The Founding of the Auction House Hôtel Drouot 1852 in Paris:
A New Space for Engaging in the Valuation of Art
In 1852, the newly built auction house Hôtel Drouot opened its doors to the public. Here, the Association of Auctioneers organized countless sales of artworks, furniture, decorative art, fashion, and curiosities. Since 1801, this association had possessed a legally sanctioned monopoly for all public auctions – a monopoly that remained unbroken until the year 2000. Not only did the Hôtel Drouot provide a central venue for the auctions, the impressive new building also consolidated the change in the auctioneers’ role who, over the course of the first half of the nineteenth century, had both broadened the range of their competence while also improving their social standing. This is particularly evident in the newly styled art sales: now auctions of contemporary art and large, staged auctions of whole collections began to take place. These changes eventually made themselves felt across all borders. Along with the founding of the auction house came an intensified engagement with the valuation of art that allows for an exact historical analysis of this discourse and is the focus of the investigation.