HomeAntique collections and collectors in Europe in the Belle Epoque (1870-1914)

HomeAntique collections and collectors in Europe in the Belle Epoque (1870-1914)

Antique collections and collectors in Europe in the Belle Epoque (1870-1914)

Collections et collectionneurs d’antiquités en Europe à la Belle Epoque (1870-1914)

*  *  *

Published on Friday, February 22, 2019


Alors que certains artistes et collectionneurs initient durant cette période une véritable rupture vis-à-vis de l’art classique, ces décennies sont marquées par la persistance d’un puissant goût pour l’Antiquité, aux sources toutefois toujours plus variées : si les périodes dites « classiques » des arts grec et romain continuent de dominer les acquisitions sur le marché de l’art, les périodes hautes et tardives attirent davantage l’attention des savants et des collectionneurs, de même que les autres cultures du pourtour méditerranéen et du Moyen-Orient. Cette période est aussi l’âge d’or de l’archéologie de terrain, dans un cadre législatif qui empêche largement l’exportation des œuvres ; si les lois sont souvent contournées, la production de faux parfois très élaborés permet aussi d’alimenter l’appétit des collectionneurs.


Antiquities Collections and Collectors in Belle Époque Europe (1870–1914) INHA and Musée du Louvre, Paris, 28–29 November 2019


The years 1870–1914 were the Belle Époque for antiquities collecting, which moved beyond a select circle of wealthy and erudite connoisseurs into European society more broadly, with the acquisition of objects ranging from inexpensive statuettes to the most renowned marble works. Key places for the creation and disintegration of collections, auction houses, particularly in Paris, were central to the strategies of various market players. Drawing from the study of figures of collectors, upon which recent research sheds new light, as well as more general and thematic approaches, this symposium seeks to provide a panorama of antiquities collections during the extended fin de siècle leading up to World War I. The focus will encompass the collectors themselves, from the wealthiest to the most modest; the concerned works, straddling art and erudition; the scope of the collections; and the strategies used in their establishment. Drawing from particular case studies, we will strive to provide an overview of this pivotal period in the history of antiquities collections, at the root of many of today’s museum collections.

The conditions of the antiquities art market witnessed major change after the first half of the nineteenth century, and the art market grew sharply under the Second French Empire. The proliferation of museums in Europe as well as the United States (with strong development starting at the end of the Civil War in 1865) made them prominent actors, receiving private collections through donation or purchase, and buying them directly at sales. Lastly, the phenomenon of the democratisation of collecting, which became a norm in bourgeois milieus, directly impacted antiquities: the ‘Tanagra’ trend, which spread throughout Europe following the discovery of the Boeotian city’s necropolises in 1870, illustrates this best.

While during this period, some artists and collectors initiated a genuine break with classical art, these decades were characterised by a persistently powerful taste for antiquity, drawing from increasingly varied sources: while what is referred to as the ‘classical’ period of Greek and Roman arts continued to dominate acquisitions on the art market, the early and late periods attracted greater attention from experts and collectors, as did other cultures from around the Mediterranean rim and Middle East. This period was also the golden age of field archaeology, in a legal context that mostly prevented the exportation of works; while laws were oftentimes skirted, the production of fakes, sometimes highly sophisticated, also allowed collectors’ appetites to be satisfied.

Papers may focus on case studies or general approaches; priority will be given to collections and collectors that have attracted less historiographical attention.

How to apply ?

Papers may be in French or English.

Abstracts of some 500 words should be submitted by 31 March 2019

 to  morgan.belzic@inha.fr.

Symposium organised by

  • Dietrich Boschung (Universität zu Köln)
  • Cécile Colonna (Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art)
  • Néguine Mathieux (Musée du Louvre)
  • François Queyrel (École Pratique des Hautes Études)

With the collaboration of Morgan Belzic (EPHE / INHA).


  • Institut national d'histoire de l'art - 2, rue Vivienne ou 6 rue des Petits Champs
    Paris, France (75002)


  • Sunday, March 31, 2019


  • Belle Epoque, Antiquité, art grec, art romain, Moyen-Orient

Information source

  • Florencia Montes
    courriel : florencia [dot] montes [at] inha [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Antique collections and collectors in Europe in the Belle Epoque (1870-1914) », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, February 22, 2019, https://calenda.org/568586

Archive this announcement

  • Google Agenda
  • iCal
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search