday Times as "destined to become an essential text". The Brutish Museums was listed as one of the New York Times Best Art Books of 2020, with the recommendation: “If you care about museums and the world, read this book”.


Tuesday 15 December 2020 - 5:30pm GMT

Dr Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth, '"Sèvres-mania" and the late 19th-Century art market'

This talk looked at the mania and prices for old Sèvres porcelain at auction and focus on a court case between dealers Werheimer and Goode about authenticity/counterfeits and Sèvres in the 1880s.


Wednesday 25 November 2020 - 5:30PM GMT

Dr Shir Kochavi, '"Heirless" Jewish cultural Property Post-Holocaust: the case of two museums'

Despite the extensive research over the past twenty years on Holocaust related restitution, little is known about the disposal process of ‘heirless’ Jewish cultural property at Central Collecting Points (CCPs) in Germany. This talk followed the involvement of two institutions in this process: the Bezalel Museum in Jerusalem and the Jewish Museum in New York. In the early 1950s, both museums were used as repositories for a large number of the items shipped from Germany by the staff of the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction (JCR) that was responsible for the allocation of ‘heirless’ Jewish property.


Tuesday 20 October 2020 - 3:00pm GMT

Dr Kirsten Lloyd and Julie-Ann Delaney, 'Collecting Contemporary: University Art Collections in the 21st Century'

The University’s Contemporary Art Research Collection was established in 2015 in partnership with academics in the School of History of Art. Taking globalisation as its central theme, the collection sets a specific focus on women's experience and the contribution of feminist thought.  Presented by Julie-Ann Delany, Art Collection Curator, and Kirsten Lloyd, Lecturer in Curatorial Theory and Practice, this talk explored the purpose of a research collection today and asks what a feminist approach might look like in this context.


Wednesday 12 February 2020, 3pm - 5pm, Evolution House Room 5.21

Prof Candace Jones (University of Edinburgh Business School, Chair of Global Creative Enterprise) presented on the topic of art brokerage and how technology is replacing auction houses and art dealers. We also heard from Josh Jenkins (University of Edinburgh, ECA, History of Art, PhD candidate) on art investment and speculation in 19th century Britain.


Wednesday 13 November 2019, 3pm - 5pm, Lauriston Fire Station Seminar Room C

Dr Dave O'Brien (University of Edinburgh Chancellor's Fellow in Cultural and Creative Industries) presented a talk entitled "Inequality talk: How discourses by senior men reinforce exclusions from creative occupations". We also enjoyed a contribution from Irene Walsh (University of Edinburgh, ECA History of Art PhD candidate) titled "Researching the early 20th-century New York art market: sources, methods, challenges, surprises".


Wednesday 16 October 2019, 3pm - 5pm, Lauriston Fire Station Seminar Room C

Professor Frances Fowle (University of Edinburgh, History of Art) provided a talk on the early twentieth century British collector Mrs. Elizabeth Workman. MaryKate Cleary (University of Edinburgh, ECA History of Art, PhD Candidate) contributed a discussion on Modernist collecting and the mediation of social and aesthetic experience, as well as symbolic value, in the public sphere, through the case study of the art dealer Paul Rosenberg.


Wednesday 20 March 2019, 2pm - 4pm, Evolution House

ECA PhD candidate Alina Sinelnyk provided an introduction to her research and its links to the Chinese contemporary art market. We also welcomed Alice Farren-Bradley, a Lecturer in Art and Cultural Property Law at Kingston University, and PhD candidate at Newcastle University, whose research focuses on US/UK military cultural property protection initiatives, in WWII-era Greece and Italy, as well as Iraq in the early 2000s, and the respective impact on the art trade.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019, 2pm - 4pm, Room P7, Hunter Building, ECA

We enjoyed a talk from 2nd Year History of Art PhD candidate Danielle Smith, whose research examines the socio-cultural functions of eighteenth-century Spanish printed costume books; and from Colin Brady, 3rd Year History of Art PhD candidate, who investigates how the West came to know Asian art through Yamanaka and Company, art dealers operating during periods of conflict that included the Boxer Uprising (1899-1901).

Wednesday 15 May 2019, 2pm - 4pm, Torridon Room, Charles Stewart House

We were treated to a wonderfully informative lecture by Cultural Sociologist Dr Lisa McCormick (Lecturer in the Department of Sociology) who explained how the sociological theories of Pierre Bourdieu and Howard Becker are applicable to art market studies. Nikki Kane, PhD candidate in History of Art, then introduced her research which focuses on the role of festivals in contemporary art careers and examines issues around cultural labour, festival and biennial cultures and cultural practices.

Saturday 28 September 2019, Women Collectors in Britain Conference, Hawthornden Lecture Theatre, National Galleries of Scotland

The aim of this conference was to raise awareness of the important contributions made by women collectors in Britain, focusing on the visual arts from the 18th century to the present day.

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