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Christies : The Rising of the Youngster

Christies : The Rising of the Youngster

The Industrial Revolution made England richer than anytime. It made England one of the wealthiest nations in Europe. By 1750, English population worked in industry was earning more than from people working in farming.[1] A philosopher, Jeremy Bentham first invented a new word ‘capitalist’ which was popular soon.[2] This ‘capital’ was a background for the auction house Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

Christie, the largest auction house today, had sailed its business as an enterprise in 1766 in London. Christie is appreciating connoisseurship of art in last 250 years. James Christie (1730-1803) was the founder.[3] He was a jealous fellow. Christie sold paintings, drawings, sculptures, books, furniture, jewellery and other valuables. It auctioned a lot of items, but was well known for its fame for artwork. Christie realized London was a place for meeting with the wealthy people. He had the connection with all of the big names in London in the upper half of the eighteenth century.[4] Among them, Charles James Fox, who was an orator and statesman, Horace Walpole – art collector and an influential historian (whose fathers collection Christie sold to Catherine the Great of Russia). David Garrick was an actor and Richard Sheridan was a playwright.[5] On the contrary, Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough were artists.[6] So Christie had a connection with the upper class of the London society.


The Reason of Christies Success

There were two reasons for the success of Christie’s business. The first was the heir of the recently deceased nobleman came to Christie to sell their artworks. Both the parties were benefited by the transactions. The same way, foreign diplomats found it easy to come to Christie and sold the valuables before heading to their new posting.[7] The second one was the French Revolution. During the French Revolution, bourgeois came to Christie with their artworks. During 1790, nearly 10,000 Old Masters painting came to the British art market.[8] By the end of the eighteenth century, Christie and other auctioneers sold more than 100,000 paintings came from France and the continent.[9] He got the valuable artworks form the chateaux and castle of France as well as the other parts of Europe. Christie had nothing to do but sold the items.[10] It made his business successful.


Since 1766, Christie’s sold many of the artworks of respectable people. In 1778, he sold Sir Robert Walpole’s collections of Old Masters to the Russian empress Catherine the Great.[11] In 1795, he sold of Sir Joshua Reynolds’s collection which was a four day sale.[12] In 1793, Christie also sold the collection of Madame du Barry’s jewels.[13] The auction house Christie’s made some landmark sell later periods, but this is out of the scope of this writing.


Studio Sales

Studio Sales were special auctions held in the artist’s atelier, sold his or her artworks after the artist’s death.[14] From the earliest days studio sales were important for auctioneers. This was a valediction to the artist and his or her work. A retrospective and had a look of the artist’s lifetime work. James Christie made studio sales of Renolds and Gainsborough.[15] In 1778, Thomas Gainsborough, depicted the Portrait of James Christie which is used in the current writing. In the Portrait of James Christie, Christie is leaning on a painting, confident and probably an auction list in his right hand.[16] Later, near about a decade, Christie made a couple of studio sales of famous British poet and painter Gabriel Rossetti, artist John Singer Sergent, and Augustus John.[17] Whatever the subject matter of Christie’s auction, it was the exhibition of the town.


[1] Lacey, Sotheby’s: Bidding for Class,19.

[2] Lacey, Sotheby’s: Bidding for Class,19-20.

[3] Lord Rothschild, Going Once, 250 Years of Culture Taste and Collecting at Christie’s (London: Phaidon, 2016), 10.

[4] Lacey, Sotheby’s: Bidding for Class, 24-33.

[5] Rothschild, Going Once,10.

[6] Rothschild, Going Once,10.

[7] Rothschild, Going Once,10.

[8] Nigel Aston, Art and Religion in Eighteenth-century Europe (London: Reaktion Books Ltd, 2009), 258.

[9] Aston, Art and Religion in Eighteenth-century Europe , 258-9.

[10] Rothschild, Going Once,10.

[11] Noel Annesley, Christies, 2003, Oxford Art Online.

<https://doi-org.proxy.library.adelaide.edu.au/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T017492> (16 Feb. 2015).

[12] Annesley, Christies, <https://doi-org.proxy.library.adelaide.edu.au/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T017492>

[13] Annesley, Christies, <https://doi-org.proxy.library.adelaide.edu.au/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T017492>

[14] Rothschild, Going Once,13.

[15] Rothschild, Going Once,13.

[16] Rothschild, Going Once,19.

[17] Rothschild, Going Once,13.

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