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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ARTF3099 Antique Dealers: The Market for 'Decorative Art' from Curiosities to Retro

20 creditsClass Size: 18

Module manager: Dr Mark Westgarth

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The module directs critical attention to the history of the 'modern' antiques ('Decorative Art') trade, from its development in the early 19th century to the present day. It provides an introduction to some of the main themes in the histories of the market for antiques through a chronologically ordered and thematic investigation focused on key notions and practices, placing these into their social, cultural, economic and political contexts. The focus begins with a critical investigation on the shifting meaning of the notion of 'antiques' and the development of related terms such as 'curiosities' and 'bric-a-brac', as well as the emergence of more recent notions such as 'vintage' and 'retro'. The main focus of the module is on the history, role, and practices of 'antique dealers', and introduces students to some of the most important dealers and their histories, placing the dealers into the context of the history of the market for 'antiques' more generally. The module also critically reflects on the meanings of some of the dominant tropes associated with those that have traded in art objects, such as the consistent theme of forgery and fakes in the biography of the antique dealer, as well as directing attention to the portrayal of the antique dealer in both factual discourse and fictional representation (visual and literary).


To consolidate students’ knowledge of art history and museum and heritage studies through the study of the history and development of the market for ‘Antiques’ (Decorative Art).
To stimulate and develop further interest in the relationships between the disciplines museum studies/art history/cultural studies and the structures/mechanisms of the art market.
To introduce students to some of the key notions, structures and themes in the development of the market for antiques, including the significance of agents involved in the market and historical and contemporary art markets.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module students should:
- Have an understanding of the history and development of the market for antiques (Decorative Art) from the early 19th century to present day.
- Understand the relationships between the disciplines of art history, museum studies, material and cultural studies and the structures and mechanisms of the market for antiques.
- Have basic knowledge of the practices, roles and functions of the antiques market (e.g. auctions, antique dealers, antique shops and antique fairs).
- Have knowledge of some of the key Antique Dealers involved in the history of the antiques market.
- Have developed an understanding of, and application of, object-based study and to consider the significance of the relationships between objects, evolving discourses and the market for antiques.
- Have an understanding of the history and meanings of key notions such as 'antique', 'curiosities', 'bric-a-brac', 'vintage, 'retro'.

Skills outcomes
On completion of the module students will have refined the skills necessary for the written and oral communication of information, and be able to demonstrate research skills and the marshalling of evidence to produce coherent arguments.
Specific Module Skills Outcomes:
1. Refined skills in written and oral communication.
2. Critical thinking skills.
3. Research skills and marshalling of evidence to produce coherent arguments.
4. Primary research skills.


The module teaching could include:
- What is an ‘antique?’ etymologies of a key terms such as 'antique', 'curiosities', 'bric-a-brac' etc.
- Dealers, Agents, Auctions, Fairs – Actors and Agency
- The Emergence of the 'antique dealer' 1800-1850
- Learning to Look: antiques, connoisseurship and the market
- Learning to Look (object handling and analysis session with museum curator)
- Optional visit to an antique dealer shop
- Antique Dealing in the late 19th & 20th centuries
- Visit to Special Collections – antique dealer archives (archives session)
• Social & Cultural Identities of Antique Dealers – identities in fact and fiction
• Consuming the past in the present – ‘vintage, ‘retro’ and the future of ‘antiques’
• Revision and Review

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Research Class12.002.00
Group learning12.002.00
Independent online learning hours120.00
Private study hours60.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students are given an extensive reading list, with suggestions for further readings. Students will also make use of the module content on Minerva and have opportunities undertake research on the history of the antiques trade and art market through the resources assembled as a result of the AHRC funded 'Antique Dealers' research project (project websites the archive of Oral Histories, and the antique dealer archive resources int he Brotherton Library Special Collections). The independent learning will ensure the development of research skills, the results of which are assessed in the module assessments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

The weekly seminar sessions are structured to allow continuous feedback on progress. Further formative feedback opportunities via tutor office hours and individual appointments.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2000-3000 word essay50.00
Assignment1,000 word (in total) 2 x archive research projects30.00
Assignment500-800 word object description, marketing presentation and valuation20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:22:37


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