This article makes a case for the amateur being a key figure in the eighteenth-century Parisian artistic space, between the patron, characteristic of court society in early modern times, and the collector, who emerged later in the nineteenth century. Described in the language of taste, amateurs were not only engaged in aesthetic judgments: removed from this Kantian conception of taste, the article explores the role of amateurs in the production of knowledge and the cognitive dimension of taste in eighteenth-century Paris. In the culture of amateurs, knowledge was a praxis, not a theory, grounded in concrete relations to natural objects or artifacts and associated with amateur art. This cognitive conception of taste was embedded in a social system that was supported by the academic institution and embodied in the figure of the amateur, before becoming irreconcilable with the social and political mutations of the Parisian art world at the end of the century.


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pp. 519-547
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