This bundle includes the following publications:
Through the Salerooms: Art Auctions in Belfast, 1807-1888
Through the Salerooms is the third and final volume to be derived from the author’s doctoral dissertation of 1998, ‘The Development of Belfast as a Centre of Art 1760–1888’ (Queen’s University, Belfast). The first book, Art in Belfast 1760–1888: Art Lovers or Philistines? (2006) told the story of art in Belfast from its beginnings in the 1760s to the 1880s, whilst the second volume, Window to an Age: A Chronicle of Art in Belfast 1760–1888 (2016) contained details of artists’ movements, the contents of exhibitions held by art societies and art dealers and the identities of owners.
This third book completes the study of art in Belfast within the period, focussing upon a little-known aspect of the local art world: art auctions and the works on sale. As can be seen, the number of works passing through the salerooms was considerable. Whilst the majority were British paintings, there were also many Irish and European paintings and numerous Old Masters. Though the subject of auctions had been touched upon in the first book, this is the first extended examination of the topic.
The expansion of the art trade from the late 1830s saw the beginning of an important trend: dealers from outside Ireland sending collections to be auctioned in Belfast. This sending of works indicates that Belfast was regarded as a good place to sell, a fact hitherto unknown in the art history of the town.
With a section on auctioneers and dealers and an index of owners, the book is a valuable addition to the art and cultural history of Belfast in the nineteenth century.
Window To An Age – A Chronicle of Art in Belfast 1760-1888
Dr Eileen Black, a former fine art curator in the Ulster Museum, has published numerous articles on Irish art and catalogues on various areas of the museum's collection; also, catalogues of the fine art collections of the Belfast Harbour Commissioners, Queen's University and Down County Museum.
In 2006, she published Art in Belfast 1760-1888: Art Lovers or Philistines?, a major work based on her doctoral thesis. Now retired, she continues to explore the art world of Belfast in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a subject of endless fascination for her.
Window to an Age is intended as a companion to the author's book of 2006 - Art in Belfast 1760-1888: Art Lovers or Philistines? - which told the story of art in Belfast from its early beginnings to the opening in 1888 of the town's first rate-supported art space, a suite of galleries on the top floor of the Free Public Library (now Central Library) in Royal Avenue.
This new publication gives an account of artists' comings and goings in Belfast between 1760 and 1888 and details the contents of the various exhibitions held by exhibiting societies and art dealers, information which has been largely forgotten or lost through time.
The book also reveals lesser-known features of the local art world, such as the many panoramas which came to town, providing entertainment and education for the masses; also, the art to be seen at the conversaziones of societies like the Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society and the various kinds of artistic training offered to gentlewomen by now-forgotten lady artists.
Overall, Window to an Age gives a bird's-eye view of the art world of the town during the period covered and provides a unique insight into aspects of Belfast's cultural life in former times.
The inclusion of an index of owners of art, of whom little was known, together with an index of portraits, should prove particularly useful to local and family historians.