Programme de Recherche International
Paris Île de France
The aim of this presentation is to put Impressionism back into the "system of collected objects". In other words, it seeks to analyze the other artworks that the impressionist lovers collected and to characterize their tastes in the broadest sense. Were there any regularities of preferences among these collectors, and if so, how were these systems of preferences structured, both in time and in social space? Did the impressionist collectors form a homogeneous and singular group in relation to other collectors, and how did the system of collected objects position itself within the much larger field of collections in general? Two sources were mobilized in order to broaden the focus as much as possible and to allow a comparative and quantitative approach for three years of interest: the minutes of the Parisian auctioneers and the directories of collectors. The quantitative analysis of this double corpus, through auction sales and directories, allows identifying an evolution in the system of collected objects. In 1875, Impressionism was collected by amateurs whose tastes were mainly towards the "modern" paintings of the 1830 school and who also defended other young artists who were selling their own works at Parisian auction - notably those who made up the "Société des Dix". In 1900, Impressionism, then consecrated, seemed to have become part of the average collection of modern paintings, joining the first base formed by the 1830 school; it no longer allowed for any real differentiation in the field of collectors. In 1925, impressionist enthusiasts collected “Old Masters” artworks, and no longer just "modern" works, and showed a greater eclecticism. Nevertheless, as in 1900, the taste for impressionism was not a distinctive and singular feature in the collectors' space.