The Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften: EventsTuesday, 26 November 2019, 19:00
Venue: Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften der Goethe-Universität; Am Wingertsberg 4, 61348 Bad Homburg v. d. Höhe
Timothy Brook (University of British Columbia)
»The Price of Art in Ming China (1368−1644)«
About the lecture
We may think we live in a world in which, without precedent, everything is determined by price, but the people of the Ming dynasty (1368−1644) understood our predicments. Like us, they recognized that every thing could be a commodity, that every commodity had a price, and that life was a daily struggle to manage the gap between what they could afford and what they couldn’t, in other words, between limited means and a limitless market.
This illustrated lecture will explore art prices in the Ming economy. By definition luxuries are expensive, but in this elevated zone of the market, prices were unstable and unpredictable. We don’t have enough art prices from the period to undertake a proper economic analysis of the luxury market, but we do have enough cases of people worrying about the perils of buying expensive art to catch a glimpse of how the luxury market operated: who bought, who sold, and how each side of the deal did his best to dominate the exchange, either to keep prices down on one side or drive them up on the other. Supply and demand never reach an equilibrium in the luxury market, which in the Ming made the art market a volatile and dangerous place for the faint of heart and the short of cash, but a temptation for those who thought they could beat the odds. (Timothy Brooks)
About the lecturer
Timothy Brook is professor of Chinese history and Republic of China Chair at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses on China in the Ming period as well as China’s engagements with the world. In addition to one museum catalogue, Brook has published eleven books, edited another nine, as well as serving as editor-in-chief of Harvard University Press’s six-volume history of imperial China, which became a bestseller in China. Among his more popular books on global history are the prize-winning Vermeer’s Hat and Mr. Selden’s Map of China.
Introduction and moderation