Dr Tom Flynn is a UK-based art historian, writer and art consultant. He holds a BA Honours degree (First Class) in Art History from the University of Sussex, a Masters in Design History from the Royal College of Art and a doctorate from the University of Sussex. His interests include contemporary art; sculpture history; museology and the history of museums; art crime; issues in cultural heritage; and the historical development and professional practice of the European art markets.
He is a visiting Senior Lecturer at Kingston School of Art, visiting lecturer at Christie’s Education and teaches at a number of other UK universities. For the past seven years he has lectured on the summer Post-Graduate Certificate in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection Studies at the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art (ARCA) in Amelia, Umbria, Italy.
A former Henry Moore Foundation post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Sussex, he has written for numerous international art publications.
Tom has a website at www.tomflynn.co.uk, runs a non-profit sculpture agency (www.thesculptureagency.co.uk), blogs at http://tom-flynn.blogspot.com, and is a co-founder of an art provenance research agency (www.flynngiovani.com). He is a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA).
This talk looks at how the European art market evolved from a structure of commissioning and elite patronage by the wealthy princes of the Italian Renaissance, through to the commercial instincts of the merchant classes of Holland’s Golden Age, and on to the impact of the Grand Tour on British tastes in the eighteenth century. We then explore the gradual appearance of a professional ‘dealer’ class in France and England in the nineteenth century, a fascinating story of capitalist self-interest, connoisseurship, commercial acumen, occasional bad behaviour and frequent sleight of hand. The lecture touches on the emergence of an entrepreneurial middle class in the mid-nineteenth century whose members sought to emulate the aristocracy through their consumer choices, leisure activities and aesthetic tastes. Conspicuous consumption — the eternal desire of successful people to display their success through the works of art they acquire — remains as powerful a driver of the global art market today as it was in Renaissance Florence.