Archive for January, 2015

January 27, 2015

Art Dealers & Antique Dealers – James Connell & Sons, Glasgow

As followers of the Antique Dealers Project blog will already know, one of the problems we’ve encountered as the project has developed is where to draw the line around ‘antique dealers’ as a practice (or profession).  Earlier posts have pointed towards the overlaps between the antique trade and the second-hand trade – the shift between ‘antique’ and ‘second-hand’ is always a moveable feast!

One of the decisions we took early on in the development of the research questions for the project was that we were not going to focus on the ‘Fine Art’ trade – the history of the Picture Dealer is already a well mapped out research area, and we thought we would leave to other scholars – (many of which, I count as good friends and colleagues actually!)

Anyway, as we already knew, things are complicated! This was brought into sharper focus when I recently acquired a little catalogue of an exhibition held at James Connell & Sons, in Glasgow.

Connell cover

James Connell & Sons, Exhibition Catalogue. c.1910

Connell is well known amongst art historians as a ‘Fine Art’ dealer – one who emerged from the picture frame making trades in the middle decades of the 19th century – for more specific detail on Connell do take a look at the excellent research projects on the Art Trade (Dr Pamela Fletcher’s fab site at Bowdoin College) The London Gallery Project

Or the large research project ‘Mapping the Profession and Practice of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951

Connell in these projects is located in the boundaries of the picture trade – and I expect that is where they properly reside – however, as you’ll see by the title of the little exhibiton catalogue (above) Connell also, occasionally I imagine, sold ‘Antique Furniture’ (or ‘Old Furniture’ as their catalogue suggests) – which (for us, at least) further complicates the boundaries of the antique trade – not that they are ever defined so clearly anyway, we know that!

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to show the Connell catalogue – it’s a small ‘souvenir’ (as they state) of an undated exhibition, but certainly seems to date from c.1910.

connell frontis

Connell catalogue, c.1910

The introductory page states that Connell ‘have been fortunate in acquiring recently superb examples of Chippendale, Adam, Sheraton, and Hepplewhite furniture from well-known collections. Those beautiful specimens form a most interesting exhibition. which is presently being held at their galleries, 31 Renfield Street, Glasgow.’

Connell chest

‘Satinwood Commode’ from Connell catalogue, c.1910

There are perhaps a dozen individually photographed pieces of furniture, ranging from 16th/17th century oak, to late 18th century satinwood furniture – not sure that some of the pieces would pass the ‘authenticity test’ today, but that’s beside the point.  The real interest here, as far as the current research project in the ‘antique trade’ in concerned, is that catalogues such as Connell’s demonstrate the blurred boundaries of the history of the ‘art’ market.

Mark

 

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