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A Strange Business: Art, Culture, and Commerce in Nineteenth Century London

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Britain in the nineteenth century saw a series of technological and social changes which continue to influence and direct us today. Its reactants were human genius, money and influence, its crucibles the streets and institutions, its catalyst time, its control the market. In this rich and fascinating book, James Hamilton investigates the vibrant exchange between culture and Britain in the nineteenth century saw a series of technological and social changes which continue to influence and direct us today. Its reactants were human genius, money and influence, its crucibles the streets and institutions, its catalyst time, its control the market. In this rich and fascinating book, James Hamilton investigates the vibrant exchange between culture and business in nineteenth-century Britain, which became a center for world commerce following the industrial revolution. He explores how art was made and paid for, the turns of fashion, and the new demands of a growing middle-class, prominent among whom were the artists themselves. While leading figures such as Turner, Constable, Landseer, Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Dickens are players here, so too are the patrons, financiers, collectors and industrialists; publishers, entrepreneurs, and journalists; artists' suppliers, engravers, dealers and curators; hostesses, shopkeepers and brothel keepers; quacks, charlatans, and auctioneers. Hamilton brings them all vividly to life in this kaleidoscopic portrait of the business of culture in nineteenth-century Britain, and provides thrilling and original insights into the working lives of some of the era's most celebrated artists


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Britain in the nineteenth century saw a series of technological and social changes which continue to influence and direct us today. Its reactants were human genius, money and influence, its crucibles the streets and institutions, its catalyst time, its control the market. In this rich and fascinating book, James Hamilton investigates the vibrant exchange between culture and Britain in the nineteenth century saw a series of technological and social changes which continue to influence and direct us today. Its reactants were human genius, money and influence, its crucibles the streets and institutions, its catalyst time, its control the market. In this rich and fascinating book, James Hamilton investigates the vibrant exchange between culture and business in nineteenth-century Britain, which became a center for world commerce following the industrial revolution. He explores how art was made and paid for, the turns of fashion, and the new demands of a growing middle-class, prominent among whom were the artists themselves. While leading figures such as Turner, Constable, Landseer, Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Dickens are players here, so too are the patrons, financiers, collectors and industrialists; publishers, entrepreneurs, and journalists; artists' suppliers, engravers, dealers and curators; hostesses, shopkeepers and brothel keepers; quacks, charlatans, and auctioneers. Hamilton brings them all vividly to life in this kaleidoscopic portrait of the business of culture in nineteenth-century Britain, and provides thrilling and original insights into the working lives of some of the era's most celebrated artists

30 review for A Strange Business: Art, Culture, and Commerce in Nineteenth Century London

  1. 4 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    More of a stroll around the 18th and 19th century British art scene than a particularly compelling thesis. Interesting facts and stories and an immersive recreation of a cut-throat and financially driven world.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mary Rose

    This book is a bit of a slog and it takes the author ages to get to the point (there's so many anecdotes and not much that ties them together into a coherent argument or narrative) but it's a valuable resource for this period in history so I'm not going to be too angry about it. This book is a bit of a slog and it takes the author ages to get to the point (there's so many anecdotes and not much that ties them together into a coherent argument or narrative) but it's a valuable resource for this period in history so I'm not going to be too angry about it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alistair

    This is an excellent account of the art business . The author brings some fascinating topics to light . There are great chapters on the collectors of the age from the Dukes of this that and the other to some fellow who made a fortune from hansom cabs or beer and the vagaries of various dealers seeking to ingratiate themselves with these collectors . I particularly enjoyed a chapter on the colours that artists used and how they were manufactured and sold . The author manages to make the reader fe This is an excellent account of the art business . The author brings some fascinating topics to light . There are great chapters on the collectors of the age from the Dukes of this that and the other to some fellow who made a fortune from hansom cabs or beer and the vagaries of various dealers seeking to ingratiate themselves with these collectors . I particularly enjoyed a chapter on the colours that artists used and how they were manufactured and sold . The author manages to make the reader feel they can smell the paint and touch the dust in small workshops that for instance contributed to supplying the minor trades that contributed to creating the Albert Memorial . Interestingly and to show nothing changes this was wildly over budget and late in completion not to mention the arguments over its design . The tone of the book is not too serious with chapter headings like " Dealer .. I have picked up a few little things " . This is not to say that it the author does not know his way around the art world from top to bottom . He has written extensively about Turner . If only the recent film had had an ounce of his understanding .

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jane Walker

    Hamilton's style takes some getting used to. One frequently has to go back to the start of a long sentence or paragraph to remember who the subject of it is. But there is a great deal in this book that is fascinating. I particularly liked the chapters on the colours business, and on how and why engravings were made. Hamilton's style takes some getting used to. One frequently has to go back to the start of a long sentence or paragraph to remember who the subject of it is. But there is a great deal in this book that is fascinating. I particularly liked the chapters on the colours business, and on how and why engravings were made.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Colin Myles

    Delightful,insightful and entertaining book on how people came to earn a living from the creative arts in the 19th century.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Helen Geng

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marcus Bicknell

  8. 4 out of 5

    Heather

  9. 4 out of 5

    Don McClure

  10. 4 out of 5

    David Darcy

  11. 5 out of 5

    Atlantic Books

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Kaye

  13. 5 out of 5

    Hayden

  14. 4 out of 5

    Charles

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kallie

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ashglass

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ninette

  18. 5 out of 5

    J Richards

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christina

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tasha

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  23. 5 out of 5

    Soubresaut

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lorna

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alana

  27. 4 out of 5

    Liz

  28. 4 out of 5

    John

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kate Eskdale

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amy

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