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Canvases and Careers

Institutional Change in the French Painting World

In the nineteenth century, the Académie des Beaux Arts, and institution of central importance to the artistic life of France for over two hundred years, yielded much of its power to the present system of art distribution, which is dependent upon critics, dealers, and small exhibitions. In Canvases and Careers, Harrison and Cynthia White examine in scrupulous and fascinating detail how and why this shift occurred. Assimilating a wide range of historical and sociological data, the authors argue convincingly that the Academy, by neglecting to address the social and economic conditions of its time, undermined its own ability to maintain authority and control.

Originally published in 1965, this ground-breaking work is a classic piece of empirical research in the sociology of art. In this edition, Harrison C. White’s new Foreword compares the marketing approaches of two contemporary painters, while Cynthia A. White’s new Afterword reviews recent scholarship in the field.

198 pages | 13 halftones | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 1965, 1992

Art: Art--General Studies, European Art

Sociology: Sociology of Arts--Leisure, Sports

Table of Contents

Foreword to the 1993 Edition by Harrison C. White
1. Roots of the Nineteenth-Century Art Machine
Artist as Learned Man: Triumph of the Royal Academy
Paris: The Magnet
Genesis of the Dealers
Critics’ Emergence
Persistence of Guild Patterns
2. The Machine in Flower
Government Patronage and the New Elite
Training: Official Route to Success
The Education of Hippolyte Flandrin
Realities of Training
The Salon: Proving Ground
The Prestige of French Painting
A Small Army
The Home Guard
Dividing the Spoils
3. A New System Emerges
Change in Social Context
Changing Techniques and the Artist’s Role
A Glut in Search of a Market
Canvases vs. Careers
Subject Matter, Styles, and Markets
The Dealer-Critic System
Individual Careers and the New System
Decay of the Academic System
François Bonvin: Between Two Systems
4. The Impressionists: Their Roles in the New System
"For Fear of Remaining a Nonentity"
Official Training—and Alternatives
First Meetings and Working Relationships
A Piece of a Meaning
To Instruct the Public: Critic as Theorist
The Critic as Publicist and Ideologue
The Dealer as Speculator
The Dealer as Patron
"It’s a Wonderful Business Being a Bourgeois—without a Cent!"
Manet’s Sales
Pissarro’s Finances
Monet’s Money
An Expendable Weapon: The Group Show
Impressionists and the Dealer-Critic System
Afterword to the 1993 Edition by Cynthia A. White

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