restricted access The Art Market and the Spaces of Sociability in Victorian London

This paper examines the publics associated with commercial art galleries in Victorian London, focusing on the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The relationship between the gallery and its publics is framed by the larger issue of the relationship between art and commerce, driven by such questions as: Who was art for? Who constituted art’s public(s)? Did commerce interfere with or facilitate art’s desired publics? Did commerce taint or strengthen art? I argue that commercial art galleries reveal the dis-juncture of the Victorian age, inherited from the eighteenth century, between practices that advanced private interests and rhetoric that demanded the commercial sector serve the needs of the public, foster sociability, advance the arts, and benefit the nation.