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The Lives of the Painters of Modern Life: The Careers of Artists in France from Impressionism to Cubism

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  • David W. Galenson

Abstract

Modern painting began in France during the nineteenth century. Using transactions from art auctions for the work of 50 leading painters who worked in France during the first century of modern art, I estimate the relationship between the value of a painting and the artist's age at the date of its execution. The econometric estimates show that artists born before 1850 - including Manet, C‚zanne, and Degas - typically produced their most valuable work late in their careers, whereas artists born after 1850 - including Picasso, L‚ger, and Braque - were more likely to have done their most valuable work at early ages. Comparison of these results to evidence drawn from art history textbooks furthermore demonstrates that these artists' most valuable work has also been that most highly regarded by scholars. I argue that the change over time in the shape of these artists' age-price profiles was a result of changes in the nature of painting during the late nineteenth century, as painting increasingly became an activity in which innovation was a principal determinant of an artist's importance.

Suggested Citation

  • David W. Galenson, 1999. "The Lives of the Painters of Modern Life: The Careers of Artists in France from Impressionism to Cubism," NBER Working Papers 6888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6888
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    Cited by:

    1. David W. Galenson & Bruce A. Weinberg, 2001. "Creating Modern Art: The Changing Careers of Painters in France from Impressionism to Cubism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1063-1071, September.
    2. Ventura Charlin & Arturo Cifuentes, 2013. "A new financial metric for the art market," Papers 1309.6929, arXiv.org, revised Jul 2015.
    3. Victor Ginsburgh & Sheila Weyers, 2006. "Creativity and Life Cycles of Artists," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 30(2), pages 91-107, September.
    4. Sebastian Edwards, 2004. "The Economics of Latin American Art: Creativity Patterns and Rates of Return," NBER Working Papers 10302, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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