“Reflections on the collectionism and trade of pre-Columbian antiquities in Paris during the second half of the 19th century.
The case of the Boban-Goupil collection”
Tuesday 26 October, 2021
6.30-8pm CEST // 5.30-7pm BST // 12.30-2pm EDT// 9.30-11am PDT
Speaker: Susana Stüssi Garcia (Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)
Reflections on collecting and trade in pre-Columbian antiquities in Paris during the second half of the 19th century. The case of the Boban-Goupil collection
The last few years have seen the publication of several studies devoted to the history of Pre-Columbian collections preserved today in French and European museums (for example Cabello Carro 2001, Hocquenghem et al. 1987, Mongne 2003). In the second half of the 19th century, these collections were numerous in France, Germany and England, partly due to the multiplication of archaeological and ethnographic missions in Latin America.
The emergence of a public interested in these pre-Columbian antiquities, beyond the documentary or scientific value given to these objects by scholars and archaeologists, has been less studied. However, it is precisely in the second half of the 19th century that the collection of antiquities ceased to be a scholarly practice and spread more widely in society.
We therefore propose to address three aspects of pre-Columbian antiquities collecting in the second half of the 19th century in Paris. Firstly, the beginnings of a specific trade in Pre-Columbian antiquities, through the study of the merchants who offered these objects for sale from the 1860s onwards. Secondly, the existence of a significant diversity in the profiles of the collectors who bought these antiquities, proof of the extension to the field of pre-Columbian antiquities of the gentrification of the practice of collecting the antique and the exotic. Finally, we propose to study the development of a sociability around the collecting of pre-Columbian antiquities. This will allow us to show how these objects found their place in bourgeois interiors at the end of the century and to note the existence of numerous links between amateur collectors, dealers and scholars. To illustrate these three questions more concretely, we propose to present the case of Eugène Boban, an antiquarian and curiosity dealer specializing in Mexican antiques, and Eugène Goupil, an industrialist and businessman, who assembled one of the most important collections of this type in Europe during the last third of the 19th century.
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