Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 317–348 | Cite as

Entry of painters in the Amsterdam market of the Golden Age

  • Federico EtroEmail author
  • Elena Stepanova
Regular Article


We analyze the evolution of the entry of painters and price of paintings in the XVII century Amsterdam art market. In line with evolutionary theory, demand-driven entry in the market was first associated with product innovations and a rapid increase in the number of painters. After reaching a peak, the number of painters started to decrease in parallel with a price decline and the introduction of process innovations. To test for the role of profitability in the art market as a determinant of endogenous entry of painters, we build a price index for the representative painting inventoried in Dutch houses. This is based on hedonic regressions controlling for characteristics of the paintings (size, genre, placement in the house), the owners (job, religion, value of the collection, size of the house) and the painters. After a peak at the beginning of the century, the real price of paintings decreased until the end of the century. We provide anecdotal evidence for which high initial prices attracted entry of innovators, and econometric evidence on the causal relation between price movements and entry.


Art market Endogenous entry Dutch golden age Hedonic prices VAR analysis 

JEL Classification

Z11 N0 D4 



We are grateful to Karol Jan Borowiecki, Roberto Casarin, Giovanni Dosi, Kathryn Graddy, Neil De Marchi, Bruno Frey, Alessandro Nuvolari and Paul Richard Sharp for comments and especially to Mario Padula for initial participation to the project and many invaluable suggestions. The paper was presented at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense and the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. Finally, Etro is thankful to Louisa Wood Ruby, Head of Photoarchive Research at the Frick Collection (New York).


  1. Bayer T M, Page J R (2011) The development of the art market in England: money as muse, 1730-1900. Pickering & Chatto PublishersGoogle Scholar
  2. Borowiecki K J (2015) Historical origins of cultural supply in Italy. Oxford Econ Papers 67(3):781–805CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Box GEP, Jenkins GM (1970) Time series analysis: forecasting and control. Holden Day, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  4. Chanel O, Gérard-Varet L-A, Ginsburgh V (1994) Prices and returns on paintings: an exercise on how to price the priceless. Geneva Papers Risk Insur Theory 19(1):7–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chong A (1987) The market for landscape painting in seventeenth-century Holland. In: Sutton P (ed) Masters of the 17th-Century Dutch landscape painting. Exh. Cat., Boston, pp 104–20Google Scholar
  6. Crenshaw P (2006) Rembrandt’s bankruptcy: the artist, his patrons, and the art world in seventeeth-century Netherlands. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  7. De Marchi N, Van Miegroet H (1994) Art, value, and market practices in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century. Art Bull 76(3):451–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. De Marchi N, Van Miegroet H (eds) (2006) The history of art markets , Ch. 3. In Ginsburgh V, and Throsby D (eds) Handbook of the economics of art and culture, vol 1, ElsevierGoogle Scholar
  9. De Vries J (1982) An Inquiry into the behavior of wages in the Dutch Republican and the Southern Netherlands from 1580 to 1800. In: Aymard M (ed) Dutch capitalism and World capitalism. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  10. De Vries J, van der Woude A (1997) The first modern economy: success, failure, and perseverance of the Dutch economy, 1500-1815. Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  11. Dosi G (1982) Technological paradigms and technological trajectories: a suggested interpretation of the determinants and directions of technical change. Res Polic 11 (3):147–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Engle RF, Granger CWJ (1987) Cointegration and error correction: representation, estimation and testing. Econometrica 55:251–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Etro F., Colciago A. (2010) Endogenous market structures and the business cycle. Econ J 120:1201–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Etro F., Marchesi S., Pagani L. (2015) The labor market in the art sector of Baroque Rome. Economic Inquiry 53(1):365–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Etro F., Pagani L. (2012) The market for paintings in Italy during the seventeenth century. J Econ Hist 72(2):423–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Etro F, Pagani L (2013) The market for paintings in the venetian republic from renaissance to Rococo. J Cultur Econ 37(4):391–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Etro F, Stepanova E (2013) The market for paintings in the Netherlands during the Seventeenth Century, University of Venice, Ca’ Foscari, Dept. of Economics W.P. 16Google Scholar
  18. Etro F, Stepanova E (2015) The market for paintings in Paris between Rococo and romanticism. Kyklos 68(1):28–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Etro F, Stepanova E (2016) Art collections and taste in the Spanish Siglo de Oro. J Cultur Econ. in pressGoogle Scholar
  20. Etro F, Stepanova E (2017) Art auctions in London at the time of the industrial revolution, mimeo, VeniceGoogle Scholar
  21. Gort M, Klepper S (1982) Time paths in the diffusion of product innovations. Econ J 92:630–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Granger CWJ (1969) Investigating causal relations by econometric models and cross-spectral methods. Econometrica 37(3):424–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hauser A (1951) The social history of art. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  24. Jovanovic B, Lach S (1989) Entry, exit, and diffusion with learning by doing. Amer Econ Rev 79(4):690–99Google Scholar
  25. Kemp M (1990) The science of art: optical themes in western art from Brunelleschi to Seurat. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  26. Klepper S (1996) Entry, exit, growth, and innovation over the product life cycle. Amer Econ Rev:562–83Google Scholar
  27. Klepper S (1997) Industry life cycles. Ind Corpor Change 6:145–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Klepper S (2002) Firm survival and the evolution of oligopoly. RAND J Econ 33(1):37–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Klepper S, Graddy E (1990) The evolution of new industries and the determinants of market structure. RAND J Econ 21(1):27–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Loughman J, Montias J M (2001) Public and private spaces. Works of art in seventeenth-century Dutch houses. Antique Collectors Club LtdGoogle Scholar
  31. McCloskey D (2015) It was ideas and ideologies, not interests or institutions, which changed in Northwestern Europe, 1600–1848. J Evol Econ 25(1):57–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. vanMander K (1604) Het Leven der Doorluchtighe Nederlandtsche, en Hooghduytsche Schilders, HaarlemGoogle Scholar
  33. Martens M, Peeters N (2006) Paintings in Antwerp Houses (1532-1567), Chapter 2 in De Marchi, N and H Van Miegroet Mapping markets for paintings in Europe 1450-1750. BrepolsGoogle Scholar
  34. Montias JM (1982) Artists and artisans in Delft: a socio-economic study of the seventeenth century. PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  35. Montias JM (1987) Cost and value in seventeenth-century art. Art Hist 10 (4):455–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Montias JM, De Vries J (1991) Works of art in seventeenth-century Amsterdam: an analysis of sub-jects and attributions. In: Freedberg D (ed) Art in history/ history in art: studies in seventeenth-century Dutch culture, Santa Monica, pp 331–72Google Scholar
  37. Montias JM (1996) Quantitative methods in the analysis of 17th century Dutch inventories. In: Ginsburgh V, Menger P (eds) Economics of arts - selected essays, ElsevierGoogle Scholar
  38. Montias JM (2002) Art at auction in 17th century Amsterdam. Amsterdam University Press, AmsterdamCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Nelson R, Winter SG (1982) An evolutionary theory of economic change. Harvard University PressGoogle Scholar
  40. North M (1999) Art and commerce in the Dutch golden age. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  41. Ogilvie S (2004) Guilds, efficiency, and social capital: evidence from German Proto-industry. Econ Hist Rev 57(2):286–333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Prak MR (2008) Painters, guilds and the art market during the Dutch Golden Age. In: Prak M, Epstein SR (eds) Guilds, innovation and the European economy 1400-1800. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  43. Rasterhoff C (2012) The fabric of creativity in the Dutch Republic. Painting and publishing as cultural industries, 1580-1800, PhD Dissertation, UtrechtGoogle Scholar
  44. Schama S (1987) The embarrassment of riches: an interpretation of Dutch culture in the Golden Age. Alfred A. Knopf, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  45. Schama S (1999) Rembrandt’s eyes. Alfred A. Knopf, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  46. Scherer FM (2004) Quarter notes and bank notes: the economics of music composition in the 18th and 19th centuries. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  47. Sims CA, Stock JH, Watson MW (1990) Inference in linear time series models with some unit roots. Econometrica 58:133–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Slive S (1995) Dutch painting 1600-1800. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  49. Sluijter EJ (2008) Determining value on the art market in the Golden Age: an introduction. In: Tummers A (ed) Art market and connoisseurship: a closer look at paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and their contemporaries, pp 7–28Google Scholar
  50. Spear R, Sohm P (2010) Painting for profit. The economic lives of seventeenth-century Italian painters. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  51. Toda HY, Yamamoto T (1995) Statistical inference in vector autoregressions with possibly integrated processes. J Economet 66(1–2):225–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Winter SG (1984) Schumpeterian competition in alternative technological regimes. J Econ Behav Organiz 5(3):287–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of Venice Ca’ FoscariVeniceItaly
  2. 2.Laboratory of Economics and ManagementSant’Anna School of Advanced StudiesPisaItaly

Personalised recommendations