ISSN: 2511-7602

Journal for Art Market Studies

Pilar Diez del Corral Corredoira


Used as we are to the idea that we were never as connected globally as today, we should stop to learn from the past since the global connection began five hundred years ago in 1519 when Fernando Magallanes and Juan Sebastián Elcano’s expedition left to complete the first circumnavigation of the Earth, confirming the Aristotelian hypothesis that our planet is indeed spherical. The maritime feat allowed for the beginning of what has been called the first period of globalization or Iberian globalization and was an expedition financed and led by Spain under Emperor Charles V. This was part of the great chain of expeditions that were financed by the kings of Spain since the fifteenth century which led to the discovery of America.

From the expedition of Magellan and Elcano, which linked the continents through a sea route, other scientific expeditions and geographical discoveries followed that facilitated and promoted all kinds of commercial exchanges, among which the one known as Tornaviaje which was the most prominent as it consolidated the quintessential commercial route of the Manila Galleon. This essential route that allowed Manila to connect with Seville through New Spain was due to Juan de Urdaneta who, in 1565, found the way that allowed him to return from Asia to America. The importance of this trip was such that when Urdaneta docked in Acapulco, the entire town long celebrated his enterprise, convinced that New Spain would be the new center of the world and, without a doubt, was the most important commercial center for the next 250 years. The so-called Silver Route would connect China with Spanish America and Spain and, therefore, with the rest of Europe, allowing for a constant flow of goods and people that consolidated that first globalization of which we are heirs today and that cannot be attributed to the Industrial Revolution, as is usually emphasized from the always predominant Anglo-Saxon historiographic perspective.

This issue of The Journal for Art Market Studies emerges in a happy coincidence in the midst of the commemoration of the Magellan and Elcano expedition with the intention of exploring some of the many aspects of the artistic market under the auspices of the Spanish Empire in a vast geographic context, of intricate commercial and human networks. Although our approach is undoubtedly limited, this volume intends to open the conversation so that other researchers decide to explore this fascinating subject and, above all, to give some examples of its wide interest to an audience unfamiliar with the matter. The authors who have accepted the challenge of writing for this issue have chosen themes ranging from the most local to the transoceanic, through the study of artistic materials, agents and commercial actors to the application of quantitative methods to create a relational database that sheds new light on primary sources. The issue closes with an extensive interview with Luisa Elena Alcalá, one of the leading researchers and teachers on viceregal art, who has kindly agreed to answer our questions about the future of studies of the artistic production in Spanish America, the importance within the perspective area of the art market and other topics.

The issue begins with the contribution of Akemi Luisa Herráez Vossbrink, who proposes the first comparative study of the circulation of works by Murillo and Zurbarán in the American continent. Its approach allows us to enter, among other things, into the study of the reception and fortune of both painters in the New World and what were the means and commercial strategies that accompanied them in that new and unknown market. While Zurbarán’s case is better known and the author can rely on previous work by Navarrete Prieto to go a step further. The case of Murillo is a challenge on account of his having been a painter of whose reception in Spanish America we know very little about. This makes the analysis and discoveries related to his family ties across the Atlantic and the presence of his work in Lima’s La Buena Muerte Convent alongside Zurbarán’s all the more interesting.

Álvarez de Toledo directs his interest back to the Old Continent by addressing the painting market in Seville between 1475 and 1700. His article is based on the detailed collection of data derived from a multitude of primary sources already known by researchers in order to build a relational database of painters that calls into question the commonly held belief of historiography that Seville had very few masters. To date it has been considered as a city in which the artistic market was not avant-garde despite the extraordinary conditions it had to favor it. Álvarez de Toledo argues with great solidity that this fallacy is the result of a partial vision and concludes that far from being an isolated case this artistic market was perfectly comparable to that of cities like Antwerp and Amsterdam.

The extensive and intricate commercial networks are the structure in which the arrival of pigments and dyes for artists flourishes, which despite being only a secondary branch, dependent on the textile, ceramic and, above all, medical and pharmaceutical trade, constitutes an aspect of vital importance to understanding the dynamics of artistic production at a deeper level. In his study Herrero Cortell offers us an overview of this pigment and dye trade and does so by showing the situation prior to the discoveries and then considers the impact that the geographical explorations had on the expansion of the market. This goes from the minor globalization of the Mediterranean to the great intercontinental globalization, whose impact goes beyond the opening of new markets, since it also implies the arrival of new materials, the appearance of new actors and changes in the distribution and export that challenge and unfailingly alter the previous balance of trade.

The fluctuating price of works of art, depending on whether it is the result of a direct commission to the artist or if it is a work designed for the open market, is one of the aspects addressed by Ana Diéguez in her approach to the study of the rich art market between Flanders and Spain in the sixteenth century. In her article, the author uses numerous examples in archival sources to evince a fabric of commercial relations that bear fruit between Spanish Flanders and the Iberian Peninsula. The author sheds light not only on the study of chrematistics but also on taste, the consideration of the artwork, the different markets available, sales strategies by agents and / or artists, etc. which show, without a doubt, the remarkable rapport between Flemish artists and their Spanish buyers. Thanks to a public so permeable to Flemish taste, Spain became the natural refuge of the great flight of artistic heritage produced as a result of the violent outbreak of iconoclasm between 1565-1566. This allows the author to trace the existence of religious works that were believed to have been destroyed in the most varied locations in the Iberian Peninsula.

This special issue closes with an interview with Professor Luisa Elena Alcalá who has been teaching Hispanic viceregal art for more than fifteen years at the Autonomous University of Madrid. Her training and international career on the other side of the Atlantic make her an ideal interlocutor to help the reader understand the situation of studies of viceregal art in university classrooms, while commenting on different aspects of the current state of the art market in this context.

Although the theme that is behind this special issue of JAMS is tremendously ample, we have only been able to consider a small part of the latest trends in current research. It is our hope that this volume awakens the curiosity of both senior researchers and those who are newcomers to academic life and that it serves as an incentive to delve into the stimulation that the conceptual framework of the artistic market can offer in this particular time and context. We thank, therefore, our authors for having decided to accept the challenge and, above all, Susanne Meyer-Abich for having welcomed this completely unusual proposal within the journal with such enthusiasm and for her excellent editorial work.

Translation: James Nelson Novoa